Congratulations, you have a U2F YubiKey! So how do you set it up to protect your Google accounts? Follow these easy instructions and you'll be protected with the simplicity of YubiKey two-factor authentication in no time! If you do not have a U2F YubiKey, you can still use your YubiKey Standard or YubiKey Edge to protect your Gmail account. See our instructions here to learn how to use authenticator codes to protect your account.
- A browser that natively supports U2F (Google Chrome, Opera).
- If using Mozilla Firefox - ensure U2F support is enabled, and note that Firefox is not supported for registering YubiKeys with Google accounts, but can be used for logon once enrolled.
- A Google Account (such as Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Blogger, Adwords)
Note: If your Google account is a managed account -- such as with G Suite, Google Cloud, or Google for Education -- your administrator must have enabled two-step verification before you can use your YubiKey. If the option to select 2-Step Verification is not available (as described in the steps below), ask your administrator to enable this security option.
Setting Up Your Google Account
- Turn on 2-step verification. If you already have set up 2-Step Verification, continue with the next step.
- Add a Security Key for 2-step verification. (We recommend that you add two YubiKeys, or Security Keys. They can be used interchangeably, or one can be your primary device, and one can be a backup device.
- Be sure to save backup codes (you will use these if you are ever logging in without your YubiKey). To do this, scroll down after you have added your YubiKey(s) and, under Backup codes, click Show Codes. Click Download or Print, and save the codes in a safe location.
- You can also set up Google Authenticator to generate verification codes if you don't have your YubiKey. The Authenticator app can receive codes even if you are not connected to the internet.
Your YubiKey is now registered to your account as your default Two-Step Verification device on supported browsers! The screen now displays all devices that are registered to your account, so you can easily add another Security Key, or remove registered keys. (If you accidentally lose a YubiKey, come here and remove that YubiKey from your account. No one could log on to your account, though, because they would still need to know your username and password.)
Logging in to Your Google Account
Logging in to your Google account with your YubiKey is refreshingly simple.
- The next time you need to login to your Google account, insert your YubiKey.
- Enter your user name and password, and click Sign in.
- When the YubiKey begins to blink, tap it.
- If you want to trust this computer for a short period of time, so you do not have to insert your YubiKey each time you log in, check the box to Remember this computer for 30 days.
- If you do not have your YubiKey with you, click Use a verification code instead.
No U2F-Enabled YubiKeys?
There is a one-time password solution for Gmail that works with YubiKeys that do not currently support U2F. It relies on a free application called Yubico Authenticator (that works on the Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems) to generate time-based authentication codes. Learn how to use authenticator codes to protect your account.
Running a Browser that Doesn't Support U2F?
If you use a browser that doesn't support U2F, you can use Yubico Authenticator as an alternative to U2F, described above.