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A fresh Windows installation feels wonderful. Whether you opt for a convenient Reset 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch Windows 10 is still Windows, meaning it will need a fresh start every once in a while. We show you how you can get a fresh Windows 10 installation with as little effort as possible. Read More or reinstall Windows Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More from scratch, remember to back up all your data. Don’t forget to include the serial numbers and product keys of programs you would like to reinstall.

Here we’ll show you how to recover lost product keys or find serial numbers stored on your system, including your Windows product key Everything You Should Know About Windows Product Keys Everything You Should Know About Windows Product Keys 25 characters govern your Windows system. Your product key is worth $100 or more, whether or not you upgraded to Windows 10. We explain what you can and can't do with your Windows license. Read More .

1. Third Party Tools

The following tools may trigger your antivirus. Be advised that this is a false positive. The utilities listed below are free, malware free, and safe to use.

ProduKey

ProduKey is a small portable utility from NirSoft that can recover Microsoft product keys, including Windows, Office, and Exchange. It also supports Visual Studio and selected Adobe and Autodesk products. If you’re looking for a serial number that doesn’t fall into one of these software categories, try one of the other tools below.

To view the product key information of software installed on another computer or within another operating system, you can use several command line options as outlined on PrduKey’s download page. /remoteall for example will enumerate all computers on your local network.

Belarc Advisor

This tool officially supports Windows 10 and all other Windows versions down to Windows XP SP3, including both 32- and 64-bit versions. Rather than just displaying the license numbers of installed software, it creates a full profile of your system. Once the scan has completed, it will launch a report in a new browser window.

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The Belarc Advisor report includes a list of software licenses, but also software versions and usage, and countless other details about your system.

If you like this tool, you might also like System Information for Windows , which will produce a similar system report.

LicenseCrawler

The portable LicenseCralwer can recover a wide range of serial numbers and registration keys from the Windows registry. If you experience an error when trying to start up the program, try this: right-click the EXE file and select Run as administrator .

Point it to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to search for serial numbers. The scan is thorough and will take much longer than with any of the other tools. Once the scan has completed, head to the File menu to save or encrypt the results. Under Tools you can also decode or encode LicenseCrawler dumps.

Note that this program is supported by ads, though it doesn’t come with any adware or malware.

Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder

This key finder supports over 300 programs, runs on 32- and 64-bit systems and will recover serial numbers from a non-bootable Windows system. It retrieves serial numbers from the registry, meaning it won’t find keys stored in the BIOS or outside the registry.

Like with ProduKey, power users will appreciate its command line options.

Jalapeno Key Finder

This oldie looks much like a clone of Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. The free version supports 200 of the most common programs. It supposedly only runs on 32-bit versions of Windows, but it launched fine on our 64-bit system. As an alternative, you can try the more powerful version 1.06 (download from Major Geeks) or one of the other free tools above.

Note that this utility requires the Microsoft NET Framework Microsoft .NET Framework: Why You Need It and How to Install It on Windows Microsoft .NET Framework: Why You Need It and How to Install It on Windows You either need to install or update it. But do you know what the .NET Framework is? We show you why you need it and how you can get the latest version. Read More .

2. Windows Registry

If you’d rather not use a third party tool, you can manually scan for product keys in the Windows registry. Press Windows key + R to launch the Run menu, type in cmd, and hit ENTER. Now search the registry for the software in question and keep hitting F3 until the serial numbers shows up in the data column.

Alternatively, if you’re only looking for your Windows product key, you can let a script do the hard work for you. Open Notepad, paste the following bit of code, and save the file as productkey.vbs (the file extension VBS instead of TXT is crucial).

Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))
Function ConvertToKey(Key)
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
Do
Cur = 0
x = 14
Do
Cur = Cur * 256
Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \ 24) And 255
Cur = Cur Mod 24
x = x -1
Loop While x >= 0
i = i -1
KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i -1) Then
i = i -1
KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
End If
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
End Function

When you double-click this file, the VB script will reveal your Windows product key.

This is just one of many Notepad tricks you should try 8 Surprising Windows Notepad Tricks You Must Know 8 Surprising Windows Notepad Tricks You Must Know The inconspicuous Windows Notepad is full of surprises. You'll want to keep this ancient Windows program handy at all times after we showed you some of the tricks it can do. Read More .

3. Outside Windows

Maybe you no longer have access to your system, meaning you can’t use any of the solutions above. In that case, your last resort are physical objects or electronic records of the software you bought. Check whether you have one of the following:

  • Storage media: Serial numbers are often printed onto the storage disc or product box the software came with. You might find your Windows product key on a sticker attached to your computer. On newer systems, however, the product key is embedded in the UEFI BIOS.
  • Order confirmation: Maybe you downloaded the software and thus don’t have any physical media. If you bought it, however, you should have some kind of paper or email record. If you’re lucky, this also contains the serial number.
  • Online account: If you have an online account for the program in question, you might find the product key right there. This is the case for Adobe products.

