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Find Windows 10 Product Key on a New Computer
The key you need will be in one of three places:
Stored in software on your PC: When you (or your PC manufacturer) installs Windows, Windows stores its product key in the registry. You can extract this product key, and–often–enter it when reinstalling Windows on your PC. Crucially, you’ll need to grab it from your operating system before you begin reinstalling Windows or it could be deleted if you format your hard drive.
Printed on a sticker: Some PCs use a technology called “System Locked Pre-installation,” or SLP. If your PC uses this, the product key on your PC–the one stored in the registry, and the one key-viewer applications display–will be different from the actual key your PC needs. The actual key is on a certificate of authenticity (COA) sticker on your PC or its power supply. The one in the registry and key-viewer application is a red herring. This system was common for Windows 7 PCs.
Embedded in your PC’s UEFI firmware: Many newer PCs that come with Windows 8 or 10 use a new method. The key for the version of Windows the PC comes with is stored in the computer’s UEFI firmware or BIOS. You don’t even need to know it–assuming you’re installing the same edition of Windows the PC came with, it should automatically activate and work without you needing to enter a key. It’ll all happen automatically.
Be sure to use the same version and edition of Windows the computer came with. In other words, if it came with Windows 7 Home Premium, you can’t install Windows 7 Professional.
The product key for new computers that come preinstalled with Windows 10 has the product key stored within the motherboard firmware. Users can retrieve it by issuing a command from the command prompt.
- Press Windows key + X
- Click Command Prompt (Admin)
- At the command prompt, type:
wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
Use NirSoft’s ProduKey to Recover Product Keys (Even if You Can’t Boot the PC)
The easiest way to get access to your product key is with a third-party utility, and there’s nobody better at those than NirSoft. Their utilities are always crapware-free, and are always really useful. The only issue with this particular utility is that some antivirus will detect it as a false positive, because some malware might try to steal your product key.
Note: the NirSoft keyfinder won’t always work for OEM computers, depending on how they decided to activate the licenses. If your OEM installed your computer and used a single key for all their PCs, this won’t work. It also doesn’t work for Office 2013.
All you have to do is download ProduKey, unzip it, and then run it to immediately see all of your product keys. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to recover a key from a dead computer, you can hook up the hard drive to a working PC, and then run ProduKey and use File > Select Source to point to the external Windows directory. You can then grab the keys from that computer easily.