Software & Apps Windows 75 75 people found this article helpful Find Serial Keys and Installation Codes for Software In most cases, key-finder software reports installed license keys by Tim Fisher General Manager, VP, Lifewire.com Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tim Fisher Updated on March 18, 2020 reviewed by Jessica Kormos Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Jessica Kormos is a writer and editor with 15 years' experience writing articles, copy, and UX content for Tecca.com, Rosenfeld Media, and many others. our review board Article reviewed on Jul 29, 2020 Jessica Kormos Windows The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Tweet Share Email Serial keys or key codes are often required during the first part of a program's installation or sometimes after using a program for a certain period of time. So what do you do when you can't find that special installation code but you need to install the program again? Where Can I Find Serial Keys and Installation Codes for My Software? William Andrew / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images Without a doubt, a key finder program—a special kind of software tool — is the best way to go if you've lost a serial key for one of your software programs, so long as it's still installed or recently was. Product key-finder programs search your computer for the serial keys stored in the Windows Registry or elsewhere on your computer. For example, when you installed your operating system and other software, the product keys used during their installations were stored, probably encrypted, inside a specific registry key. See our article on free product key finder software programs for a ranked and reviewed collection of these very handy tools, all of which are free to download, install, and use. Most product key finder programs were originally designed to find the serial numbers and key codes for operating systems like Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, etc., but many of them find serials and keys for many other programs, too, like office suites, video games, and more. What If the Program I'm Missing the Serial Key for Isn't Installed Anymore? Even if you think, or know, the program you've lost the key for isn't installed on your computer anymore, you should still try one of the higher-rated product key finder tools in our list. Sometimes, a program leave the registry keys that contain that program's serial key in the registry even after it's uninstalled, which is why this step is worth a try. If that doesn't work, you're left with digging around for the box the software came in, the email that accompanied the download, etc. What If I Still Can't Find the Installation Code I'm After? At this point, your only legal option is to buy a new copy of the program. In your search for help with lost serial keys, you've probably come across software cracking tools, keygen programs or maybe even lists of free key codes, there for the taking. None of those resources are legal ways of obtaining installation keys or any other unique code designed to protect programs from being pirated. The only legal way of installing software is by using a valid installation code obtained through a legal purchase of the software program.