Apple ID 2FA on an iPhone XSource: iMore

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a secondary security measure that provides you with an access code for your Apple ID after you enter your username and password on a new device or into iCloud.com. Apple allows its customers to set up 2FA for their iCloud accounts, and get codes from a circle of trusted devices like their iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Bottom line: If you want something more than just your password to protect your Apple ID — which you use for iCloud, iTunes, and the App Store — then you want 2-factor authentication turned on.

Note: Apple originally implemented two-step verification, where you only need to enter in a code every so often; it's since switched to two-factor authentication, which requires a code every time you log in to an unrecognized device or website.

How to switch from Apple's two-step verification to two-factor authentication

If you're updating your iPhone or Mac software to iOS 9 or later on your iPhone or OS X El Capitan or later on your Mac, you will be asked to switch from two-step verification to two-factor authentication. Apple requires this for a "more streamlined user experience" and to "use certain features that call for enhanced security." Two-step verification is an older security feature for people that have older devices or are still running older operating systems.

Save big on these VPN services ahead of Black Friday

You'll need to first make the switch by visiting Apple's Apple ID portal from a web browser.

  1. Go to appleid.apple.com/
  2. Enter your Apple ID and password to login.
  3. Click on Get Started under the Security tab next to Two-Step Verification.

    Changing from 2SV to 2FA at Apple's Apple ID web portal showing the steps to log in with your Apple ID and then clicking Get Started to change your security methodSource: iMore

Note: If you've recently changed your Apple ID or the security questions related to two-step verification, you will be required to wait five days before you can switch.

Apple notification that your request to switch to 2FA is delayed for security reasonsSource: iMore

How to enable Apple's two-factor authentication

It's easy to set up two-factor authentication right on your iPhone or iPad. Here's how to do it!

Note: If you have devices running iOS 9 or earlier, you'll be advised about their lack of compatibility during setup; you'll need to add a 6-digit verification code to the end of your password to authenticate on any of those devices going forward. (Or simply update those devices to the latest version of macOS and iOS, if possible.)

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner.
  3. Tap Password & Security.

    Turning on 2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to  Open Settings, tap banner, tap Password and SecuritySource: iMore

  4. Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication
  5. Tap Continue.
  6. Tap Continue.

    Turning on 2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to Tap Turn On Two-Factor AuthenticationSource: iMore

  7. Enter your iPhone's passcode.
  8. Tap Done.

    Turning on 2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to Enter passcode tap DoneSource: iMore

  9. Enter your trusted phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in to iCloud.

  10. Tap either Text Message or Phone Call to determine whether you should be verified using a text or a phone call.
  11. Tap Next.
  12. Enter the verification code that you're sent.

How to use Apple's two-factor authentication verification codes

  1. Sign in to a website, app, or device with an iCloud account with two-factor authentication turned on.
  2. Tap Allow on the popup that appears on one of your trusted iCloud devices.
  3. Enter the code on your website, app, or device.
  4. Tap OK to dismiss the code.

    2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to Tap Allow, tap OKSource: iMore

You can also get a verification code any time you want.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner.
  3. Tap Password & Security.

    2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to Open Settings, tap banner, tap Password and SecuritySource: iMore

  4. Tap Get Verification Code.
  5. Tap OK when you're done with the code.

    2FA for Apple ID showing the steps to Tap Get Verification Code, tap OKSource: iMore

Questions?

If you've got any questions about setting up Apple's two-factor authentication process for your Apple ID, let us know in the comments.

Updated June 2020: Updated for iOS 13.

iOS

Main

HomeKit

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.