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Multi-factor authentication fix for SharePoint Designer 2013 & Office 2013 client apps

Even though I have been working with SharePoint & Office products for a very long time I still always learn something new especially when authentication methods change. Many of my customers have started enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) which is the smart thing to do however this does cause problems authenticating with Office 2013 client apps.

Some of my friends in the community might laugh at this post especially those who only support “modern” but not everyone is on modern and not every organization is running the latest Office client apps. I happen to still support customers who are using classic SharePoint team sites with Content Query web parts CQWP) and Content Search web parts (CSWP). Call me lazy but when they need changes I prefer to use SharePoint Designer to update the XSL template and search display template files instead of mapping the directory to a network drive. Connecting to SharePoint Designer is fine and dandy until MFA is enabled.

For this post I’m going to show you how I fixed MFA authentication issues with SharePoint Designer 2013. Once MFA is enabled, I would get the following error if I tried to login with my O365 username and password.

MFA01b
Then if I tried using my MFA app password I’d get this error.

MFA02
While this wasn’t the first time I’ve had this issue, I never knew how to make it work until today and I sure wish I knew about this fix sooner.

By default, Office 2013 client apps (including SharePoint Designer 2013) support legacy authentication and Office 2016 client apps support modern authentication. This means if you need to use modern auth for Office 2013 or legacy auth for Office 2016 then you have to set registry keys for the Windows client. This explains why I could never login to SharePoint Designer 2013 and why I’ve been having issues with other Office client apps.

Article: How modern authentication works for Office 2013 and Office 2016 client apps

To make SharePoint Designer 2013 use modern authentication, I added the following registry key to my Windows 10 machine.

Registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Identity
Type:
REG_DWORD
Name: EnableADAL

Value: 1

MFA03After making the registry change, I re-opened SharePoint Designer 2013 and was able to connect to the site collection successfully.

MFA05d

Voila! I’m now officially logged into a SharePoint Online site collection using MFA credentials.

MFA06

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