If you’re already using two-factor authentication on your Twitter, account, great! But with the company’s announcement Friday evening1 that it would be discontinuing two-factor authentication via SMS for all but its paying Twitter Blue subscribers, you may suddenly find yourself wondering what a person’s to do if they want to keep their Twitter account secure?
Have no fear: while these changes were perhaps hastily and questionably enacted, there is a silver lining here. Two-factor authentication via an authentication app is more secure than using SMS, and, better yet, if you’re using a recent version of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS, then not only is the ability to set up that feature baked right into the operating system, but the system will even autofill the password for you every time you login.
Here’s how to set it up:
First, fire up Twitter, either on the web or in the app. In the toolbar on the left, tap the More button (the one with the three dots), and then tap Settings and Support; under the menu that appears there, tap Settings and Privacy.
This will take you to the account section of your Twitter Settings; tap the entry for “Security and account access” and then, on the right hand side of the screen, tap Security.
You’ll see an entry for “Two-factor authentication”: tap that and you’ll get options for the various ways to secure your account. Tap the checkbox for “Authentication app” and a dialog will appear prompting you to get started.
Fun so far, right?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky, depending on what device you’re using. To set up the two-factor codes, you’ll get a QR code. While in some apps and websites, macOS/iOS can actually detect the QR code being show onscreen, allowing you to tap and hold on it to set up the feature, that didn’t happen for me on Twitter on the iPad. That leaves two other options for configuring this feature.
If you happen to have an iOS device handy, you can point its camera at the QR code on your screen. In the Camera app, as you hover over the QR code, you should see a yellow bubble pop up that says Add Verification Code to Twitter.com. Tapping that will open the Passwords section of iOS, and prompt you to add the verification code to an existing account. Search for your Twitter login, tap it, and you should be prompted to save the verification code there.
If you don’t have an iOS device handy, you can do the process manually. Tap the “Can’t scan the QR code?” in the dialog box, and you’ll instead be prompted with a long string of characters. Copy this and go to the Passwords section of System Settings, where you’ll need to authenticate with your passcode or biometrics. Then search for your Twitter login, tap on it, and select the Set Up Verification Code button. You’ll be prompted to either scan the QR code or Enter Setup Key—choose the latter, paste in the string you just copied, and hit OK.
You should now see a new section showing a six-digit code along with a timer counting down. Copy that code and return to the Twitter website to paste it in. (The OS should also offer to autofill it for you when you tap on the verification code feature.)
That’s it! The hardest part is over and now whenever you log in to Twitter in the future, the OS should autofill the two-factor code just like it does for your username and password.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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