If you have a PC pre-installed with windows 10 or upgraded the windows 8.1 or windows 7 to Windows 10. In either case, you cannot find Windows 10 product key easily. Now manufacturers does not show Windows product key on sticker in back of computer or in certificate of authenticity. Product key gets stored somewhere in hardware or embedded in BIOS or EFI, so it not gets available to read in human form. But still you can fetch Windows 10 product key through Command Prompt, PowerShell or third party software.
Windows activation is the process of checking if Windows in your machine is genuine and same is not installed in more than one machine. Windows activation can be done via two ways. Depend on your copy of Windows,it will be activated via Digital licence or Product key. If Digital licence is attached to your copy of Windows, you don’t need to enter any product key for activation. Windows uses Digital licence for activation if you are upgrading to windows 10 for free from pre-installed genuine copy of Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 in your device. Also if you are buying genuine copy of Windows 10 or Windows 10 prod upgrade and activated windows 10 successfully then Next time on reinstalling, Digital licence will be used to activate Windows 10. Also Read How to Skip login screen in Windows 10.
Ways to Find Windows 10 Product Key
You may have lost the product key of Windows 10. Although you don’t need the product key to activate Windows 10 while reinstalling on same machine. But for being in safe side it’s best to write down Windows 10 key before re-installation. If you are migrating Windows 10 to other device, you may need product key for activation(In case you din’t link your Microsoft account to digital licence). With following ways you can easily retrieve saved product key in firmware or BIOS of your PC.
Retrieve Windows 10 Product Key using Command Prompt
- Press Windows+R in keyboard then enter “cmd” or type “cmd” in search box next to Start. Click on “OK” on Run Window or click on “Command prompt” in search result to open it.
- In command prompt, type ”
wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey” without quotes, then hit Enter.
- It will show Product key for Windows 10.
Retrieve Windows 10 Product key through PowerShell
- Type PowerShell, in search box next to start button.
- It will show “Windows PowerShell” in Search result list. Right click on “Windows PowerShell” from search result, and click on run as Administrator.
- If it asks “Do you want to allow app to make changes to your Device”, then click on “Yes” button to accept.
- In PowerShell type command
powershell "(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey"
- Hit Enter. It will show Windows key.
Retrieve Windows 10 Product Key using third party software
There are many third party software that helps to retrieve stored product key from Windows. Some of the free software are as below.
- Download ProdKey and then unzip it.
- Double click Produkey application in unzipped folder.
- In next windows it shows all extracted keys related to Microsoft accounts.
NeoSmart’s Oem Product Key Tool
Download “Windows OEM product key tool“. While downloading you don’t need to enter name or email. Just hit on Download button. Double click the downloaded exe, give permission. It will show Windows key.
How Windows 10 Activation Works
Windows Activation if Installing Windows 10 for First Time
If you are installing windows 10 for first time you will need the valid product key for Windows 10. Find it on label inside Windows 10 box, or confirmation email, or on certificate of authenticity.
Activation if Reinstalling Windows 10 on same machine without hardware changes
Windows 10 activation on reinstalling depends on how it was originally installed for first time in your device.
If you upgraded your PC to windows 10, and want to reinstall windows 10 on same machine due to some issues, virus, or windows 10 stopped booting. Then, you will not need any key while reinstalling Windows 10. If you dint’ changed hardware of your PC, then Windows 10 will automatically be activated by digital licence. While reinstalling, when it asks for Product key, just select I don’t have key. Later, it will activate Windows 10 automatically.
Activation if Reinstalling Windows 10 after Hardware changes
If there is a significant change in hardware or you are migrating Windows 10 to other PC, then it will not activate Windows 10 automatically. It will give error. To avoid this, before changing hardware, its best link your Microsoft account to your Windows 10 digital license. Previously if you linked your Microsoft account to Windows 10 before changing the hardware, then after hardware change while reinstalling follow these steps to activate Windows 10.
- In your Windows 10 installed PC, With your administrative account, Go to Settings>Update and Security>Activation.
- Next, click on Troubleshoot. This option will show only if Windows 10(for version 1607 or later) is not activated in your device.
- In Troubleshooter window, select “I changed hardware on this device recently” and then Click on next.
- In next screen, login to your Microsoft account.
- Next select device you using from list and check the box next to “This is the device I’m using right now”.
- Next select “Activate”.