Have you ever tried reinstalling Windows software but had no idea what the license keys and serial numbers were? Sure, they were probably on the packaging or in an email, but those might be gone now. Quickly access all your license keys and serial numbers with key finder tools. Then, you’ll have a copy of those important numbers whenever you need them. Here is how you can recover your Windows product keys.
While there is a variety of tools available, there are two that stand out. The first is completely free, and the other is a premium tool but more robust. As a side note, be careful when downloading free product key finder tools, as many contain malware. Test sites and download links using VirusTotal to be safe.
Using Belarc Advisor
A long-time favorite for quickly finding Windows product keys on your computer is Belarc Advisor. I was actually using this tool in the early 2000s, and it’s still actively maintained. As long as you’re only using it for personal use, it’s free. Businesses are required to buy a license.
What’s great about Belarc Advisor is it doesn’t just help you access your license keys and serial numbers. It’ll also give you a detailed overview of your computer specs and what’s installed.
When you download the tool, you’re asked to provide an email address, name, and organization. If you don’t want to provide these details, use a temporary email address – any name you want – and “Personal” for your organization. This takes you directly to the download link.
As soon as you install the program, it asks to analyze your PC, including checking your security definitions.
The analyzing step can take several minutes, so be patient. Your entire system is being analyzed to give you a full overview of your system, including license keys.
When finished, the results pop up in your default browser. The results are also stored as a temporary file on your system.
To the left, you can jump to different sections, including Software Licenses. You’ll also see a full list of installed software.
Print this page or save it to always have your keys available. Save them on a flash drive, external hard drive, or even a secure cloud service.
Whenever you install something new that requires a license key, run Belarc Advisor again for an updated report.
Use Recover Keys
As great as Belarc Advisor is, it doesn’t always find every license key. It works great for Windows software and more popular tools, though. For a deeper scan, try Recover Keys. A free trial only shows you the first four digits of product keys, but will let you know whether a key was found for the software you need. The program is $29.95 for a single license. That’s much cheaper than buying a new license for expensive software or Windows OS.
While it doesn’t give you an overview of your entire system, it does a great job of scanning for thousands of possible programs that might have a product key attached.
Once installed, choose what you want to scan.
For most users, Scan local computer works best. The scan takes just a minute or two to complete. Then you’re given a full list of product keys. As you can tell, the demo version, or free trial, just shows the beginning of the key.
You can even save keys to the Product Key Database within the program. However, it may be best to save a copy to an external source. After all, if your system gets corrupted, you can’t access the database. Above the results, you’ll find options for printing and saving your results.
If you upgraded from an earlier version of Windows, your product key will be “YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7.” This is a generic key assigned to all upgraded systems. It’s tied to your motherboard, so moving it to a new system is almost impossible. If you have a full retail copy of Windows 10, though, you should be able to transfer it just fine.
Microsoft Office 2013/2016
While these programs still use product keys, they are not fully stored in your registry. You will only be able to see the last five digits with keyfinder software. The rest of the key is pretty much unfindable unless you have it saved somewhere. If you didn’t save the key, you’ll have to call Microsoft Support to get things sorted out.
Some Microsoft products, especially those sold in bulk to companies, are activated using a “volume license,” which means none of the individual copies have their own unique license. If you can’t find a key, or it shows up as “BBBB,” you probably have a volume license and won’t be able to get the key without contacting Microsoft.
You never know when you may need these important numbers. Before it’s too late, use one of the above tools to create a file to help you quickly access your license keys and serial numbers. The best solution is still to create a recovery drive so that you have a backup in case your PC crashes.