Before we answer your question on “How to find my Windows 10 product key?” it is crucial to know why you would want to find it.
Consider the scenario where you’ve made a significant hardware change (such as a motherboard or hard disk replacement) to your computer and lost your original Windows installation.
Also, you may have had to wipe your hard drive due to an unforeseen issue, and now you must perform a clean install of an operating system.
Or maybe you’ve just bought an entirely new PC.
However, you don’t want to pay for a Windows 10 product again.
Windows 10 product key (or Windows 11 product key or any Windows product key) is the key to your operating system. The product key can get you in any time you want to activate Windows.
Therefore, having your product key (or product keys) handy at all times is a great practice.
Don’t share your Windows key with anyone unless you legally want to pass on your product license key.
Like Microsoft Office, Windows product is an intangible asset. Holding a license or digital license (or license key or Windows key or Windows product key) is proof of ownership.
It is quite literally the key to the activation of your product. In this article, you’ll learn how to retrieve your Windows product key using several different methods.
However, before knowing your Windows 10 product key, it is imperative to understand why you need the product key.
For this and a lot more, let’s take a trip down this article.
Table of Contents
- How to find my Windows 10 product key
- Why you need your Windows 10 product key
- How to find your Windows 10 product key
- Finding the Windows 10 product key using Command Prompt
- Finding your Windows 10 product key using Windows Powershell
- Finding Windows 10 product key using Windows Registry
- Finding Windows 10 product key using a third-party software
- Finding Windows 10 product key using an OEM tag
- Finding Windows 10 product key using a physical Windows 10 product installation media
- Finding Windows 10 product key using a product key email from a retailer
- Wrap up
How to find my Windows 10 product key
Why you need your Windows 10 product key
You may remember the old days when the software wouldn’t install if you didn’t have a code that shipped with its original CD.
Unfortunately, Microsoft products no longer play the game that way – although it used to back in the Windows XP days.
If you own a Windows product through a legitimate purchase, standalone or bundled, you need to have proof.
As your computer goes online (inevitable nowadays), Microsoft will label your Windows PC as Activated or Not Activated.
One can choose to brave it out without activating the Windows product. While that does not stop your Windows product straightaway, that forces some things upon your Windows operating system:
- No promise to provide all product updates (which are necessary to keep your computer protected) – Windows updates won’t protect you round the clock through frequent patches;
- No remote Microsoft support or product assistance (obviously… duh!) – you won’t be able to fix Windows on your own if you’re not very tech-savvy;
- A big Activate Windows watermark on the bottom-right of your Windows 10 product desktop – not a good look if you’re sharing your screen, trying to look professional;
- No customization whatsoever – this is a big bummer! We cannot live without increasing the font size in Windows operating system. My eyes start screaming at the measly default font sizes on small laptop/tablet screens on Windows 10;
- A blot on your conscience – who wants this one, eh?
As we have listed in our preamble, there are countless scenarios where you might end up needing your product key. However, a Windows 10 product key is not the only way to activate Windows.
When you check your Windows activation status by typing “Activation Settings” in the search bar, there can be several outcomes.
For the sake of simplicity, we’re skipping the method to get Windows 10 product activation screen using Control Panel.
Note: Your copy of the Microsoft Windows 10 product might not be activated. So please always make sure you download Windows from Microsoft.com or Microsoft Store so that it does not contain any malicious code.
A Windows installation downloaded from elsewhere cannot be trusted as the product might be infested with malicious code.
Or your Windows product might be activated by one of the below methods:
|S. No.||Activation Message||Activation Method|
|1||Windows is activated||A product key. Typical applications include Windows Server or any other copy of Windows product bought as a physical copy|
|2||Windows is activated with a digital license||A digital Windows license (Microsoft Store/Microsoft account purchase, OEM/laptop bundle, etc.) coupled with a digital copy, such as Windows 10 Home product shipped with a personal laptop|
|3||Windows is activated using your organization’s activation service||A Key Management Server (KMS) that does product activation using volume licenses bought by corporations and universities, etc. Mostly Windows 10 Enterprise product|
Organizational activated Windows will show the following message:
It is always beneficial to make sure that you activate Windows 10. For most users, that means using a genuine Windows product key.
For others, it could mean owning a product license attached to their Microsoft account.
For many users, even the Microsoft account to which the digital license is attached is the property of a corporation. Such corporations buy volumes of a Windows 10 product license in bulk deals.
