How to use 2FA or two-factor authentication?

This post shows how to use 2FA using the Pixplicity Authenticator app for iOS and Android.

How to log in using Pix Authenticator

When logging in to a website, you enter your email or username and password combination. When 2FA is enabled, it will ask for the 6-digit code, usually in a follow-up step.

This is when you whip out your phone, open your Authenticator app, and look for the account that you’re logging in to. There will be a large 6-digit number displayed, and a little 30-second countdown timer. Read the code and type it into the website before the timer runs out (no need to rush this, there’s another 30 seconds leeway), and you’re done.

Login code for Facebook, with a countdown timer

Variations to the theme

Sometimes this code is not asked during login, but only when you use the more sensitive parts of a service, like changing your password or making a payment. Services like Google are often also able to skip the 2FA code if they are certain that you are logging in from a trusted device.

Other variations include:

  • 8 digit codes instead of 6 digits. Used by Instagram, for example.
  • 1-minute refresh times instead of 30 seconds. Not common, but in theory this is possible. As well as each hour, day, or 1.34 seconds. None of these occur ‘in the wild’, but possible nonetheless.
  • Manually refreshed codes. These don’t refresh automatically, but only after each time you use it. The Pix Authenticator app will show a button to refresh and get the next code, as well as a little counter to show which iteration you are currently using.

These types don’t occur a lot, but Pix Authenticator can handle them all.

If you don’t have the codes yet, read here how to set up 2fa.