How to Find Your Windows or Office Product Key
Most pieces of commercial software come with some form of protection to deter unauthorized copying and installation. Although software makers use different methods to achieve this goal, one common approach involves asking the user to type in a product key or serial number.
This variable-length string of letters and/or numbers appears to be random gibberish at a glance, but it’s actually a unique identifier that the software decodes to verify that your copy is legal. Typically you have to enter this product key to obtain your authorization during the software’s installation, and many companies also use it to verify your eligibility for product support after installation, so it’s important to know where it is and how to access it.
Here are some easy ways to find your product key for both Windows and Microsoft Office.
Find Your Product Key
Try to remember how you purchased your Microsoft software, which determines where you need to look to find the product key.
If you bought a retail copy of Microsoft Windows or Office, the first place to look is in the disc jewel case. Retail Microsoft product keys are usually on a bright sticker located inside the case with the CD/DVD, or on the back. The key consists of 25 alphanumeric characters, usually split into groups of five.
If your computer came preloaded with Microsoft Windows, the software product key is usually on a multicolored, Microsoft-branded sticker on your PC case. For Microsoft Office, you can find the sticker on the installation disc that accompanied the computer. If all else fails, you will need to contact Microsoft to obtain a replacement key.
Extract Your Key From Microsoft Windows or Office
If you can’t find your key but the software is installed, you can use a program such as the Magical Jelly Bean Key Finder. This utility can quickly locate your Windows key (along with the keys for many other installed programs) and display it for you.
- Download Magical Jelly Bean and follow the installation process to install it on your computer.
- Launch the program. You can find it by opening the Start menu, typing keyfinder, and pressing Enter.
- The program will scan your installations and find the product keys of supported programs, including various versions of Windows and Microsoft Office.
- When the scan is complete, the tool will display a window with entries in the left pane for whatever installed versions of Windows and Office it detected.
- Click the entry for your version of Microsoft Windows to reveal the key and other information about the installation. The key will be listed under 'CD Key' on the right side of the window. Record this information in case you need to reference it in the future. Make sure to record the information exactly, as the key will not work otherwise. Do not confuse this with the 'Product ID' entry, which is unneeded.
- Click the entry for your version of Microsoft Office to reveal the key and other information about that installation. The same advice goes for Office: Your key will be listed under 'CD Key' on the right side of the window. Record this information exactly, as the key will not work otherwise.