Here’s how fast you can add a USB security key on Windows 11

Dave W Shanahan
6 min readMay 25, 2022

Here’s what you need to do to set up a USB security key on Windows 11.

1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options.
2. Under Ways to sign in, go to Security key and click Manage.
3. After you click Manage, a window will pop up prompting you to insert your USB security key. Insert your USB security key or tap your NFC reader to verify your identity on your Windows 11 PC now.
4. Once your physical security key is connected, you can either change the Security Key PIN or Reset Security Key back to factory settings.
5. Click Close when you are finished.

A physical USB security key plugs into your computer’s USB port and functions as an extra layer of protection that’s used on Windows 11 and your Microsoft Account.

When you use Windows Hello as a sign in authentication method, you typically think about providing your face or your fingerprint for verification. But you could also use a FIDO2-compliant USB physical security key

You can use a USB security key with a unique PIN as a passwordless sign-in method to sign into Windows 11 and access your Microsoft account.

Because security keys require you to have the physical device and something that only you know, like a unique PIN, physical security keys are considered to be a stronger authentication method than using just a username and password.

Set up a USB security key on Windows 11

Of course, you can’t simply create a USB physical security key by just using any spare USB flash drive like you can create a USB startup key. Instead, you need to buy a FIDO2 security key.

According to Microsoft, a FIDO2 security key is “an unphishable standards-based passwordless authentication method.” FIDO2 security keys are typically USB devices that are equipped with Bluetooth or NFC.

Since a FIDO2 USB security key is equipped with the hardware to handle the authentication, the security of the account is increased because there’s no password that could be exposed or guessed. FIDO2 security keys are a great option for enterprises who are very security sensitive…

Dave W Shanahan Tech Writer. I love to write about Microsoft and other stuff.