How to unlock your iPhone with a security key

It is important to note that you do not want to lose your security key. Apple will ask you to set up two to start with so you can keep a backup in a safe place. But if you lose both of them somehow, there’s a chance you’ll be permanently banned from your account (there may be recovery options, but Apple doesn’t specify what they are, perhaps for security reasons).

You also have to follow this process when you sign in to your Apple ID in a new web browser, and there are a few places where it doesn’t work (at least not yet). Perhaps the most important is iCloud for Windows, so you may want to wait if you use your Apple account on Windows devices. And you can’t use security keys with Apple devices with older software or with Apple IDs assigned to children.

Set security keys

The first step is to buy a pair of security keys, which cost around $50 each online. says apple you need keys certified to work with the FIDO (Fast ID Online) standard and with the correct connections for your devices: NFC (iPhones), lightning, USB-C or USB-A only. It’s fine to use adapter dongles and cables with these security keys, which should make it easier to find keys that work for whatever you’ll be using.

With your physical keys in hand and the latest software updates installed, you can set everything up from an iPhone or iPad by going to Settings, tapping your name at the top and choosing Password & Security. To elect Add security keys to be guided through the process of associating them with your Apple ID. At the same time, you can view all devices currently associated with your Apple ID.

The YubiKey 5C NFC is a security key recommended by Apple.

Photo: Yubico

On macOS, make sure you’re running the latest software and then open it Apple menu and choose System settings. Click your name at the top of the navigation pane on the left, then choose Password & Security and click Add next to the Security Keys heading. You will then be guided through the steps required to link your keys to your account and will be shown the devices you already use with your Apple ID.

You must add at least two security keys to your account, as we mentioned earlier, and you can add up to six. Go to the same screens on iOS, iPadOS, or macOS if you want to delete one or more of your security keys. You see one Remove all security keys choice. If you select this, the two-factor authentication process reverts to using the passcode method, as before.

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