The 2-step verification option in Google accounts adds an extra layer of security against hacking and phishing attacks. In the 2-step verification a security code is sent to your mobile phone which you must enter in order to sign in to your Google account. But some of the older software do not have any support to use the 2-step verification and so they fail to login to your Google account after you have enabled the 2-step verification. For example, you may see an error message – “Application-specific password required” when accessing Gmail through Thunderbird email client after enabling the 2-step verification system. Fortunately, the 2-step verification system is backwards compatible and allows to generate app specific passwords to be used in older apps that cannot use the new 2-step verification.
Here is how you can generate an app specific password in your Google account if you have enabled the 2-step verification:
- On the settings page in your Google account switch to the Security section (you can open this by visiting https://www.google.com/settings/security). Click on Settings shown next to 2-step Verification.
- On the 2-step verification settings page, select the App Specific Passwords tab and then click on the Manage Application Specific Passwords button.
- Type in the name of the app for which you want to create the password (e.g., “Thunderbird”) and click on the Generate button.
- You would immediately see a 16-character long app password on the screen. You can enter this password instead of the Google account’s login password in the app for which you created it. This password can be revoked at any later time and you can generate as many passwords for as many apps as you want.
Conclusion: It is fairly easy to use your Google account through older apps that do not support signing in through the new 2-step verification system. For these apps, you can generate app specific passwords and continue signing in to Google through them using the old fashion way.