How to find your Windows 10 product key
Finding the Windows 10 product key using Command Prompt
- To find your Windows 10 product key using this method, launch a Command Prompt terminal in Administrator Mode. Press Windows key + X;
- You might see Powershell instead of Command Prompt in this menu in your Windows 10. Don’t worry;
- You can also launch it by writing “cmd ” in the search bar or the Run app;
- Once you have launched the Command Prompt, type in the below command and press Enter:
“wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey”
- Voila! There’s your product key:
However, this Windows product key comes with a big disclaimer. It is the one stored in your UEFI/BIOS.
When your computer product is prepared by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) such as Dell, Asus, etc. they enter the product key there.
This method to fetch Windows 10 product key shows the product key stored in UEFI/BIOS only. If you changed the Windows 10 product key later (presumably to upgrade your Windows), it will not show here.
Finding your Windows 10 product key using Windows Powershell
This method to fetch the Windows 10 product key has the same limitation as explained in the previous one (at the end).
The key you will get from here will be the Windows 10 product key stored as the UEFI/BIOS marker.
- To fetch the product key for your Windows product, launch Windows Powershell using the Windows Key + X shortcut;
- Alternatively, you can run it by typing the word PowerShell in the search bar beside the Start menu;
- Type in the following command in the PowerShell window and press Enter:
“powershell “(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey””
You will see your Windows 10 product key on the Powershell screen:
Finding Windows 10 product key using Windows Registry
Some methods of finding product keys you’ll find circulating on the internet pertaining to Windows Registry Editor.
However, in our personal experience, those methods of finding product keys are a topic of debate. They return different product key results (when referred to Product ID vs. when referred to Backup Product Key values).
It wouldn’t be wise to rest your faith in them lest you end up with a lost Windows product key. So our advice is not to use them and to move to other methods if the above ones aren’t for you.
Finding Windows 10 product key using a third-party software
Third-party product key finders can very well find your Windows 10 product key. However, tech-savvy users like us do not favor installing unnecessary software when there are alternatives.
This is like letting a plumber or electrician into the inner recesses of your home – you need to when you absolutely must, but you won’t if you can avoid it.
A complex operation such as finding your product key requires giving administrative privileges. Giving it to a third-party product key finder can, at best, bloat your computer and, at worst, infect computers with viruses.
A malicious code might also steal your genuine Windows 10 product key. This can extend to identity theft, where software can steal your Windows digital license and other software licenses.
Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend you to entrust any external party with your Windows 10 product key.
Finding Windows 10 product key using an OEM tag
OEMs such as Dell, HP, or Lenovo might also choose to provide the product key with their product packaging. This might be in the form of a tag on the product itself containing the product key.
We advise you to check such tags on your device to find the product key to your Windows 10.
If you discard product packaging or peel the labels, you might be out of luck finding your product key. It is wise to approach the OEM helpline for the recovery of your Windows 10 key.
This method of finding your product key might overlap with the following way of finding the product key.
If the OEM chooses to ship the Windows 10 product along with its installation media, you can follow the following process.
Finding Windows 10 product key using a physical Windows 10 product installation media
This is the old-school method. Historically, Windows shipped with its product key/license key printed on a tag pasted on the packaging of its installation media.
This used to be in the form of product CD or DVD covers. If yours shipped in one of these or flash storage, you might find the product key there.
If you have misplaced this Windows 10 product key, the chances of recovering your license are minimal.
Finding Windows 10 product key using a product key email from a retailer
Microsoft isn’t the only marketplace you can buy Windows 10 from. If you’ve bought it from Amazon (or some other retailer), you would’ve received the license key through email.
It’s time to do some digging to unearth that digital license key from your mailbox. Finding the product key using this method should enable smooth Windows 10 product activation.
It would be a great idea to archive the email containing your digital license/product key for the future.
There are several ways of fetching your Windows 10 product key. Some may not be so simple, but they are all doable through this easy guide.
This guide focuses on the product key method rather than the license method of activating Windows. We differentiate since product key and license key were considered synonymous in the past.
This guide also covers several nuances and limitations in the methods of fetching the product key. We have also kept you away from the devious ways which might harm your Windows 10 product.
You can extract your license information and your product key using any of the methods given in this guide.
If you use a volume license server (KMS), you only need to retain your server information, and activation happens automatically. If you used your Microsoft account, your account-attached license would be activated.
In any case, as long as you haven’t made some particular mistakes, your Windows 10 product should be safe.
Like your phone’s IMEI, it is best to keep your Windows product key stored digitally, ideally in a cloud.
If you lose your product key, maintaining the activation status of your product can be challenging.
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