Apple’s two-factor authentication system denies access to your Apple ID account by requiring you to enter a code in addition to your password that comes in through a trusted device (an iPhone, iPad, or Mac) or a trusted phone number-one verified after it was added. Trusted devices are easier to manage because they represent all devices that are signed in to the same Apple ID for use with iCloud. Reliable numbers are another matter.
I have long recommended that you add not only your own cell or other phone numbers as trusted numbers, but also that of a trustworthy person close to you, such as a life partner or relative. That gives you a backup when validating your account if there is a mass theft, an accident that destroys equipment, or you lose all your hardware.
But I have occasionally received correspondence, especially from companies, who want to remove trusted numbers because they no longer trust the person whose number it is or because they no longer have a relationship with that person.
It’s easy to remove a trusted number, but you should first make sure you still have access to trusted accounts for the account. Otherwise you could lock yourself out.
You can test that your trusted devices are properly paired by trying to sign in to the Apple ID website. It always requires a second factor code to access your account information if you haven’t used a stored identity in versions of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS and Safari that support it. You should receive a warning on all trusted devices that someone is trying to access your account, with a small preview of a card and two buttons: Allow or Deny.
If you see this, tap or click Allowenter the code shown in the appropriate locations on the Apple ID site and confirm successful login.
If you don’t get the Allow/Disallow prompt on any device, you need to find out why. You may have set up two-factor authentication for an Apple ID account that you’re not signed in to on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. I recommended this as a way to deal with Apple IDs that are used solely for buying media and apps, which is something many of us ended up with if we used Apple’s systems for a long time, because purchasing and cloud-based systems once using separate accounts.
In that scenario, you need to re-associate a trusted device with the account so that you don’t inadvertently lose access when you delete a trusted phone number. I recommended using a secondary account on a Mac with the iCloud account set as your Apple ID for purchase. (An iPhone or iPad can only be associated with a single Apple ID for iCloud; on a Mac, each account can have a separate iCloud-associated Apple ID, but they’re only active if you’re signed in to that Mac account.)
Once you’ve done that, log into that Mac account and see if you get the dual prompt and code there. If not, you’ll need to use an existing trusted phone number under your control to set up that secondary Mac account.
Now you can delete a trusted number that you don’t want to keep active:
In iOS or iPadOS, go to Settings > Account Name > Password & Securityand then tap edit next to the Trusted Phone Numbers label. Tap the red delete button in the song’s list and confirm the deletion.
In macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Information > Security, select a phone number and click the minus (-) button to delete it. Confirm the deletion by clicking remove.
In macOS 10.15 Catalina or later, go to System Preferences > Apple ID > Password & SecurityClick edit next to the Trusted phone numbers label, select a phone number and then click the minus (-) button to remove it. Confirm the deletion by clicking remove.
On the Apple ID site, sign in to your account and then click the edit button next to the Security section, click the “x” next to a trusted number to remove it, and finally confirm by pressing . to click remove.
This Mac 911 article answers a question from an anonymous Macworld reader.
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