How to again setup Google Authenticator after Phone reset or switch

In the recent light of events of account getting hacked and guys like Mat Honan losing almost everything of their digital life,  Google or Gmail users are lucky to have a 2 Step Authentication in place. Matt Cuts has come with an excellent article where he has busted a lot of myths about the process.

During 2 Step Authentication, if you have an Android or iPhone or a BlackBerry Device, it allows you to have a GA App to be installed and connected with your account.  This is useful when either your are out of cell coverage network or just don’t want to use the SMS option all the time.

I had this setup for my Android phone, Nexus S, also until recently I had done reset and wanted to use the GA App but could not because a reset not only removed the app but also the connection my account has with the app. Now, being not so aware how to reconfigure it, I never set it up again and never looked back to the settings as there was no direct way to configure it from the app.  The only way to set it up again was …..I wasn’t sure and I did not wanted to lose all my Authenticated App settings.

So now if you are one of the 2 Auth Step user, in the same situation like me, there is actually a way to set up GA again with your account without losing existing app settings or the pass code used with the apps.  Follow the steps below :

  • Go to Google Account > Security Settings > Click on Edit button right next to 2 Step verification.
  • Once you are in, you should see Mobile Application under “How to receive codes”. This should tell you what device you had used last to set this up if you ever did.
  • Now if you click on the question mark right next to the mobile device listed, it will tell you


Using the Google Authenticator mobile app is a great way to generate codes when you don’t have cellphone reception, or want to avoid SMS/text message charges.

Replacing phones

When you want to switch to a different phone, select “Remove/Replace”. That will temporarily unenroll you from 2-step verification, and allow you to configure the Google Authenticator app on your new phone. This will not invalidate any of your existing application-specific passwords or backup codes.

If you want to set it up again, you should be interested in the Replacing Phones section. This clearly tells you that when you switch phone you will need to remove the device and add it again. In my case, it was hard reset which is more or less the same thing.

The good thing about this step is that it does not remove or invalidate any if the application specific or backup codes. This is very very nice because if you have lot of apps using the account, it just saved lot of time for you. Next all you need is remove the device and add it again like you did for the first time and you will back to 2 step in moments.

Note : In case you have removed your account from the GA Application, you need to follow the same steps to bring it back.

Add Remove Devices using 2 Step Authentication process