If you are planning to reinstall Windows but you can't find your product key, this article will show you where and how you can find your product key.
The key could be:
- Printed on a Certificate of Authenticity sticker
- Stored in the Windows Registry
- Embedded in the PC's UEFI firmware
Note that if you are currently running Windows 10 and wish to reinstall the operating system, you don't need your product key. After the reinstall, Windows 10 will detect that it has been reinstalled on a previously activated system and will automatically reactivate.
Printed on a Certificate of Authenticity Sticker
If your PC came with Windows 7 or earlier, then your product key will be printed on a COA sticker. This sticker verifies that the computer came with a genuine copy of Windows. You will need to examine your computer to find the sticker. On laptops, it's usually on the bottom side. On desktops, it could be on the back, sides, or top. It looks something like this:
Embedded in the PC's UEFI firmware
If you have a newer PC that came with Windows 8 or Windows 10, then your product key likely won't be on a sticker. Instead, computer manufacturers now embed the key right into the computer's UEFI firmware. Unlike the COA sticker, the embedded key can't be smudged off, stolen or erased (easily).
If you want to extract the UEFI key, the process is simple. Open the Start menu, type powershell and then run the program.
Next type the following command in the PowerShell window and hit Enter.
(Get-WmiObject -query 'select * from SoftwareLicensingService').OA3xOriginalProductKey
You will be presented with the key in the window.
Stored in the Windows Registry
If your product key isn't embedded in the firmware or you're missing your COA sticker, you're not out of luck as long as you haven't formatted your computer. You can still recover the key because Windows stores it in the registry. Here is how:
1. Open a new Notepad window
2. Copy and paste the following text into the window
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
3. Click File > Save As and save the file to your desktop as productkey.vbs. It's important to include the .vbs extension because this is a Windows Scripting Host file.
4. Close Notepad and double-click the file. Wait a few seconds, and then you will be presented with a popup displaying your product key: