If you're preparing to reinstall Windows 7 you will need to locate your unique Windows 7 product key - also known as the Windows 7 serial or Windows 7 CD key. Normally this product key is on a sticker on your computer or located with the manual that came with Windows 7.
However, if you've lost your product key, all hope is not lost - your Windows 7 key is stored in the registry but is encrypted and not readable, making finding it difficult. Luckily there are several free programs that can help.
Follow the steps below to locate your Windows 7 product key code:
Important: Please read my Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information.
Time Required: Finding your Windows 7 product key should take less than 15 minutes
Manually locating the Windows 7 product key from the registry is nearly impossible due to the fact that it's encrypted.
Note: The manual techniques used to locate the product key for operating systems like Windows 95 and Windows 98 will not work in Windows 7. Those manual procedures will only locate the product ID number, not the actual product key used for installation. Lucky for us, several free programs exist to help find product keys.
Choose a free product key finder program that supports Windows 7.
Note: Any product key finder that locates Windows 7 product keys will locate the product keys for any version of Windows 7: Ultimate, Enterprise, Professional, Home Premium, Home Basic, and Starter.
Download and run the key finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software.
The numbers and letters displayed by the program represent the Windows 7 product key. The product key should be formatted like xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx - five sets of five letters and numbers.
Write this key code down exactly as the program displays it to you for use when reinstalling Windows 7.
Note: If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows 7 that you attempt with this product key will fail. Be sure to transcribe the key exactly.
- If you need to install Windows 7 but you still can't find your Windows 7 product key, even with a product key finder, you have two choices.
You can either request a replacement product key from Microsoft or you can purchase a brand new copy of Windows 7 from TigerDirect, NewEgg, or some other retailer.
Requesting a replacement Windows 7 product key is going to be cheaper but if that doesn't work out, you may in fact have to buy a new copy of Windows.