A fresh Windows installation feels wonderful. Whether you opt for a convenient Reset or reinstall Windows 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 .
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 [No Longer Available]
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 .
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"))
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
Cur = 0
x = 14
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
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
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 .
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!
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 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!