How to Find Your Windows 7 Product Key

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

Picture of a Windows 7 Professional Product Key Sticker
Windows 7 Professional Product Key Sticker. © Microsoft

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.

Fortunately, a copy of your Windows 7 key is stored in the registry. It's encrypted, meaning it's not easily readable, but there are several free programs that can help fix that problem in less than 15 minutes.

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

Important: Please read Lifewire's Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information. Product keys and how they're used in Windows 7 isn't an easy-to-understand topic.

How to Find Your Windows 7 Product Key

  1. Manually locating the Windows 7 product key from the registry is nearly impossible due to the fact that it's encrypted.
    1. Note: 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. Lucky for us, several free programs exist to help find product keys.
  2. Choose a free product key finder program that supports Windows 7.
    1. Note: 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.
  3. Download and run the key finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software.
  4. The numbers and letters displayed by the program represent the Windows 7 product key. The product key should be formatted like this:
    It's five sets of five letters and numbers.
  5. Write this key code down exactly as the program displays it to you for use when reinstalling Windows 7. Most programs let you export the key to a text file or copy it to the clipboard.
    1. Note: If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows 7 that you attempt with this product key will fail. Be sure to transcribe the key exactly!

    Tips & More Information

    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:

    1. Request a replacement product key from Microsoft, which should cost you around $10 USD.
    2. Purchase a brand new copy of Windows 7 from NewEgg, or some other retailer.

    Requesting a replacement Windows 7 product key is going to be cheaper but if that doesn't work out, you may have to buy a new copy of Windows.