How to enable two-step verification for your iCloud account

How to enable two-step verification for your Apple ID

Most people use their Apple ID account not only to house their iCloud contacts, photos, calendars, and other data, but to purchase content from iTunes and the App Store. That means that anyone who gets ahold of your account or manages to change your password could have access to your personal information and credit card information. If you want to increase the security of your Apple ID, you can use two-step verification to add a second layer of protection.

Note: In order to enable two-step verification, you must have a current password that meets Apple's minimum standards of 8 characters complete with at least 1 number and 1 capital letter. If you have to change your current password in order to meet this standard, you'll have a short waiting period before you can enable two-step verification.

Here's how to set it up:

  1. Open the Manage Your Apple ID page in another browser window - Link here
  2. Now click on Manage your Apple ID.
  3. Enter your login information in order to log in. If you've enabled login security questions, answer those in order to continue.
  4. Once you're logged in, choose the Password and Security option in the left hand navigation bar.
  5. The first option will now be for two-step verification. Click on the blue link labeled Get started...
  6. You'll now see an explanation of what two-step verification is and what it does. Click on Continue after you've read everything on the screen. You'll have a few more prompts explaining what two-security does and does not do as well as some warnings about if you forget your password. Read them all and continue on through.
  7. Once you get to the first step, you'll see a list of the devices that currently have access to your iCloud account. Tap on the Verify option next to the device that you'd like to verify.
  8. Check your device for a four digit verification code.
  9. Enter this number in your computer and you'll notice that device is now verified. Repeat this process for any and all devices in your account that you'd like to verify. You may also had a number for SMS recovery as well.
  10. Now you will be given a recovery key that you'll need to save in a safe place in case you ever forgot your password or don't have your verified device. We'd suggest printing it out and saving it somewhere secure. You will need it for the next step so please remember to save it before continuing.
  11. You'll now be asked to confirm the recovery key from the previous step to ensure that you've printed it or written it down.
  12. Finally, agree to the terms and conditions of two-step verification by reading and checking the box confirming that you agree.
  13. Lastly, click the Enable two-step verification button.
  14. You'll now receive a confirmation screen that two-step verification has been enabled.
  15. You can also confirm this by checking the Privacy and Security page and double checking that it shows two-step verification is enabled.

That's it. Two-step verification is now set up and your iCloud account will no longer ask for secret questions but require you to reset passwords from a trusted device in the future.

What if I have multiple Apple ID's?

If you have multiple Apple IDs, for example, if you have a separate iCloud login from your iTunes login, you can still set up two-step verification for both. You can do this by verifying an SMS only device on the second ID. Apple recommends having more than one verified device or SMS number so you may also use a close family or friend's SMS number in case you need to use it. And as always, you can always use your recovery key if all else fails.

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 52 comments. Add yours.

kch50428 says:

Full set-up allowed only if your current AppleID password meets requirements of at least 8 characters - one of which has to be a number, and another a capital letter... if you change your password meet that standard, you will have a waiting period before you can complete the set-up process.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Thanks for the tip! I've added it in! :)

kch50428 says:

That "short" waiting period is 3 days... At least mine is... :)

tennenho says:

Tried to do this. Unfortunately7, once I print my recovery key, which contains dashes, my Apple keyboard won't let me type those dashes when I attempt to type that recovery key to verify I've got a copy .

iSRS says:

When you enter it, it will put the dashes in for you. Pretend they aren't there.

tennenho says:

Didn't for me. And when I typed it without them the site told me the code didn't match.

melwan says:

Canada is not supported yet?

BG89 says:

No not yet. Apparently only the U.S., UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand

pictor says:

The hell? Why the hell not. That's annoying.

Bruno Gama says:

Not working for my account (Brazilian iTunes Store).

asuperstarr says:

Great tip, i just enabled my two step verification.

RogueLabTech says:

Thanks for the tutorial! I've seen a lots of articles on the new security upgrade, but no walkthroughs. This is terrific.

TheForstallStare says:

I always turn on two-step verification, but this implementation isn't so great for people that have separate accounts for iTunes and iCloud. Because you can only have Find My iPhone turned on for one account per iOS device, devices can't be trusted for both accounts. Still, I'm glad they added this additional level of security.

BrianTufo says:

What happens if you lose your iPhone and that's the device you setup for the code to be sent to?

kch50428 says:

Re-Read the article, and make note of steps 10 & 11.

BrianTufo says:

Durh...I'm dumb lol. Thanks for pointing this out to me. :)

BigLan says:

Yes, thanks for setting up and showing this this step by step process. I'm just not sure I can do it because I have 2 IDs. One for my iTunes account and one for iCloud.

