I am using Google Authenticator for 2-step authentication. I like how I can use a code and verify my account using my phone:

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I realize that the app was designed to run on a device other than a computer to increase security for the computer (in case that it is lost or stolen), but I would like to know if there is a way I can run Google Authenticator on my Macbook.

Now, per the Google Authenticator Page it will not run on a desktop:

What devices does Google Authenticator work on?

  • Android version 2.1 or later
  • BlackBerry OS 4.5 - 6.0
  • iPhone iOS 3.1.3 or later

However there are several emulators for developers and so I wonder if it is possible to run one of these emulators and then run Google Authenticator with that. I do realize this is not a best practice - but I'm less worried about my laptop getting stolen and more worried about someone just hacking the account.

So my question is this: Is it possible to run it on the desktop, even though it is not meant to be / not recommended?

  • nah, kind of defeats the purpose, if you think about it. but if you really want to defeat that purpose, this article explains how albertech.blogspot.com/2016/10/…
    – jar
    Oct 18, 2016 at 22:45
  • however, as an alternative to GAuth under emulation you could just use oathplus - soundly.me/oathplus - it's essentially Google Authenticator for the command-line (I'm the dev).
    – jar
    Nov 11, 2016 at 4:18
  • By that same logic shouldn’t you avoid accessing all those websites that have enabled 2fa on your mobile (which is generally more likely to get stolen anyway)...?
    – MmM
    Jan 6, 2019 at 16:15
  • This Firefox addon can also be explored. addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/auth-helper does this well.
    – Animesh D
    Jan 11, 2020 at 6:35
  • the main purpose of 2fa is to prevent unauthorized access in case your password gets stolen (usually via phishing or because you use weak password or use the same password for multiple services). It has little to do with preventing access in case any of your physical devices get stolen. Furthermore, mobile phones get stolen waaay more often than desktop computers. Finally both mobile and desktop devices should be encrypted, so even if they are stolen your data is safe. Given these, there's absolutely 0 security related reasons why you shouldn't use your desktop to generate your OTP codes.
    – morgwai
    Jun 28, 2022 at 14:49

22 Answers 22


Install oath-toolkit via brew, generate your keys with:

oathtool --totp -b <your_secret>

To get your secret, use the 'change phone' option in Google. You can get your key by clicking the 'manually enter the key' link.

  • 1
    Awesome! Only problem now - can't log in when I don't have my laptop. Sep 1, 2016 at 16:08
  • 20
    Copy the secret to a fairly secure file: (umask 0077;pbpaste > ~/.totp_google). Write a shell function to put the TOTP in your clipboard: totp() { oathtool --totp -b $(<~/".totp_${1:-google}") | pbcopy; }. Add other secrets for other services: (umask 0077;pbpaste > ~/.totp_github). Select which token you want from the function: totp github. Profit!!!
    – kojiro
    Oct 13, 2016 at 0:11
  • 4
    FWIW I wrote a shell wrapper that does @kojiro 's suggestion: github.com/poolpog/bash-otp
    – JDS
    Nov 2, 2016 at 17:24
  • Here's a short shell script that reads the Google Authenticator app's database file and generates a live code for each key, providing you have enough access to your device to copy the file over to your PC.
    – Malvineous
    Oct 1, 2017 at 9:15
  • 1
    @JasonR.Coombs you should be able to login to both the laptop and your phone with the same secret key. Just did it right now and both generate the same 6 digit passcode.
    – John Lee
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:20

There is a Self Hostable Web App at https://github.com/gbraad/html5-google-authenticator This is not secure on an internet facing machine, but you can load this on a completely offline Machine and you'd be safe.

  • 1
    It looks really good - just makes me nervous b/c I don't easily understand everything that makes it work :)
    – cwd
    May 25, 2013 at 0:30
  • 4
    basically, it's using local storage inside your browser to store a secret key, local storage is only accessible from the domain it was written from (someone correct me if i'm wrong), it then uses the current time and the secret key from the local storage, to compute what the key should be. It's all just Javascript goodness
    – Jharwood
    May 28, 2013 at 13:11
  • 1
    This one is awesome bro. Now I don't need to run a VirtualBox or Bluestacks for this. Mar 24, 2014 at 16:41
  • 1
    That's fantastic. You can use rawgit to run the app now or use a version pinned to a commit if you have concerns about the code mutating. Sep 1, 2016 at 16:24

Yes. You can use WinAuth. Works fine for me.

