BlackBerry Z10, Gmail and 2-Step Authentication

Update: If you’ve arrived here looking for solutions to Gmail problems generally on the new BlackBerry OS 10, you might want to read my more recent article, Gmail + Google Apps on the BlackBerry Z10.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Z10
The old (Bold 9900) and the new (Z10) – any family resemblance is purely coincidental
One of the perks of my job is getting to try out some new mobile phones, once they’ve been released by my company’s preferred carrier. This week I took delivery of a BlackBerry Z10. It’s a really nice device, but given that my normal phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, I’m afraid I became a little bored of the Z10 within 10 minutes of powering it up. (Yeah yeah, I know, first world problems.)

Inevitably with BlackBerry OS 10 (which is a stonkingly good OS, by the way), one of the problems was going to be that the apps are lagging behind mainstream Apple and Android offerings. Google’s Play store and Apple’s App Store have apps outnumbering BlackBerry apps by a factor of 10. Whether BlackBerry will catch up is a question not even the most far-seeing analysts can predict with confidence.

In the meantime, there will be some speed bumps encountered by dedicated BlackBerry aficionados, such as the one I ran into when attempting to set up my Gmail account today. Like all security conscious users, I have 2-step authentication enabled on my Gmail account. That means that whenever I log into Gmail using a new device or application, a text message is sent to my phone containing a one-time authorisation code, which then needs to be entered into whichever application is trying to use my Gmail credentials.

The email app on BlackBerry 10 is not (yet) capable of handling this process. That means you need to use one of the alternative methods of authentication. To start, you must (preferably from a computer) log into your Google 2-step verification page. Once there, you can be forgiven for thinking that Google has got you covered. There is, after all, a link saying “BlackBerry”:

2-step verification

If you follow the link, you’re instructed to browse to and download the Authenticator app to your phone, following which everything will be ticketyboo. Except it won’t. You are taken to a largely blank web page. Buried deep within Google’s online help is the reason: “To use Google Authenticator on your BlackBerry device, you must have OS 4.5-7.0.” No OS 10 support then. Bother.

Never fear. Go back to the 2-step verification page and instead choose the Manage application-specific passwords link. Go to the bottom of that page (“Step 1 of 2: Generate a new application-specific password”). Enter a name (like “BlackBerry Z10”) and click “Generate”. You’ll be given a code to enter in the IMAP password and SMTP password boxes within the email setup on your phone. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.

42 Replies to “BlackBerry Z10, Gmail and 2-Step Authentication”

  1. Thanks for this post, it helped me finally add my gmail account to my Z10!
    Just to note, there is no box prompting you for an IMAP password, rather you enter your code in the password box beneath the box for your email.

  2. What about active sync…we can not see a .wmv voicemail attchemnt that our PBX sends out.
    Shows that there is an attachment but when you open the email nothing is there.

    1. Third parties often have issues implementing ActiveSync. It doesn’t help that Microsoft frequently seems to break its own standards. I would start by asking your I.T. department to make sure Exchange is fully patched. There were lots of fixes to ActiveSync rolled up in the Exchange 2010 Service Pack 2*, for example. Beyond that, debugging should start at the Exchange end, checking the event logs and the Exchange logs. Not something I’d be able to help with in detail, I’m afraid. One other thought: check the size of the attachment. If it’s too big, BlackBerry may baulk.

      *SP3 was released a couple of days ago.

        1. If neither works, I’d have to suspect that either the file size or the file format is a factor here. Can you experiment by changing the file extension to .mp3 and resending? Do other, larger files come through okay?

  3. Thanks Rob for these instructions. I was able to set up my GMail account to sync email, but I never got the option to sync contacts or calendars. I have searched the internet and found confusing answers; some said that this isn’t supported at all and some said that I can accomplish this with ActiveSync, but I have been unsuccessful. Do you have any suggestions for me?

          1. Hi Rob. The third device was the charm! I was able to sync my gmail, calendar and contacts all from the instructions in this article. Thank you so much for your help.

          2. Rob, do you troubleshoot other areas, as well? I spoke too soon, as I’m having the same Wi-fi problems on the new device that I was having on the first two.

          3. Oh, dear you have had bad luck! I think I’d be struggling to help long distance. If you’re on your third defective handset though, I’d seriously consider finding another supplier. :-/

          4. Thank you anyway, Rob. You have helped me a lot already with your instructions for GMail. When you suggested another supplier were you suggesting that I should try another Z10 from a different location, or were you suggesting that I try a different device? I’ve gotten devices from two different places now, and even two different countries.

            I finally got my carrier to push me through to BlackBerry support. They are still working to find a solution for me, but I’m still holding out hope that this can be resolved.

