How to Find Your Windows 7 Product Key

Use free software to extract your Windows 7 key from the Windows Registry

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If you're preparing to reinstall Windows 7 you will need to locate your unique Windows 7 product key, also sometimes called the Windows 7 serial key, activation key, or CD key.

Normally, this product key is on a sticker on your computer or located with the manual or on the disc sleeve that came with Windows 7. However, if you don't have a physical copy of your product key, that doesn't mean it's gone forever.

A copy of your Windows 7 key is stored in the registry. It's encrypted, meaning it's not easily readable, but a special program will extract it for you.

Frustrated person looking at literal keyhole on their computer screen
Lifewire / Derek Abella

Check out our Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information about product keys and how they work in Windows.

The manual techniques used to locate the product key for older versions of Windows won't work in Windows 7. Those manual procedures will only locate the product ID number for Windows 7, not the actual product key used for installation. So if you've done this kind of thing before in Windows XP or Vista, you'll need to instead use the process outlined below.

Follow the steps below to locate your Windows 7 product key code:

How to Find Your Windows 7 Product Key

  1. 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.

  2. Download and run the key-finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software.

  3. The numbers and letters displayed by the program represent the Windows 7 product key.

    The product key should be formatted like this:

    xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

    To be clear, that's five sets of five letters and numbers.

  4. Write this key code down exactly as the program displays it to you. Most keyfinder tools let you export the key to a text file or copy it to the clipboard.

    If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows 7 that you attempt with this product key will fail.

  5. Reinstalling Windows 7 using that product key.

A Few More Options

If you need to install the Windows 7 operating system but you still can't find your Windows 7 product key, even with a product key finder, you have two choices:

The first thing to try would be to request a replacement product key from Microsoft, which should cost you around $10 USD. This doesn't always work out, but it's worth a shot.

If Microsoft doesn't get you anywhere, you're left with purchasing a brand new copy of Windows 7 from NewEgg or some other retailer.