Common sense and software companies advise users to save their product keys securely in case they need them in the future, such as when re-installing your operating system. After all, you don’t want to reformat your hard drive and reinstall Windows only to find out that you don’t know what your Windows product key is. Unfortunately, that ever-so-important key can sometimes be misplaced or lost. In many cases though, keys can be recovered in Windows—no need to rummage through purchase e-mails or disk cases.
We offer two approaches for you to recover your Windows product key: searching through the Registry Editor or with a third party program. However, please note that both methods will require administrator rights to your Windows machine.
Windows 7 & Windows 8
- Search and open Regedit via the Search function in Windows 7 or 8.
- In the left pane of the Registry Editor, navigate to the following directory:
Windows 7 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Win7 Windows 8 HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Win8
- Right-click on the entry named ProductId and select Modify.
- The product key will be displayed in a new window.
Third Party Program
You can also retrieve your Windows product key via a third party program such as NirSoft ProduKey, which scans your Windows registry file for the product keys of other software. Install and run ProduKey to view a list of product keys stored in your registry file. However, it cannot find product keys for all programs. Most notably, Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365 do not store their product keys in the registry file.
Office 2010 & Office 2013
Office 2010 and Office 2013 do not store their product keys in an easily accessible location in the registry file and many third party programs cannot scan for them. However, you can use a script to find the last five digits of the product key.
- Open the Command Prompt by searching for “cmd” in Windows.
- In the command prompt, type or paste in the following:
Windows (32-bit) Office 2010 (32-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus Office 2013 (32-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus Windows (64-bit) Office 2010 (32-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus Office 2010 (64-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus Office 2013 (32-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus Office 2013 (64-bit) cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus
*Please note that if Office is not installed on your C: drive, you will need to update the drive letter in the above script appropriately.
- Once you have the last five digits, you can then back track the full key using the last five digits by contacting Microsoft.
Losing a product key does not mean you have to purchase the product again, as most of the time you can recover it by scanning through the registry file.
Have you ever lost a product key and needed to recover it?