How to use iCloud Keychain Two-Factor Authentication

ICloud Keychain – The default password manager on Apple devices gets new features with every OS update. This time, Apple introduces two-factor authentication support in iCloud Keychain, eliminating the need for separate 2FA apps on iPhone. Here’s how to set up the verification code in iCloud Keychain on iPhone and iPad.

Most of the iCloud Keychain alternatives, such as 1Password and LastPass, already offer 2FA support in their applications. Good to see Apple get on the 2FA train too.

We tested the setup on iPhone and iPad, running iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, respectively. Interestingly, iCloud Keychain 2FA is missing from the latest macOS 12.0 Monterey.

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How does iCloud Keychain Two-Factor Authentication work?

As you may already know, iCloud Keychain is part of the Passwords menu on the iPhone and iPad. There is no separate app for it. Instead, Apple automatically adds your username / login ID and password to the Passwords menu with the website name every time you try to log in with the Safari browser on Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

You can find all those entries in the Settings> Passwords menu on the iPhone. With iOS 15, as long as a website that you add on iCloud Keychain supports two-factor authentication, you will find an option to set the verification code on iCloud Keychain.

You can set up a verification code and repeat the process for all major websites for an added layer of security. Let’s set it up.

Set up iCloud Keychain Two-Factor Authentication

In the following example, we will configure two-factor authentication for an Instagram account in the iCloud Keychain app on iPhone.

Instagram offers 2FA support for personal and business accounts. We highly recommend setting up 2FA for Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and other popular services that you use and interact with frequently.

Before starting, make sure to update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS 15 or iPad15 from the Settings menu. Apple has not yet released the final version of the software, but you always install the beta version at your own risk.

The steps below are from the iPhone, but you can follow the same steps on the iPad and set up 2FA on iCloud Keychain.

Step 1: Open Settings app on iPhone.

Step 2: Go to the Passwords menu.

Step 3: Authenticate and open the Passwords menu.

Step 4: You will see the list of services that you added over time.

Step 5: Search for Instagram (as we will set up 2FA for Instagram in iCloud Keychain) and select a relevant account.

Step 6: Open the details and you will see your username, password, and an option to set up the verification code.

We will now use the Instagram mobile app to set up 2FA on iCloud Keychain.

Step 7: Open Instagram on your mobile.

Step 8: Login with the same Instagram account details.

Step 9: Go to your account and tap on the More button at the top.

Step 10: Open configuration.

Step 11: Select Security> Two-Factor Authentication.

Step 12: Tap Get Started and enable Authentication App Switch. It is a method recommended by Instagram.

Step 13: Instagram will ask you to download an authentication app on your phone. Do not worry. We already have it on the iCloud keychain. Select Set up another shape at the bottom.

Step 14: Instagram will show a key to set up two-factor authentication. Copy key. And press Next.

Step 15: Minimize the app and go back to the Instagram menu in the Password section.

Step 16: Tap Configure Verification Code and select Enter Configuration Key.

Step 17: You will see the Verification Code in the same menu. Enter the same code in the Instagram app now.

That is all. You have successfully set up 2FA on Instagram using iCloud Keychain. On the next screen, Instagram will display backup codes for emergency use. You can use those codes if you can’t access the verification code from the Passwords menu on your iPhone or iPad.

You can use the code only once. You can always ask Instagram for new codes to authenticate your account. Write those codes somewhere and keep them safe.

Repeat the steps for all main accounts on your iPhone and set up a verification method on iCloud Keychain on iPhone or iPad.

Some services like Google or Microsoft offer a way to enable 2FA through text messages. It is a less secure method, and we advise against its use.

Set up 2FA for websites on iPhone

With the latest additions to 2FA support on iPhone and iPad, iCloud Keychain is one step closer to replacing the dedicated password manager and 2FA apps. However, in its current state, it is far from established players like 1Password or Dashlane, but we hope that Apple will continue to improve the default password manager with future updates.

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