Handling Multi-Factor Authentication for SharePoint OneDrive Connections in Python

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will delve into the world of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and how to handle it when connecting to SharePoint OneDrive using Python. You’ll discover the power of Microsoft Authentication Library (MSAL) for Python and learn how to overcome common obstacles with MFA seamlessly.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

Connecting to services like SharePoint OneDrive programmatically can be challenging due to multi-factor authentication (MFA) requirements. While MFA enhances security, it introduces complexities for developers seeking automated connections.

To address this challenge effectively, we leverage the Microsoft Authentication Library (MSAL) for Python. This library supports OAuth 2.0 flows compatible with Azure AD’s MFA. Specifically, we focus on the Device Code Flow, ideal for scenarios where traditional web-based sign-ins are impractical.


from msal import PublicClientApplication

# Initialize the MSAL application object with your app details
client_id = 'YOUR_CLIENT_ID'
authority = "https://login.microsoftonline.com/YOUR_TENANT_ID"
app = PublicClientApplication(client_id, authority=authority)

# Get the device code
flow = app.initiate_device_flow(scopes=["Files.ReadWrite.All"])
if "user_code" not in flow:
    raise Exception("Failed to create device flow")


# Authenticate using the device code provided.
result = None
while not result:
    result = app.acquire_token_by_device_flow(flow)

# Checking if successfully authenticated 
if "access_token" in result:
    print("Successfully authenticated!")
    # Use result['access_token'] to connect to SharePoint OneDrive here.
    print("Authentication failed.")

# Copyright PHD


The solution involves several key steps:

  1. Initialization: Create an instance of PublicClientApplication from MSAL with your specific client ID and tenant ID.
  2. Device Flow Request: Initiate a device flow request which returns a user code and a verification URL.
  3. User Action Required: Users must visit the verification URL, enter the supplied code, and complete any necessary MFA steps.
  4. Token Acquisition: Continuously poll Azure AD until receiving an access token or encountering failure due to expiration or denial.

This approach eliminates the need for embedding credentials directly within scripts while seamlessly accommodating MFA requirements.

  1. How do I find my client ID and tenant ID?

  2. You can locate your client ID and tenant ID in your Azure portal under App registrations.

  3. Is Device Code Flow secure?

  4. Yes, as it requires user interaction at every login attempt, preventing unauthorized access without compromising security through embedded credentials.

  5. Can I use other OAuth 2.0 flows instead of Device Code Flow?

  6. Certainly! Depending on your context (e.g., web application or service-to-service scenario), alternative flows like Authorization Code Grant may be more suitable.

  7. What permissions are needed on my Azure AD app registration?

  8. For accessing SharePoint OneDrive files as demonstrated above, you typically require Files.ReadWrite.All, though specifics vary based on your needs.

  9. Do I always have to authenticate manually with Device Code Flow?

  10. Only once per session/token lifetime; subsequent authentications can occur automatically based on policy configurations until re-authentication is mandated by expiry or revocation.


By mastering multi-factor authentication handling in Python, developers gain seamless integration capabilities with secure resources such as SharePoint OneDrive while upholding stringent security standards prevalent in modern enterprise environments. This guide equips you with essential knowledge to navigate through common hurdles associated with multifactor authentication efficiently and effectively.

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