          5. You’re not alone, Brenda; according to this report, lots of folks are returning their handsets. If it’s any consolation, this sort of thing always seems to happen with “bleeding edge” products (i.e. the first wave of BlackBerry OS 10 devices).

            I did mean to try the same device from a different supplier, but obviously you’ve done that already. If you do persevere with a ‘Berry, make sure you’ve got the latest OS update. I bet there will be more bugs ironed out in upcoming releases too.

  4. thanks alot Rob, solved a problem for me 🙂 and in a very easy manner. Any other advices? thanks again

  5. Hi \rob. seems like you have the answers to most things BB Z10 related. I followed your instructions for the gmail sync. I am still getting an error saying that my gmail account settings have been changed and I should check the account. I have checked where I can but there doesn’t seem to be any port settings that I can change.


    1. Sorry Allan – remote support is really difficult for me. I would guess your best bet it to call BlackBerry support for this, or your mobile phone service provider. Wish I could be of more help!


  6. Looks more like gmail hasnt completed the required development needed so It could support new BB z10 devices. If there is no integration code on the gmail server side, I would not blame BB for not being able to configure two step authentication by default. Right ? Thanks for the post though,. Good to know the workaround.

    1. You raise a good point. Should the responsibility for support for the service lie with the service provider or the client application provider? In practice I would say it’s a mixture of the two. Hopefully as BlackBerry OS 10 matures, this proposition will be fleshed out more completely.

  7. Hi
    I have 3 gmail accounts set up on my z10, I haven’t activated the 2 step varification as yet.
    The problem is every day I have to re enter passwords for all accounts and its like even 3-4 times a day…
    It’s a real pain. How can I fix this ?

  8. thanks.
    yet to try them but about to as i am having issues with my z10.
    all the contacts just disappeared.
    initially, they were transferred to the z10 from my bold 9700 by the vendor and emails were set up at the same time. and all worked fine.
    but a few days ago, crash… no contacts, no calendar and no emails. i wonder if gmail is the cause as i can barely access the accounts/settings but other parts of settings are fine.

    1. Argh. That sounds awful, Brian. I hope you have a backup!

      You can’t rule out the possibility that some of these units will be faulty. You may have been one of the unlucky ones.

      As elsewhere, I’d recommend updating to the latest OS. If the problem occurs again, you might want to look at getting a replacement handset.

      1. thanks. awful indeed. i did a security wipe and re-entered all the accounts, and the gmail ones using your workaround, and it seems to work. all emails just flowed in, although i had to update the password on my mac mail client too. contacts seem to be there. i think that the phone was not correctly set up when i first got it so things disappeared. although i hope it is a permanent status and that things do not disappear again after a few days.

          1. Backup done. One thing I am confused about and I hope it does not result in the same issue returning is: when I re-entered all the Gmail info, I saw the on/off option for email, calendar and contacts but when I go back to settings/accounts and select Gmail, I see that email, contacts and calendar have been listed separately and you need to click into each one which takes you to a screen showing username, password, server and sync interval.

          2. No, I believe that’s correct; the o/s simplifies the initial configuration by making the three different services appears one, but after that, each is managed individually. It is not the same unified solution that you might see on Android or iOS, but it has the advantage that you can customise your CalDav/CardDav setup to a greater extent.

          3. i just installed the latest blackberry update,, and when it completed, it prompted me that the imap and login was needed. when i looked at the settings, everything was in red. i re-entered my normal password for each gmail account (not the new application specific) and then was asked for a code sent to my phone sms. is this right or should i have entered my new application specific password?

          4. Brian,

            Thanks for this. I would interpret those symptoms as BlackBerry introducing proper two-factor authentication to its Gmail implementation. I haven’t been able to find any specific notes that confirm this however. If you are now receiving a code when setting up accounts, this should make life easier and the application-specific password would appear to be redundant.

            Note however that my BlackBerry unit is currently sat in a drawer, unused, so I have not personally verified this.


  9. Rob,

    Thanks for time and effort into this. Just one questin:

    ” You’ll be given a code to enter in the IMAP password and SMTP password boxes within the email setup on your phone. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.”

    There is an SMTP password but no IMAP password. I tried sticking my code into the IMAP Path Prefix with, of course, no luck. I naturally use my gmail password in the password box, the code in the SMTP p/w box.

    Have I missed something?

    Best, Herve

    1. Herve,

      You use the same application-specific password in both password boxes. In other words, you don’t use your normal Gmail password at all.

      Hope this helps!


  10. Thanks Rob. Tried this but still getting the infamous login information for IMAP server…

    Oh well, maybe email is not meant to be used with Blackberry after all? 🙂

    Thanks anyway, I am “escalating”

    Best, Herve

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