Software & Apps Windows How to Find the Windows XP Product Key What to do if you need to find your Windows XP CD key Share Pin Email Print Windows The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide 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 January 06, 2020 45 45 people found this article helpful If you're preparing to reinstall Windows XP then you'll need to locate your copy of the Windows XP product key—also known as the CD key. Normally this product key is on a sticker on your computer or located with the manual that came with Windows XP. Logan Faerber / Getty Images If you've lost your hard copy of the product key, don't worry. While it is located in the registry, it's encrypted and not readable, making finding it difficult. Follow the steps below to locate your Windows XP product key: Please read our Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information. How to Find the Windows XP Product Key Finding your Windows XP product key is easy; it usually takes less than 10 minutes. Manually locating the Windows XP product key from the registry is nearly impossible due to the fact that it's encrypted. The manual techniques used to locate the product key for operating systems like Windows 95 and Windows 98 will not work in Windows XP. 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 XP. Any product key finder that locates Windows XP product keys will locate a Windows XP Professional product key as well as a Windows XP Home product key. We used Belarc Advisor. Most product key finder tools in that link above will work just fine with Windows XP, like Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, Winkeyfinder, LicenseCrawler, and ProduKey Download and run the key finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software. Most product key finders are really easy to use. With Belarc Advisor, finding the CD key is as easy as installing and running the program. The results will open in your default web browser, and the product key is found under the Software Licenses section. The numbers and letters displayed by the key finder program represent the Windows XP product key. The product key should be formatted like xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx — five sets of five letters and numbers. Write this product key code down exactly as the program displays it to you for use when reinstalling Windows XP. If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows XP that you attempt with this product key will fail. Be sure to transcribe the key exactly. Most programs that give you a product key will let you export the list of keys, which includes the Windows XP key, to a text file. Others let you copy the text directly out of the program, which is true with Belarc Advisor, for example. What to Do If That Didn't Work If you need to install Windows XP but you still can't find your Windows XP product key, even with an XP 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 XP on Amazon. Requesting a replacement XP 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.