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I love the idea of protecting my Gmail account using two-factor authentication, but I don't own a cell phone. And I don't want to tie Gmail to a land line since the whole point of having the account is to be able to use mail when traveling.

Am I hosed, or are there other means of authenticating?

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  • 2
    Perhaps some VoIP or soft phone which can receive text messages?
    – iglvzx
    Apr 21, 2012 at 1:47

4 Answers 4

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Google only offers the following options:

  1. SMS Text Message
  2. Voice Calls
  3. Google Authenticator application mobile app
  4. 1-time use printable backup codes

You could use the printed codes to access your account when traveling, but other than that you'd need a phone or device that can run the Authenticator application.

Google Help - Setup of 2-Factor Authentication

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  • Can you actually use options (3) or (4) without needing a phone number for initial setup? If so, could you elaborate on how? Dec 29, 2014 at 7:08
  • @HighCommander4 It is now 2020 and options 3 and 4 still require a phone to be linked to the account. And of course, creating a new google account is now impossible without linking a phone from the beginning in the first place.
    – bparker
    Jun 19, 2020 at 15:41
  • Technically, there is a workaround for (3) and (4). Using emulated soft U2F / WebAuthn for initial setup, then use (3) and/or (4), then you may remove the U2F key. See: superuser.com/questions/1658659/…
    – geekley
    Jul 9, 2021 at 2:06
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Use an authenticator extension

Instead of using a phone app to generate codes, you can use one that's built to work in your browser instead. You'll first need to find and install one; though I haven't used it, Authenticator.cc is open-source, available on several browsers, and well documented (see their setup guide). After you've installed the extension, simply follow the steps to get verification codes with Google Authenticator but instead of scanning the QR code with your phone, the extension will scan it.

(No matter what, you can and should have backup codes, but relying on only those is less convenient.)

I've seen this strategy used in schools to great success (though I can't remember exactly what extension they used).

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You can probably make use of backup codes provided to you by Google but for that you need to start their service, you should have a cellphone or in your case, a landline, just to verify for first time.

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You can use some independent devices - hardware tokens. For example, Protectimus Slim NFC. They can be used as a hardware alternative to Google Authenticator. You require an Android smartphone with NFC to program the token. The smartphone is required only in the process of programming. Then the token will generate one-time passwords which will be required along with the login and password to get an access to your Gmail account. Tokens don’t require any internet or network connection.

Disclosure: I work for Protectimus Solutions.

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