Finding your Windows 10 product key is important if you need to reinstall Windows or activate it on another device. While Microsoft has made the activation process easier in recent years, you still need the product key in many situations. Here are several easy methods to find your Windows 10 product key.
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Check Your Purchase Records
If you purchased a retail copy of Windows 10, the product key should be printed on a card inside the box. You may also find it in the email confirmation if you purchased Windows 10 online. Specifically:
- Retail box – The 25-character product key is printed on a card inside the Windows 10 retail box.
- Digital purchase – The product key is listed in the email confirmation you received after purchasing Windows 10 digitally.
- Microsoft account – Sign in to your Microsoft account and view your Order History for the product key.
So before trying any technical methods, check if you have the key written down somewhere from your initial purchase.
Use Software to Retrieve The Key
Several free software utilities can retrieve your Windows 10 product key:
- Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder – This popular utility quickly retrieves your product key.
- NirSoft ProduKey – Another trusted tool that can retrieve many software keys from your system, including Windows.
Run either software, click “Show” on the Windows row, and your key will be displayed. This method works about 95% of the time to show your product key.
Use Command Prompt
You can use the Command Prompt to easily retrieve your Windows 10 product key. Here’s how:
- Open the Start menu and search for “cmd”.
- Right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.
- Type the following command and press Enter:
wmic path softwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
Your 25-character product key will be displayed under “OA3xOriginalProductKey”.
This simple command line method works reliably to show your key in seconds.
Check Registry Manually
Your Windows 10 product key is stored in the Registry, specifically under this location:
You can manually navigate there to find your product key. However, since the key is encrypted, you’ll only see the last 5 characters, not the full key. This method is not ideal, but can provide a clue about your key if needed.
What To Do If You Can’t Find Your Key
If none of these methods allow you to find your Windows 10 product key, don’t panic yet. Here are some options:
- Contact the retailer you purchased from for assistance.
- Use your Microsoft account to reactivate Windows. If you previously logged into the device with a Microsoft account, your digital entitlement may allow automatic reactivation, even without the key.
- Perform a clean reinstall – This will force Windows 10 to reach out to Microsoft’s servers and reactivate your license if possible.
- Call Microsoft Support for additional troubleshooting.
So in summary, finding your Windows 10 product key is straightforward using one of several simple methods outlined above. Checking your purchase record or using a product key finder app are the best options. But even if you exhaust all options, you still have alternatives to reactivate Windows without the key in some cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about finding Windows 10 product keys:
What happens if I don’t have my product key?
If you can’t find your product key, try signing in using the Microsoft account associated with the device’s digital license. Or do a clean reinstall to force reactivation. If that fails, contact Microsoft Support.
What if my PC came preinstalled with Windows 10?
The product key should be embedded in the BIOS. Use one of the key finder methods above to retrieve it. If that doesn’t work, contact the device manufacturer.
Can I reuse a Windows 10 product key?
No, one Windows key can only be used for one device at a time. To reuse a key on new hardware, you must first remove any old associations by contacting Microsoft Support.
What are OEM Keys vs. Retail keys?
OEM keys only work for one device. Retail keys allow transfer between devices after dissociation. So retail keys are better if you might change your hardware often.
Do product keys expire?
No, Windows 10 and 11 product keys do not expire. As long as it is a legitimate key, it will continue allowing Windows activations indefinitely.
Finding your lost Windows 10 product key is easily done through your purchase history or using software tools designed for the purpose. The Command Prompt method also reliably retrieves the key. If you exhaust all options, you can still reactivate Windows without the key in some cases. Just be sure to fully explore the easy methods outlined here before paying for phone support or a new license unnecessarily. With this guide, you now have the knowledge to easily find your Windows 10 key when needed.