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Three Places You Might Find the Key
The key you need will be in one of three places:
- Stored in software on your PC: When you (or your PC manufacturer) installs Windows, Windows stores its product key in the registry. You can extract this product key, and–often–enter it when reinstalling Windows on your PC. Crucially, you’ll need to grab it from your operating system before you begin reinstalling Windows or it could be deleted if you format your hard drive.
- Printed on a sticker: Some PCs use a technology called “System Locked Pre-installation,” or SLP. If your PC uses this, the product key on your PC–the one stored in the registry, and the one key-viewer applications display–will be different from the actual key your PC needs. The actual key is on a certificate of authenticity (COA) sticker on your PC or its power supply. The one in the registry and key-viewer application is a red herring. This system was common for Windows 7 PCs.
- Embedded in your PC’s UEFI firmware: Many newer PCs that come with Windows 8 or 10 use a new method. The key for the version of Windows the PC comes with is stored in the computer’s UEFI firmware or BIOS. You don’t even need to know it–assuming you’re installing the same edition of Windows the PC came with, it should automatically activate and work without you needing to enter a key. It’ll all happen automatically.
Be sure to use the same version and edition of Windows the computer came with. In other words, if it came with Windows 7 Home Premium, you can’t install Windows 7 Professional.
Free upgrade to Windows 10
If you upgraded to Windows 10 for free from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should have a digital license instead of a product key.
Way 3: Find lost Windows product key with PowerShell
Step 1: Type powershell in the search box in Windows Start menu. Then right-click Windows PowerShell and select Run as administrator to open the PowerShell as administrator.
Step 2: Type the following command and press Enter key. Then your Windows product key will be displayed.
Tips: The second and third way are for your reference only, which usually works for OEM Windows. As different computers are produced by different manufacturers and the differences between Windows system, the way to find product key should be different. If all the three ways above don’t work for you, then you can use a specialized product key finder software. Following we highly recommend iSumsoft Product Key Finder – the new generation of product key finder software.
Once Belarc Advisor gets installed , it opens a page in your web browser, giving all the details about your PC including product keys.If you are looking for a powerful tool that can help you find your product keys in minutes, you can trust the Belarc Advisor eyes closed. It’s being used for years and helps extract product keys for Windows and other programs also. The best part is that it is extremely precise in finding out the license keys or serial numbers for any of your installed applications. Including the Windows, it extracts information for CPU, network information, video card, motherboard, RAM, software update and software installation. What’s more, as Belarc Advisor is completely free, comes with no annoying adware or toolbars, and lists the results in your browser window.
Compatibility: Windows 10, Windows 8 & 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2012/2008/2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 98, and Windows 95.
A digital copy of Windows 10 or Windows 11 from an authorized retailer
Find your product key in the confirmation email you received after buying Windows 10 or Windows 11 in a digital locker accessible through the retailer’s website.
Retrieve any of your lost product keys or serial numbers effortlessly using the free software, Winkeyfinder. It’s a compact program that helps you to track license keys used during the Windows OS installation. It helps you recover product keys for MS Windows 8, MS Windows 8.1, windows XP, win 2000, windows me, 98, 2003 and .NET. It pulls up the product keys from their registry and presents them to you on the screen.
It’s a portable software hence, requires no installation. Apart from being able to copy, save or print the license key for future use, you can also modify the local Windows registration information with just a single click. That’s not all as you can even modify the product keys for Windows and MS Office in some operating systems.
Compatibility: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98
Use NirSofts ProduKey to Recover Product Keys (Even if You Cant Boot the PC)
The easiest way to get access to your product key is with a third-party utility, and there’s nobody better at those than NirSoft. Their utilities are always crapware-free, and are always really useful. The only issue with this particular utility is that some antivirus will detect it as a false positive, because some malware might try to steal your product key.
Note: the NirSoft keyfinder won’t always work for OEM computers, depending on how they decided to activate the licenses. If your OEM installed your computer and used a single key for all their PCs, this won’t work. It also doesn’t work for Office 2013.
All you have to do is download ProduKey, unzip it, and then run it to immediately see all of your product keys. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to recover a key from a dead computer, you can hook up the hard drive to a working PC, and then run ProduKey and use File > Select Source to point to the external Windows directory. You can then grab the keys from that computer easily.
You can also use a Linux live CD to pull the Windows directory off the other computer and onto a thumb drive, or just grab the registry files if you prefer. If you need help, we’ve got a guide to pulling data off a dead computer.