Madhav Pande says:

Thank you! I feel so much safer with this new 2-step verification!

Jaguarr40 says:

Brilliant as you are always Ally. I have been meaning to do this for a long time and keep forgetting. Just did it on my iPhone and worked like a charm. Thank you once again. One of my favorite parts of the blog side is Ally's articles on How To.

thatguykc says:

Thank you for the comprehensive how-to guide. I use 2-step verification for a few other services and it gives a a little added peace of mind.

jorkobe23 says:

Very useful. I have to wait till 24th March though

ame says:

Worked like a champ. I made sure I have a printout and a screen grab of the code.

vacantengaged says:

Over here it's asking me to confirm the credit card I deleted from iTunes two months ago. I no longer have the card (or remember the number).

elcoholic says:

Thanks Ally worked great.

Jedispeak says:

Does anyone know if you can have multiple accounts use the same device to verify? Meaning, say I have two APPLE ID's, and one iPhone, can I have both id's message code to same iPhone?

I know you can't have same email address tied to apple id.....

markbyrn says:

I read an article on the Verge that notes there's a major exploit if you neglect to use this two-step authentication service. According to the article, you can reset your password with just your Apple ID and date of birth. Can iMore verify this?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

This exploit is real. yes, set up two step verification.

shinuyuki says:

Terrifying. Thank you so much for taking time to not only make this post, but to verify that the exploit does exist. I was not really bothered to do this until I read this one comment from you. :)

AdrianGabeChen says:

i have already set this up. the added security is great

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I have updated the article at the end to cover what to do if you have Multiple Apple ID's!

BigLan says:

Thanks Allyson for updating the site to cover multiple ID's.

Tmil2000 says:

That would be useful because if someone find out your info from placesnlike bugmenot.com or places that that and you change the password then they wouldnt get your password agaon i also like the fact that its not over the phone because i remember the apple hack of 2009 when he tapped into all the phones

gardnerkymani says:

Apple is really steping up their game

fmlogue says:

I have no cell phone connection at my house because the mountains block any and all cell towers. Am I screwed? Google 2-step authentication works with my Wi-Fi connected iPad. How come Apple doesn't seem to allow this device?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Shouldn't be. Sent codes to my wifi only devices fine.

zdn1042 says:

Is this just for US Apple ID accounts? Can't seem to find the two-step verification on mine.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

It is currently only supported in certain countries. :/

broadwayblues says:

Quick and easy, and now I'm protected. Thank you.

darkj2k says:

Possible to use non-US phone no. for US Apple ID for 2-steps verification?

Madalin Cirlanaru says:

Thanks for the article.
Check apple news at www.inewss.com

Have a good day.

larrymcj says:

Just one concern before I do this. After setting up the 2-step verification, will I then ALWAYS be asked to use it (even from my trusted devices) for "every" thing I do with my Apple ID? IOW, every song I buy, every app I buy for my iPad, iPhone and Mac...and especially every time I login to the Apple Discussion Communities? I understand the need for security, but I find my self using my Apple ID four or five times daily...this will really slow down my workflow.

ljpuk says:

Nice guide, like your wallpaper BTW

lv1 says:

The tutorial has one thing wrong. I have a password that is at least 8 characters, one capital, one number and is considered by Apple to be moderate strength yet I am required to choose a new password.

lv1 says:

I hypothetical question? I have an IPhone 5 and go to the Apple Store to by an Iphone 6. Apple sets it up and switches the number over so the old phone no longer works. How do I restore from ICloud or purchase Apps on the new phone since it is not an "approved device" and the old phone no longer works.

5hea says:

While two-step authentication is surely a huge plus for added security, at what expense does it come? Is it really worth sacrificing the inconvenience? I guess only time will tell...

lucky8919 says:

Too bad it's only available for U.S., UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand only :S

jevalladares says:

Does anyone know why is this 2 step verification only available in some countries? Is there any legal reason for this?

I really would like to have this feature available for added security.

SockRolid says:

Glad to hear that the cumbersome "security questions" are a thing of the past. But just in case, whenever any site asks for security questions and answers, always put in fake answers. (And make sure you store them along with the password, preferably in some kind of encrypted password app.)

Honeymoon location: Mogadishu, Somalia.
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MacIntense says:

Very detailed how to. This is why iMore is my go to site for anything Apple. I have three kids so I don't have as much time as I used to when I was single...I need fast accurate news and how-to's...iMore you just became my default homepage...