I managed to get myself in a two-factor authentication pickle. My Apple id is associated with a Mac (currently running OS X Yosemite), an iPhone and an iPad.

The iPad just came back from repair and I needed to restore it from the cloud. Unfortunately before doing that I lost my iPhone! I now have nothing that can receive the two-factor authentication codes. (Didn't see that one coming!)

My Mac is tied to my iCloud account and Apple Id, and I see that Sierra can receive these codes and that I can upgrade from Yosemite which is what's currently running on the Macbook Pro.

If I upgrade to Sierra will that mean my Mac can then also receive the two factor codes (allowing me then to get my iPad back up and running)?

Or will I be out of luck as I may need to use two-factor to get the laptop properly set up with Sierra? If that's the case then I do not want to upgrade as it means I may lose the limited iCloud access that I have via the Mac.


N.B. Yes, have a full trustworthy backup of the Mac on Time Machine.

  • Have you read the "Two-factor authentication for Apple ID - FAQ - What if I can't access a trusted device or didn't receive a verification code?" from support.apple.com/en-us/HT204915#FAQ ?? Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 12:46
  • Yes I have. It's not helpful as I'm currently running Yosemite and none of the advice is appropriate. Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 13:18
  • The first hurdle is you need to have access from an existing trusted device before any Mac can join the trust circle. Are you basically asking for this as an answer or more hypothetically - can it work assuming you aren’t locked out currently.
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 13:35
  • Well - If you have set up a phone number as described, then you can also have the code send to this number - "Click Didn't Get a Code on the sign in screen and choose to send a code to your trusted phone number." Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 14:46
  • 1
    @bmike all is revealed. I finally got hold of my lost iPhone again (phew - thank you Uber driver). When I look at my devices it describes them as “trusted and can receive verification codes” - however for the Mac it describes it as “This device cannot receive verification codes”. So, I think the answer to my original question is “No.” as if it were trusted it would probably say so explicitly. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


You can request the two factor code to be sent to your phone number instead. Click the "Didn't get a code" on iPad, where you're asked to enter the code. Then you can get it sent to your trusted phone number.

The trusted phone number doesn't have to be an iPhone, so you can use any dumb phone that can receive SMS text messages.

  • Unfortunately that’s not going to work as these numbers all need to be configured before losing all access to the two-factor code. Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 23:43
  • You cannot setup 2FA without supplying a phone number, so it must have been done before access was or is going to be lost. You can just try it out before doing any changes to your computer.
    – jksoegaard
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 6:33

I am fairly confident that the answer to this is “No, the device is not yet trusted and updating the operating system will not change that.”

The reason being that having regained my phone and therefore the ability to get two factor codes I see my devices described as “trusted” with the exception of the laptop.

It seems unlikely that the laptop could be considered trusted until it is explicitly signed in by one of the other trusted devices.

If I feel brave one day I may upgrade the OS and see if that is correct.

(Oh, and yes, lesson learned - I have added a whole bunch of extra backup numbers so I can get verification codes through multiple avenues!)


The answer is indeed “no”. Having updated to Sierra I cannot be fully integrated with iCloud without getting it in to the trust circle.

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