Microsoft has made licensing its operating system as comfortable as possible. In the past, you can easily purchase a CD or a DVD of a Windows operating system. Nowadays, most laptops and desktop machines come pre-installed with an operating system.
At some point, you may want to reinstall your Windows 10. A fresh installation always feels clean and enjoyable. At this point, you will need the product key or the serial number. Sometimes, it will be required during upgrades, too.
In such cases, it is easy to find the product key if you purchased the operating system separately. More often than not, you don't have the serial number in hand. It's possible that you lost it as well. Here are five ways to recover your Windows 10 serial number.
Read Also: How to Repair Windows 10?
A lot of people often confused Product ID with the Product key. However, it is important to note that they are different. Your operating system created the product ID upon installation. It is used to identify your operating system's version and other relevant information. Here's how you find the Product ID.
Right-click on Start button.
Then, click System from the menu. Scroll down to the bottom. Under Windows Activation, locate your Product ID.
Product Key ships with your Windows operating system upon manufacturing. It is used to validate your installation. Imagine it as your unique password for your legitimate copy of Windows 10.
The Product ID is an essential piece of information during technical troubleshooting. However, what you need is the product key which is also known as a serial number. Below are some steps to recover your serial number.
A fast way to recover your serial number is through the Command Prompt. Search Command Prompt then right-click. Choose Run as Administrator.
Then type wmic bios get serialnumber. After the label SerialNumber, you'll find your Windows 10 serial number.
The location of the serial number is typically in your operating system's registry. Having mentioned that, it is unreadable in its binary form. Consequently, you can view the serial number using a script.
Open Notepad by clicking on the Start menu. Notepad is typically one of the applications shown in the Start menu.
Paste the following script in the new note:
Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows NT\\CurrentVersion\\DigitalProductId"))
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
Cur = 0
x = 14
Cur = Cur * 256
Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \\ 24) And 255
Cur = Cur Mod 24
x = x -1
Loop While x >= 0
i = i -1
KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i -1) Then
i = i -1
KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
Save the note. Make sure the All Files are chosen in the Save as type menu. Save as productkey.vbs. Put the file somewhere you can find easily.
Double-click on the resulting VBS file.
Then, a window will appear with your serial number.
There are third-party applications available in case you are not comfortable using the Command Prompt or creating a script. Just like the script above, applications can grab the binary serial number from the Windows registry. It can then present you with the alphanumeric serial number.
ProduKey is a fantastic program to retrieve serial numbers. It is uncomplicated and straightforward to use. ProduKey is lightweight as well.
It works as a portable application. That means there are no installations needed. The app immediately detects serial numbers of installed Microsoft products. You can easily copy the product ID into the program. Additionally, you can export the information in an HTML file.
LicenseCrawler is a feature-rich product key finder. It is a portable application just like ProduKey. You don't have to install anything, and it works right out of the box.
It scans products keys of applications beyond the operating system. LicenseCrawler also shows additional information aside from the product key. It may look a little crowded, but you can identify the serial numbers easily. You can also export it to a text file.
The tools and steps above are meant to help you recover the serial number on your computer. However, the serial number can be found elsewhere, too. And, it may be hiding in plain sight.
There is a reason why you should never throw away any physical media. Most people nowadays see CDs, DVDs, etc., things of the past. However, the information on these packages is still relevant. It is always essential mainly if you bought your Window 10 from brick and mortar shops.
The software distributor prints the serial number on the packaging or the product box. You may find a sticker or a label with the product key on it. Take a photo of the product key and the other information if you are not keen on storing the box or disc. Store it on your phone or your private cloud drive with the proper label and description.
It is more common nowadays to purchase a license for Windows from online distributors. Microsoft also offers its operating systems and other products on its online shop.
The confirmation email typically contains the serial number. However, operating systems bought directly from Microsoft's online store does not have product keys. Digital licensing activates your operating system without the need for a serial number. You can check their support site for more information about the digital license.
Most computers come pre-installed with Windows 10. Typically, there will be labels or stickers with information about your operating system at the bottom of your machine.
Flip your laptop and check if you have one at the bottom. You can find some information inside the battery compartment as well. For desktop computers, labels are often located on the side or at the base of the CPU tower. Take a photo and save it somewhere safe.
Make sure that what you are looking at is a Microsoft product key or serial number. Your laptop or desktop has its serial number, maybe in a different format.
You should take note of your serial number upon purchasing any licensed application. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. You will need the serial number when you want to reinstall your operating system, transfer to a new machine, or upgrade to a new version.
Consequently, Microsoft is taking steps to make activation a lot easier through digital license. However, it is still a good idea to have your serial number in hand.
Allan Jay is a web developer who loves to read and watch tech reviews, especially cutting-edge technologies. He likes exploring and taking photos of the places he visited.