If you found an old receipt or a credit card record, but not the serial number, don’t despair! In that case, contact the manufacturer, explain your situation, and ask whether they can re-issue the serial number and what they need from you to do so. In the worst case, they might only be able to offer you a discount; ask for that too!

Serial Recovery

Losing the serial number to an important piece of software is no fun. Hopefully, you were able to recover all your product keys with these tips. To protect yourself from losing them again, print them out or store them safely in a password manager How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe Passwords that are hard to crack are also hard to remember. Want to be safe? You need a password manager. Here's how they work and how they keep you safe. Read More like LastPass.

Can you recommend other locations to look for product keys or serial numbers in Windows? Where did you find yours? Please share with us in the comments!

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  1. Rob P
    July 11, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    The software is no longer on the computer but I have the download link and need the product key. How can I identify the product key in a registry backup file I view in Notepad?

    • Matt
      July 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Magical Jellybean can import a non-active registry file to search... not sure if the paid upgrade (which covers a lot more) also has that capability

  2. YM
    January 26, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Magical Jelly Bean Finder came with a virus when I installed it :(

    • Tina Sieber
      January 26, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Are you sure it's not a false positive as mentioned in the article above? What was the virus it came with? Did you OK any third-party tools that came pre-packaged with the installer?

      • YM
        January 27, 2017 at 5:29 am

        It was a while back so I don't remember...but I think it gave me the info I needed. Just added some adware or something - which I picked up with a scan (not seeing the actual infection on my PC).

        • Tina Sieber
          January 27, 2017 at 10:49 am

          Yeah, it was probably something packaged with the installer. I try to download directly from the manufacturer to avoid third-party installers and adware, but it's not always possible. I recommend Unchecky to automatically skip bundled bloatware.

  3. Manny
    January 25, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I get ann err msg when I run the vbs script: WINDOWS SCRIPT HOST.....ERROR INVALID CHARACTER. LINE: 7 CHARACTER 9...."

    • Tina Sieber
      January 26, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Do try the code again now, Manny. Although I wrapped it in code tags, WordPress did something to it that ruined it.

      I fixed it in the text and this one should work too:

      Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
      MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))
      Function ConvertToKey(Key)
      Const KeyOffset = 52
      i = 28
      Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
      Do
      Cur = 0
      x = 14
      Do
      Cur = Cur * 256
      Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
      Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \ 24) And 255
      Cur = Cur Mod 24
      x = x -1
      Loop While x >= 0
      i = i -1
      KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
      If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i -1) Then
      i = i -1
      KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
      End If
      Loop While i >= 0
      ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
      End Function

  4. Sascha
    January 23, 2017 at 2:12 am

    I usually used KeyFinder Plus and Belarc Advisor.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for sharing, Sascha. KeyFinder Plus appears to be shareware, i.e. paid software. Does it come with additional / premium features, compared to the other tools listed above? What makes it worth it to you?

  5. Shadow
    July 19, 2016 at 7:46 am

    To decode the key in the registry, copy the following between the *** to notepad, rename as productkey.vbs, and save to desktop. When you double click it, it pops up with the key, translated from your registry :)

    ***
    Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
    MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))

    Function ConvertToKey(Key)
    Const KeyOffset = 52
    i = 28
    Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
    Do
    Cur = 0
    x = 14
    Do
    Cur = Cur * 256
    Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
    Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \ 24) And 255
    Cur = Cur Mod 24
    x = x -1
    Loop While x >= 0
    i = i -1
    KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
    If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i -1) Then
    i = i -1
    KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
    End If
    Loop While i >= 0
    ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
    End Function

    ***

    • Tina Sieber
      July 19, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you for sharing this trick!

      Unfortunately, this didn't work right away. I got an "invalid character" error in line 1, char 29. Curly quotes seem to break the code. Fixed it, got another error for a dash in line 20 char 10, fixed that too, tried again, and it worked.

      I took the liberty to edit your comment and fix your code above.

      On Windows 10, if you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1 using digital entitlement, it will only show the generic product key. Check out this article on how to find your original Windows 7 / 8.1 product key: Everything You Should Know About Windows Product Keys

      • Tina Sieber
        July 19, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        Turns out our comment formatting might be to blame. Anyway, it's fixed. :)

        • Shadow
          July 20, 2016 at 2:59 am

          My bad, yeah the formatting is a bit buggy, plus one of my friends said it doesn't work on his win10 laptop, but it does on his win10 desktop :/ But I found it very helpful, and no software required :)

        • Tina Sieber
          July 20, 2016 at 3:06 am

          It worked on my Windows 10 laptop (Insider Preview), but it only gives you the generic key.

    • Shadow
      July 23, 2016 at 10:38 am

      I didn't post it to activate it without your key - it's how to FIND your key when it's embedded in Windows. I had to find it like this when I reinstalled Windows 7 after a nasty virus took it out, otherwise it wouldn't have activated. Since it was the same key on the same computer, it was fine. It also works if your old computer has bugged out, you've wiped it, and/or are installing the same OS on another computer - because then it's only on one computer - JUST like their T&Cs state it must be :)