Are you looking for a way to retrieve a Windows 10 product key after a fresh installation? Sometimes people buy a physical copy but aren’t sure how to enter the key itself. Or, they accept an update from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but the key is gone in the process. These are all problems that require a slightly different solution. Importantly, we understand why you would want to do this. You can theoretically use an unregistered version of Windows 10 indefinitely, but you’re missing out on a lot of features. For that reason, let’s teach you how to recover Windows 10 product key.
How does the Windows 10 product key look?
It is a 25-character code split into 5 sets of 5 numbers. It has a format like this: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.
1. Check the order history
There are many ways to purchase a product key online. The first and the safest choice is Windows 10 on the Microsoft Store itself. After you make the purchase, the key will be:
- In a confirmation e-mail, you received to your Microsoft account.
- On Microsoft’s website.
- Log in with your account.
- Go to Account
- Go to My orders.
- Check the Order history and Digital content tabs.
- Using a Windows Troubleshooter.
- Open Settings by pressing the Windows key, then clicking on the gear icon.
- Go to Update & Security.
- Go to Activation.
- Click on Troubleshooter.
- Sign in with your Microsoft account if needed.
- Wait for the scan to complete.
- Click on Activate Windows.
- Click on Close.
The steps are similar to any online store, including Amazon or key resellers, which is a risky but significantly cheaper option.
2. Locate Windows 10 product key physically
If you bought a physical copy of Windows 10, the key could be on:
- A printed sheet of paper, small business card, sticker, label, or a Certificate of Authenticity in the packaging the Windows 10 came in
- If you bought a pre-built PC from an authorized seller, you will often get a Windows 10 license for free. It will be printed on a Certificate of Authenticity sticker on the chassis itself, or inside the packaging alongside the user’s manual
- Important: If you bought a PC from an authorized retailer (OEM), and it had a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license printed somewhere, the product key is very likely to work on Windows 10 as well.
3. You might have a digital license
If you have a digital license, sometimes known as a digital entitlement, you don’t need to enter the product key at all. It is automatically generated when you upgrade to Windows 10, for example. To verify, do this:
- Press the Windows key to open Start.
- Start typing ‘activation’.
- Click on the Activation settings option.
- Check two lines, Edition and Activation.
How to enter a Windows 10 product key
If you don’t have a digital license, this is where you add it once you acquire it through the steps below.
- Simply click on the Change product key option below.
- Paste the key or enter it manually.
4. To recover Windows 10 product key from BIOS/UEFI firmware
This applies when you buy a pre-built PC or get a bundle deal that included a license. The product key will be tied to the motherboard and saved in the BIOS/UEFI firmware. If it doesn’t get applied automatically, do this to recover it.
- Either press Windows key + X or press the Windows key, then type ‘cmd’.
- Click on Command Prompt (Admin).
- If you get a UAC (User Account Control) prompt, click on Yes.
- You will see a flashing line, indicating you can type.
- Paste the following line:
wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
- If the above doesn’t work, try this:
powershell “(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey”
- Press Enter.
- The key will now appear. Paste it using the steps above to activate it.
5. To retrieve Windows 10 product key from Registry
Instead of making your copy from our text, we’ll use the link provided by TechSpot.com for ease-of-use.
- Click here.
- Press Ctrl + S or right-click, then Save as…
- Look for Save as type: then click on Text Document.
- From the drop-down list, click on All Files.
- Look above for File name.
- Change the name from Win10KeyFinder to anything you want.
- Make sure to add .vbs at the end. For example: Win10Key.vbs
- Pick a location and click on Save.
- Find the file and double-click on it.
- If prompted, click Open.
- A pop-up window will appear with the Windows key.
- Click on Yes and it will be saved to a text file.
- Copy the code from the text file, then use it to activate Windows 10.
6. How to acquire a volume license Windows 10 activation key
This only works if your machine is part of a medium or a large business. They often buy Windows keys in bulk to save money. If it isn’t activated from the get-go, try this:
- Visit Microsoft.com.
- Sign in with your Microsoft account.
- Open their Volume Licensing Service Center.
- You should automatically be signed in.
- If you aren’t, click on Sign In.
- Click on Sign in with your work account or Sign in with your Microsoft account.
- Go to the Licenses tab.
- Click on Windows 10.
- You will see a Windows 10 product key.
7. Try third-party tools
We don’t endorse these, and if you followed the steps above, there’s no need for them. However, for those that just want a one-and-done software or aren’t tech-savvy, there is a solution. Simply search for some of these tools:
- Nirsoft ProduKey
- ShowKey Plus
- Windows 10 Product Key Tool
- Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder
8. Contact Microsoft
If everything else fails, you can always contact Microsoft’s customer service representatives. During the times you can’t contact them through the phone, you can use their online agent (webchat).
- Visit Microsoft Support.
- Type ‘windows 10 product key’ in the textbox.
- When self-help solutions appear, scroll to the bottom of the page.
- Find the Get more help headline.
- Click on Talk to an agent.
- Describe the issue and wait for a response.