How to set up Google's 2-step verification with Mail on your iPhone and iPad

After the news of Mat Honan's horrible experience of getting hacked, many of you are probably (and if not, should be!) taking extra precautions with your accounts, passwords, and general outlook on digital security. One of the big mistakes that Mat said he made was to not setting up Gmail's 2-step verification. Admittedly, this is a somewhat annoying security measure, but it's totally worth it.

iMore is here to help you every step of the way with setting it up!

What is Gmail's 2-step verification?

Gmail's 2-step verification is an optional level of security that not only requires your password, but also a passcode that gets sent to your phone via text or voice. Any computers you mark as "secure" will only require you to enter the code once every 30 days, but all other computers will require you to enter it every time.

Some apps and services do not yet support Gmail's 2-step verification. Three of those apps includes Apple's built-in Mail for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The good news is that Gmail has provided an alternate method to increase your security -- requiring a separate, auto-generated password for each of those apps.

Like I said, initially setting up 2-step verification is a bit of a hassle, but the extra security it provides is priceless.

How to activate 2-step verification

  1. Login to your Gmail account and visit Gmail's 2-step verification settings page
  2. Click Start Setup.
  3. Enter in the phone number you wish to receive the verification code at and choose whether to receive it by text or voice call.
  4. Receive code and enter it.
  5. Decide whether to trust the computer you're using or not. Click Next.
  6. Read info about 2-step verification. Click Confirm.
  7. 2-step verification activation is complete! Gmail will log you out and return you to the login screen.

How to set-up passwords for iPhone, iPad, and Mac with Gmail's 2-step verification alternative

Now that Gmail 2-step authentication is up and running, you will probably immediately notice that all of your Mail clients, including your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, start giving you incorrect password errors. This is a good sign because it means your activation was a success! To access your Gmail from your iOS and Mac Mail clients, you must create separate passwords for each one.

  1. Login to Gmail.
  2. You will immediately be taken to screen informing you that 2-step verification has been activated and provide you with further options. The first one is to enter a backup phone number (very good idea) and the second to is get list of printable codes (I actually stored these as a secure note in Dropbox). The third one is the one we're most interested in right now; it's called "Application specific passwords". Click the Manage application specific passwords link in the lower righthand corner.
  3. At the bottom of the screen you should see a password generator. Give a name to the password you're generating. Be as specific as necessary. For example, if both you and you wife use iPhones, share a Gmail account, and will access the account from both iPhones, make sure you give each device a separate name like "Leanna's iPhone" and "Dave's iPhone.
  4. Click Generate Password.
  5. Immediately enter this passcode into your iPhone's Mail Settings via Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Accounts. Do not enter spaces.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 for iPad, Mac, and any other devices you may want to access your Gmail account from.

There you have it! Now you're all set to use Gmail's 2-step verification security feature and still have access to your email from the Mail clients on your favorite devices.