  • Open source + very simple to use, and works even on Vista (which Authy does not do).
    – Casper
    Jun 29, 2018 at 16:35
  • Worked fine for me. Used it because it runs in my machine, is open source, GNU licensed and there's a binary to download. It has a nice option "copy on new code" that automatically copies a new code to the clipboard.
    – neves
    Jun 16, 2020 at 19:39
  • warning for folks finding this answer in 2022 or beyond: this application is no longer maintained, so since we're dealing with security, do not use this anymore. May 27, 2022 at 19:31

JAuth is a good alternative - Java based (has Windows, Linux, and OS X installers), small and portable. I keep a copy on a USB drive.

  • For my money, this ought to be the accepted answer. JAuth is works great, and has its own installer. It really couldn't be any easier.
    – evadeflow
    Apr 11, 2014 at 13:37
  • If JAuth_KS file is leaked can somebody else generate One Time Passwords for my accounts?
    – Saqib Ali
    Nov 3, 2016 at 15:07
  • 2
    I found the UI confusing. For me, on Linux Mint (Ubuntu based), the buttons were 3x3 px wide and hard to click, and what do they mean? The > button for example. + hard to see what's a button and what is some kind of title. — I wish they hadn't built any GUI at all, instead everything via the command line in Bash / Win CMD. I guess that would have saved them fairly much time too
    – KajMagnus
    Nov 16, 2016 at 12:47
  • Can JAuth be configured for more than one account?
    – d-b
    Jul 7, 2018 at 7:10
  • The installers don't work any more for OS X. And it's confusing how to even use it!
    – rogerdpack
    Jun 13, 2020 at 14:18

Try Authy: https://www.authy.com/.

It works for many 2fa accounts, including Google. Authy supports multiple platforms, including PC.

Note: Google seems to only provide a QR code for adding accounts. This means it's easiest to add your Google account via the Authy Android app. However, once you do that, you can also access it from the PC Authy app.

  • 1
    By far the best solution. It has a Chrome Extension too :) Dec 3, 2015 at 10:26
  • 10
    Requires an online account.
    – pgampe
    Mar 30, 2016 at 20:19
  • 3
    Just to be clear, this is a web app? And you have to upload your secrets to a third party?
    – jiggunjer
    Oct 18, 2017 at 3:50
  • 3
    This requires a phone number. Oct 6, 2019 at 13:31
  • 1
    @SuperSandro2000 what alternative do you use that doesnt use a phone number?
    – fersarr
    Sep 18, 2021 at 15:57

Forget the others if you have to deal with more than one key, pass or any other kind of information. It is always a question how do you use it. The easiest method is to use an password management tool (please do not use online services for such things, LastPass has been hacked too).

Here is my suggestion (works on Linux, Mac, Android), this one is for Windows users:

  1. Download latest KeePass (currently 2.32) and set your DB up (please secure it with more than just an pass, an certificate makes it all more secure as example)
  2. Download TrayTOTP Plugin for KeePass and copy it into plugins folder located in KeePass installation folder.
  3. For an entry in KeePass, create two custom strings for your keepass entry:

    First string: TOTP Seed
    Second string: TOTP Settings

    Under TOTP Seed, you should place your seed key. For settings, many are confused, especially newbies. By default (and most use defaults) new key is always created every 30 seconds and has length of 6 characters. That means, if not explicitly set, then TOTP Settings should have:


    30: Stands for seconds
    6: Stands for length of a key

    I know only couple services where you can choose or set it manually, Kraken Exchange is one of them, when you secure your account, you can choose length up to 8 characters and totp settings would be 30;8

  4. Change Autotype :) , there are two types of pages and how they verify.

    First: You can enter username, password and 2FA key.
    Second: You need to enter username and password, after pressing enter/submitting, second page/frame shows asking for 2FA.

    For first case, edit your KeePass entry by changing autotype options. Click on "Override default sequence" which is:


    and add pressing additional TAB, then placing TOTP key and then pressing ENTER:


    For second case, we need to send user and pass, then wait 1-3 seconds (I will set here 5 seconds) and then 2FA key:


That's it. Press CTRL+V or right click and perform autotype, that's it.

  • 1
    KeePassXC is another version of KeePass that is cross platform and supports 2fa/OTP. Works well. Sep 19, 2018 at 2:50

You could use Oracle's VirtualBox, Android x86 OS, and then install the Authenticator. This would essentially give you the Google Authenticator on a desktop.

VirtualBox: https://www.virtualbox.org/

Android x86: http://www.android-x86.org/

  • Seriously isn't that a little bit overkill? Jan 27, 2023 at 8:24
  • @SteveMoretz today? Yes. Back in 2012? No.
    – kobaltz
    Jan 27, 2023 at 12:27
  • It's great that still today there is no official desktop app for this, nothing much has changed in this area has it? :) Jan 27, 2023 at 14:57

Disclaimer: I'm the Author :-)


Its a google authenticator web app.

