- Two-factor authentication or 2FA is one of the best internet practices one should follow to secure their online accounts.
- If you use Google Authenticator and need to switch phones very often, Google has finally made it easier for you to transfer your linked accounts to a new phone.
- This guide demonstrates how to use the export functionality to transfer Google Authenticator accounts to a new phone.
Google Authenticator is one of the most popular 2FA apps on Android and iPhone to implement two-step verification on your online accounts. It’s easy to use, includes all the essential features, and takes perhaps a more secure approach to store your 2FA tokens.
However, what Google Authenticator always lacked relative to other 2FA apps up until now—besides some syncing and backup options—was the ability to export accounts between devices. [Technically, it’s the iOS version of Google Authenticator that lacked the feature; the Android version of the app has had it for over a year.]
But as part of the latest update, Google has finally introduced support for bulk account transferring on Google Authenticator to make transferring accounts between devices a lot easier. So now, you can transfer multiple accounts on the Google Authenticator app from one device to the other easily without worrying about losing their access in the process.
Follow along as we discuss the feature, its purpose, and the steps to bulk transfer your accounts between devices.
Why Would You Need to Transfer Accounts to a New Phone?
Unlike some of the other two-factor authentication apps, the 2FA security verification codes from Google Authenticator don’t have a centralized location. Similarly, the 2FA verification codes (for the accounts connected to Authenticator) are linked directly to the hardware (phone) and not the SIM card inside it. As a result, Google Authenticator doesn’t offer support for cross-platform sync across multiple devices.
So, if you get a new phone and plan to make a switch, the only way you can continue to access 2FA codes for all your accounts is by transferring the Google Authenticator app from your old phone to the new one.
Until now, if you had to move Google Authenticator tokens between devices, the process was fairly tedious: you needed access to your old phone, with the Google Authenticator app (and all your linked accounts) still present, to be able to log in to these accounts and change the registered device to the new one, one at a time.
While this worked fine, it demanded a lot of time, effort, and patience—especially if you had two-factor authentication enabled on a lot of accounts and you switched devices very often. The latest update simplifies this process and makes it a lot easier to transfer Authenticator accounts from your old device to the new one.
What Do You Need to Transfer Google Authenticator Accounts?
To transfer Google Authenticator accounts to a new phone, the most critical element in the process is your old phone, with all your accounts still linked. Next, you need to make sure you have the latest version of the Google Authenticator app running on both your (old and new) devices. You can find the latest update to Google Authenticator on the Play Store—for the Android phone, and on the App Store—if you have an iPhone.
How to Transfer Google Authenticator Accounts to a New Phone
Once you’ve downloaded (or updated) the Google Authenticator app on both your devices, follow the steps below to transfer Google Authenticator accounts to the new phone:
- Open the Authenticator app on your old device.
- Click on the (three-horizontal dot) menu and select Export accounts.
- Next, hit the Continue button at the bottom and authenticate yourself with the device passcode/FaceID, TouchID, fingerprint.
- On the next page, you’ll see a list of all your accounts. Here, select the ones that you want to move to the new phone.
- Once done, hit the Export button at the bottom.
- Open the Authenticator app on your new phone and click on the plus (+) button.
- From the list of options, select Scan a QR code.
- Point your new device’s camera to the QR code that appears on your old device.
- Once you scan the code, tap on the Next button on the device from which you’re moving account(s).
- Select Remove all exported accounts to remove entries from the other device and hit Done.
Once done, the exported accounts no longer appear in the Authenticator app on your old phone.
Successfully Transferring Google Authenticator Accounts to a New Phone
With the new bulk account export feature, you can now seamlessly bulk transfer accounts from your old phone to the new phone without having to go through the tedious process of transferring your accounts as before and risk losing them in the process.
The bulk export functionality works with the latest version of Authenticator on both Android and iOS, which means you can use it to transfer all your Authenticator-linked accounts from Android to iOS, as well as Android to Android and iOS to iOS. However, unlike its Android equivalent, the Authenticator app on iOS doesn’t display a history of recent transfers. But we can expect Google to roll out the feature on iOS at some point.
FAQs About Transferring Google Authenticator Accounts
1. How do I transfer Google Authenticator from a broken phone?
Like we mentioned earlier in the post, one of the essential prerequisites for transferring Google Authenticator between devices is access to Authenticator codes on the old phone.
In case of a broken phone, make sure it’s turning on and that you can access the Google Authenticator app on it. If it works, you can follow the steps in the guide above to transfer Google Authenticator from a broken phone to a new one. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to use one of your backup codes to access Google Authenticator and then disable (and then re-enable) 2FA on your Google account. If there are multiple accounts linked to Google Authenticator, you’ll have to do this individually for all of them.
2. Can you have Google Authenticator on 2 phones?
Yes, you can have Google Authenticator on two phones simultaneously. To do this, first, follow the usual setup procedure to set up 2FA on one of your phones. Next, download and install the Google Authenticator app on another phone. Now, use the steps in the guide above to export the account(s) you want on both your devices. When prompted to select what you want to do with the existing entry/entries, select Keep all exported accounts and hit Done to have a copy of entries on both your devices.