In the Authenticator app you can hit transfer accounts -> Export Accounts. It will present with you a QR Code.

What exactly is this QR Code? Can it be used to backup Google Authenticator?

I am looking to hard reset my phone and I am looking for a way to backup and restore Authenticator.

  • 1
    If you have a lot of 2factor protected accounts you may think about using an alternative authenticator app that has backup functionality on the new phone. Authy is for example such an authenticator app.
    – Robert
    Aug 28 '20 at 8:06

The QR code contains all your private keys for generating the 2fa login code for each of the accounts you chose to export, so yes you can use it to backup and transfer to a new device. I would test that the screen shot works properly, and be very careful with the screen shot backup.

You can even extract the actual private keys from the QR code, i.e. with this script, https://scito.ch/content/extract-secret-keys-google-authenticator-qr-export

  • 1
    This is what I figured, but it's good to have a real answer. And yes of course, that screenshot isn't to bad taken lightly
    – user606723
    Feb 11 '21 at 15:36

Get verification codes with Google Authenticator - Android - Google Account Help explains how the QR codes are used:

  • They are used to transfer authentication codes on to new device or in your case after factory reset. QR code needs to be scanned to restore account(s). Screenshots may not work. It's better to use a scanner as explained here

  • You need to generate one QR code per account, if you are using multiple accounts.

  • They don't backup the authenticator app itself, you need to install the app on the new device or use Google cloud backup to restore app. Note that the restored app from cloud only restores preferences and not codes. Neither, is using adb to backup a good idea. If your device is rooted, of course, you can backup fully and restore using .

  • What exactly is this QR Code?

This blog explains (it's beyond me)

The QR codes simply divulge a URI with the secret key for generating tokens. They look like: otpauth://totp/[keyname]?secret=[secretkey]

  • Note that you are better off using Authy app as recommended in Google help page for reasons :

    • Recovery backups are encrypted.

    • Multi device support.

    • Better password protection.

    • Recognise all Google codes

      • Most importantly you can backup and restore easily.
  • This is not answering the question.
    – Chobicus
    Oct 18 '20 at 20:16

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