Used to activate new installations of Microsoft’s OS, the Windows product key is something you probably don’t think about . . . until you really need it. Whether you’re about to do a clean install of Windows 11 or 10 on your existing PC or you need to move the license to a new computer, you’ll probably need this 25-character, alphanumeric code.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, the best way to get Windows 10 or 11 for free is to reuse a Windows product key you have either on the current computer or another you own and aren’t using anymore (note that “OEM” keys may not let you reuse them on different hardware). But unless you bought a copy of the OS at retail and have it written down somewhere handy, you may not know the code. Fortunately, there are several ways to find your Windows 10 or 11 product key and they’re all easy.
Method 1: Use Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder to Find Windows 10 / 11 Product Keys
One of the easiest — and my favorite — way to find a Windows 10 or 11 product key is by using a free utility called Magical JellyBean KeyFinder. The company behind it makes a paid version that will also give you product keys from your system for tools such as Microsoft Office or Photoshop Elements. However, the base version which grabs your Windows product key is a totally free download. Here’s how to use it.
1. Download Magical JellyBean KeyFinder, the free version.
2. Extract keyfinder.exe from the zip file to a folder on your PC. You can skip the other files in the zip archive.
3. Launch keyfinder.exe.
4. Click Yes if prompted by user account control.
You will a see a list of information about your current install of Windows.
You will also notice there that Magical Jelly Bean describes your installation as either “Installed from ‘Full Packaged Product’ media” or “Installed from ‘OEM’ media.” If your key is marked as coming from OEM media, it may not work if you try to use it to install Windows on a different PC.
Method 2: Use the Command Prompt to Find Windows 10 / 11 Product Keys
You should be able to find your Windows 10 or 11 product key by entering a particular command at the command line. However, in my testing, I found on one PC that this method returned a blank key while the Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder found the same machine’s key.
To get your Windows product key from the command prompt:
1. Launch the command prompt. The easiest way to get there is to hit Windows + R to open the run dialog box, then type in cmd and hit Enter.
2. Paste or type in the following command and hit Enter.
wmic path softwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
You should see the key on screen below the line that says “OA3XOriginalProductKey.” If not, this method didn’t work but you can try another one.
Method 3: Use the Registry to Find Windows 10 / 11 Product Keys
A copy of your Windows 11 or Windows 10 product key should be located in your registry. You just have to know where to look.
1. Open the registry editor. The easiest way is to get there is to hit Windows key + R to open the run dialog box, enter “regedit” and hit Enter.
2. Click Yes if prompted by User Account Control.
3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform.
4. Open the BackupProductKeyDefault key.
You can copy the Windows 10 or 11 product key from there.