Reinstalled Windows 7 and discovered that it isn’t registered all of a sudden? Or, your Windows 7 feels sluggish, and you plan to start anew, but don’t know where to find the product key? While the first situation sounds lost already, there’s no need to panic regardless of your circumstances. We’ll comfort you – there are multiple ways to restore Windows 7 product key. That applies even if the PC is no longer working. Furthermore, once found, you can most likely upgrade to Windows 10 for free, using the product license. With your hopes raised, let’s get straight into how to recover Windows 7 product key.
How to recognize a Windows 7 key?
Just like Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, Windows 7 product license consists of 25 characters (letters and numbers) split into 5 groups of 5 characters. It looks like this: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.
Here is a photo showing a typical Windows 7 product key on a laptop –
Way 1. Check places it could be displayed
Here are a few places you might find Windows 7 product key displayed:
- A sticker on your PC case. Very common with OEM (HP, Dell) and prebuilt computers. Look it over, and if you can’t see the sticker, open the side panel. A label might have been hidden inside to prevent people from stealing it.
- A DVD you used to install it in the past. If years have passed, there’s a chance you installed Windows 7 using a DVD reader. For that reason, look for a slip of paper, sticker, business card, or Certificate of authenticity in the box it arrived in. The key might be laser-printed on the DVD itself, too.
- Microsoft order history. If you bought the key from Microsoft’s website, look through the order history. We listed the steps required under method 1 in our Windows 10 product key recovery guide.
Way 2. Use third-party software to recover Windows 7 product key
If you don’t like messing with Command Prompt, Windows PowerShell, or Registry Editor, you can install various software dedicated to restoring keys. Additionally, if none of the methods below can find the key, the third-party software becomes your last resort. We listed a few well-equipped software under the headline Try third-party tools in the Windows 10 guide above. We’ll quickly demonstrate two of those since they have separate but useful features.
Using Nirsoft ProduKey
The best thing about Nirsoft ProduKey is its portability. It doesn’t require installation and can be used right away. Here’s how to use Nirsoft ProduKey to retrieve Windows 7 product key:
- Download Nirsoft ProduKey by clicking on Download ProduKey (In Zip file).
- Extract the archive and click on ProduKey.exe.
- Highlight the line with Windows 7 [Version] in the Product Name.
- Click on Edit > Copy Product Key.
Using KeyFinder Plus
The advantage of KeyFinder Plus is that it can also search for product keys from remote and non-booting systems. Follow these steps to discover the product key for Windows 7 with KeyFinder Plus.
- Download, install and run KeyFinder Plus.
- Click on Start Recovery.
- Choose From current system.
- Once it is discovered, highlight the key and click on Save To File.
Way 3. Steps to recover Windows 7 product key from Registry
Now we’re getting into ways that don’t require additional software but often scare people away. The reality is, you can’t mess anything up, since it’s only a preview. If you mustered up the courage, this is how to get your Windows 7 product key back with Registry:
- Press Windows key + R on your keyboard.
- In the Run box that appeared, type ‘regedit’ or ‘regedit.exe’ and press Enter.
- In the Windows Registry Editor, select the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE folder under Computer.
- Go to the SOFTWARE folder.
- Open the Microsoft folder.
- Now, press CTRL (Control) + F on your keyboard.
- Type ‘ProductKey’ or ‘ProductID’, put a checkmark in front of Keys, Values, and Data, and click on Find Next.
- Tip. If the search didn’t help, you can paste this into the address bar: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData”
- Look for the ProductID under Name in the larger menu on the right. The Windows 7 product key will be listed under Data.
- Write the key down. Or, right-click > Modify on ProductId and copy-paste the key to a convenient place.
Way 4. Accessing the Windows.old folder for the product key after a clean installation:
Got a clean installation of Windows 7 and need to find your product key? No worries, you can find it by accessing the Windows.old folder. This folder is created during the installation process, so it’s worth a look.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to do it:
- Open File Explorer (click “Start” and choose “Computer” or “File Explorer,” or hit Windows key + E).
- Go to the drive where Windows 7 is installed (usually “Local Disk (C:)”).
- Find the “Windows.old” folder, if not, search on the navigation bar on the top right.
- After you find it, double-click on it.
- Search for files or documents inside Windows.old folder that might contain the product key.
- Look for text files like Word documents or other file types that could hold the key.
- If you find any related files, open them using Notepad or Word.
- Check the content for any mention of the product key.
- If you luckily find it, note down the key or save it securely.
- If it’s not in Windows.old folder, try other methods that are mentioned in the article.
Also, you can search for $Windows.~BT folder, by using the same steps mentioned above for Windows.old folder.
Way 5. Retrieve Windows 7 key using Command Prompt
This will only work if the key is stored in UEFI/BIOS. This also means that if you use the same Windows version to reinstall it, it will be automatically applied. Just to make sure you don’t lose it, here’s how to find Windows 7 product key via Command Prompt:
- Press the Windows key + R keyboard buttons.
- Type ‘cmd’ and press Enter.
- Paste this into the Command Prompt window:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
- Press Enter and you’ll see the product key for Windows 7.
Way 6. Run a VBScript to find your Windows 7 key
This is an easy alternative to looking through Registry. Here’s how Windows 7 product key recovery using VBScript works:
- Create a new text file. We recommend using Notepad to open it.
- Paste the following code into it:
Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
Cur = 0
x = 14
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
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
- Click on File > Save As…
- Select All Files under Save as type:
- Name it anything but make sure it ends in .vbs. For example, fetchkey.vbs.
- Click on Save.
- Run the file and the key will appear in a small pop-up window.
Way 7. Reach out to Microsoft
If none of the methods produced the desired result, contacting Microsoft is always an option. You can get in touch with Microsoft’s customer support representatives via the phone, or using a webchat. For the latter, refer to method 8 in the Windows 10 product key article we brought up a few times.
Way 8. Try a generic product key
If you’re running out of options and feeling a bit adventurous, here’s something you can try. Microsoft actually provides generic product keys specifically for Windows 7 installations. These keys are not tied to any specific computer or license, but they allow you to install and activate Windows 7. While these keys won’t work for long-term usage, they might just give you temporary access to your system; they’re usually applicable for 30–90 days. Give it a try and see if you can get Windows 7 up and running.