For most people, Windows 10 was either a free upgrade or it came on your new PC or laptop. If you’re ever asked for a product key – during a clean install for example – here’s what to do in order to find it.
We’ll show you how to extract your key and the steps to take before upgrading your PC components. Find out How to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10.
How to find Windows 10 product key
If you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, Windows 10 will have activated automatically after connecting to Microsoft’s servers online. You didn’t need to enter a product key as you were entitled to Windows 10 by virtue of having a genuine consumer copy of Windows 7 or 8.
However, there are a few instances where you’ll need your product key. If you’ve upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 and plan to upgrade your PC components, thus wiping your hard drive, you’ll need your Windows 10 product key.
If you’re installing a new system all together, then you’ll also need your Windows 10 product key.
Both the above scenarios involve a fresh install of Windows, and despite Microsoft adding the Activation Troubleshooter tool in the Anniversary Update (find it in Settings > Update & Security > Activation), you might be stuck between a rock and a hard place if you haven’t already extracted your Windows 10 key.
How can I extract my Windows 10 product key?
If you bought a PC, laptop or tablet running Windows 10 then it should have a sticker or Certificate of Authenticity which contains the product key, or be included somewhere with the packaging or documentation that came with it.
However, this isn’t always the case. One reader told us that, according to HP, it does not put product key on laptops or PCs for security reasons. As with the digital entitlement (now called a Digital Licence), the product key is stored “somewhere in the computer” and will activate automatically if needed. This will work even if the hard drive fails.
He said that the product key was semi-visible on the System screen in Windows: most is redacted with only the last 5 of the digits shown.
If you’ve purchased a boxed copy of Windows 10, it will be on a label in the box. If you bought a digital copy of Windows 10 online from Microsoft, you should have received the product key in an email.
If however you’ve not got any of the above, you can always extract your Windows 10 product key using ProduKey, which is free software that displays your product key on various software installed on your machine.