This is a static website hosted on github pages. You could just use my version or fork the gh-pages branch and hosted on your own github page.

No External Services are used, local JavaScript execution only


  • generate totp codes
  • show remaining valid seconds for totp code
  • parse otpauth URLs in 'secret' input field
  • generate otpauth URL QR code

Here is an Example

  • Looks neat and simple. The example seems to always generate 000 000 (need to manually copy the secret from the url). Apr 23, 2021 at 12:36
  • @corwin.amber you are right the example link is deprecated, cause I removed the secret parameter support for security reasons. I've fixed the link.
    – qoomon
    Apr 23, 2021 at 12:53

There's also a Firefox OS app version. It doesn't need Firefox to run first, and you can actually install Firefox portable so it doesn't impact your system.



I hacked together an oath-toolkit integration with a CLI that works in Quicksilver too. The CLI Bash Script and .otpkeys Configuration File example can be found in the Quicksilver and OTP: Together At Last blog post.

You'll need your secret keys so you can put them into the config.

Bash Script:

scriptname=`basename $0`
if [ -z $1 ]
    echo "$scriptname: Service Name Req'd"
    echo ""
    echo "Usage:"
    echo "   otp google"
    echo ""
    echo "Configuration: $HOME/.otpkeys"
    echo "Format: name=key"
otpkey=` grep ^$1 $HOME/.otpkeys | cut -d"=" -f 2 | sed "s/ //g" `
if [ -z $otpkey ]
    echo "$scriptname: Bad Service Name"
/usr/local/bin/oathtool --totp -b $otpkey

Configuration File example for .otpkeys -- spaces are stripped.

google=a743 mike k3b4 rm5k z8a9 q6f5 id1k bxk1
facebook=OWBV Q9LF POQ2 MKYU
dropbox=iop4 xbox asia b0ss ninj a9

Usage -- specify the full or partial service name from the config, anchored to the beginning of the service name. E.g. 'goo' will work for google, but 'oogl' will not.

iso : ~ --> otp google
iso : ~ --> otp goo

On MAC (OSX) you can use Alfred* and the GAuth-Workflow to get the Google Authenticator on your Desktop.

  • Workflows are only supported with the (paid) Powerpack version.
  • Sascha, Have you been able to find a more native app for Mac OS to generate the Google Tokens?
    – Saqib Ali
    Nov 3, 2016 at 18:49

I'm surprised that no one mentions the following 2 apps.

Authenticator - Happy Two-Factor Verifying! / $2.99

OTP Manager / Free

  • Authenticator price is $3.49 for me. And author's GitHub page is not there anymore. Dec 2, 2018 at 11:04

YubiKey offers a hardware solution (an USB dongle) that's capable of doing OATH-TOTP.

There's also a Windows helper program:



There's a Chrome app that's compatible: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gauth-authenticator/ilgcnhelpchnceeipipijaljkblbcobl?hl=en


You can use my script: otp.py

The downside of it is that:

  1. you'll see a proper countdown only when the first code expires :)
  2. this zenity popup doesn't allow copy & paste (this is a big limitation IMO)
  3. it was working on Mac, but Cocoa Dialog was retired and it doesn't work anymore.
  4. perhaps it can be adapted to work on Windows, by installing Zenity on Windows (which is possible).

I'm just getting up to speed with this myself, but it appears that there is now a google-authenticator command-line interface that's distributed with the PAM module at https://github.com/google/google-authenticator-libpam.

Some further information on setup (aimed at use with ssh on CentOS) can be found in an article at https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-multi-factor-authentication-for-ssh-on-centos-7.


There is an open-source authenticator implementation: https://github.com/Authenticator-Extension/Authenticator.


Open-sourced keeweb has OTP option built-in, on top of the password manager + autogen pass. Works on MacOSX and as a WebApp



For Python user, there is a little tool called mfa available through PyPI. Just install it using pip install mfa.


  • Be aware: This software is no longer maintained nor recommended. Nov 15, 2020 at 17:08

If you wrote down the seed for your sites and have Python (easy to install on Mac/Windows/linux), you can use this command line script, which also tries to hide the seed from inadvertent bad use: twisted2sv.


Use this Python simple script to get authentication code all you have to do is add your secret when prompt.



Install and run Google Authenticator on BlueStacks Android emulator - very easy and it gives you a single click Google Authenticator shortcut on the desktop that will load bluestacks with authenticator already open. Almost as good as a Google Authenticator desktop app.

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