If you’ve ever paid a chunk of change for a shareware application or subscription, you know the drill. Serial keys in the form of plain-text strings or files are pretty much the universal standard. The web has evolved in a way that should make it relatively easy for you to track down any keys you’ve paid for, be it by searching through your Gmail account or emailing the vendor directly, but that takes time. If you ever lose one of these keys, the preferred solution should (obviously) be to find it for yourself!
Those keys live inside that hard drive of yours. Anything that you download, upload, type and send, save and store exists somewhere on your hard drive. You’ve just got to know where to find it. That being said, let’s look at three portable applications that ought to make finding those keys a little easier for you.
I’m grouping these two applications together because, well, they’re nearly the same! Enchanted Keyfinder is actually just a fork of Magical Jellybean Keyfinder with a few tweaks and adjustments. Both applications look and function just the same. The only difference is the results that each pull.
Magical Jellybean Keyfinder comes with a paid version that can apparently seek out more of your serial keys, but I’ll be going over the free version in this article. The portable installation is just a little over 400 KB.
You can see the basic functionality of the application right here. In the status bar, you can see 169 locations were loaded and 6 keys were found on my system. Applications are listed in the left frame and key information is shown in the right. The amount of information shown is completely dependent on what application you’re looking at. Some will show the serial key alone. Be advised that some entries listed here could be blank. MJKF has a habit of including unregistered entries that require license information.
Under the File, you have the option to save or print your found results. Entries will be saved as a text file and printed in the same format.
As aforementioned, Enchanted Keyfinder functions exactly the same. The only difference is that you may find that it discovers keys that MJKF has left behind. When you’re searching for a key in specific, if one of the two don’t have it then I recommend you check out the other.
Both applications are fairly limited in the amount of keys that they’ll reveal to you, but it’s surely better than nothing!
LicenseCrawler is inherently more extensive than both MJKF and Enchanted Keyfinder just by its nature. It does a complete scan of your registry and isn’t limited by any restrictions a paid application may impose.
Upon launching LicenseCrawler, you’re promoted with the following disclaimer:
The main application interface may come across as comparatively intimidating and more confusing than our last two.
LicenseCrawler actually has network support, and you can search for keys on another computer on the network. Other than that, I recommend scanning using the default options you can see in the above screenshot (assuming you’re on a 64-bit system). You may find the white list or black list features useful, and these settings work best for the average user.
Click the Start Search button to begin your scan. You should get a popup similar to the following:
Don’t get flustered by it! LicenseCrawler is not adware. This is how the author of LicenseCrawler makes a modest living from the application, I’m assuming. To disable the popup, you’ll need to register a copy of LicenseCrawler. I’d just recommend ticking Close after time-out, as your scan will take longer than the enforced 20 seconds anyway.
From here, LicenseCrawler should be busily scanning your registry for keys.
LicenseCrawler actually found 26 keys on my system when the scan was complete, which is plenty more than what the other two applications in this article had to offer. Nonetheless, there are still a few that MJKF and Enchanted Keyfinder found that weren’t found in this scan. Again, it’s best to have a range of solutions in case one fails you.
After the scan has completed, you can check the File or Tools menus to save, encrypt, and encode or decode LicenseCrawler dumps.
None of these three solutions are perfect and not any of them will reveal 100% of the serial codes that exist on your system. Nonetheless, they may be able to get the job done where your memory, email, or printed documents have failed. It’s good to have these options.
Also, please be advised that these applications are safe and virus-free. I’m sure you can imagine why many anti-virus applications would see an application that reveals serial keys and crawls sensitive system areas as malicious. It is simply a false positive.
Let me know what you think of these key finders in the comments!