- A product key is required to activate Windows 10 and unlock all its features.
- Microsoft uses a 25-character alphanumeric key to identify the authenticity of a Windows 10 copy.
- With Windows 10, you can find the product key for your copy of the operating system in three ways, as demonstrated in the guide below.
A product key is a sequence of alphanumeric characters used to certify if the copy of a program or software is genuine. For example, Microsoft uses a 25-character alphanumeric key to identify the authenticity of its operating systems.
If you’re using a Windows computer, you’ll probably need the product key for the Windows operating system—you’re trying to install it on your computer at the time of installation to activate it. Talking about Windows 10, you’ll either have a digital license (also called digital entitlement) or a product key, depending on where you got your Windows 10 copy.
In this guide, we’ll show you three different ways to find Windows 10 product key on your computer.
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Understanding Windows 10 License
Windows 10 uses two types of verification methods for OS activation: product key and digital license (also known as digital entitlement).
1. Product Key
If you got your Windows 10 from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), i.e., your computer came pre-installed with Windows 10, or if you purchased its copy from Microsoft, you have what’s called a digital license (sometimes also known as OEM key or OEM license). This kind of license is linked to your device and connected to your Microsoft account. And therefore, its activation mechanism automatically verifies the operating system’s authenticity, so you don’t have to enter the product key manually at the time of activation.
2. Digital License
Suppose you purchased a copy of Windows 10 or bought its digital version from an authorized reseller. In that case, you’ll have a retail license, which needs to be entered during Windows activation to verify the authenticity of your Windows 10 copy and activate it.
Between the two, it’s the latter method of activation that requires you to find the product key for your Windows 10 copy to activate it. And the following section discusses how to retrieve it on your computer.
How to Find Windows 10 Product Key
With Windows 10, you can find the product key for your copy of the operating system in three ways. Of course, this is barring the obvious solutions of finding the product key on the product box (if your reseller sold your copy in one) or checking the key on your Microsoft Account.
Method 1: Find Windows 10 Product Key Using Command Prompt
Command Prompt (or CMD) is probably the easiest way to find the Windows 10 license key on your computer.
For this method, first, launch the Command Prompt as Administrator. You can do this in a few different ways on Windows 10. We feel the easiest way is to bring up Run using Windows+R, type cmd, and hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
With CMD running, enter the following command and hit Enter:
wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
CMD will return your product key directly below your command. You can copy this product key and save it in a note somewhere you can find it easily. And, of course, use it for installing Windows 10 on your computer.
Method 2: Find Windows 10 Product Key Using PowerShell
Like Command Prompt, you can also use PowerShell to find the product key for Windows 10.
Start by launching PowerShell as Administrator. To do this, bring up the Run window using Windows+R, search for powershell, and hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
In the PowerShell window, enter the following command and hit Enter:
powershell “(Get-WmiObject -query ‘select * from SoftwareLicensingService’).OA3xOriginalProductKey”
PowerShell will return your Windows 10 product key. Please note it somewhere on your machine or any of the cloud services so you can access it when required.
Method 3: Find Windows 10 Product Key Using Key Finder
If none of the above methods return a product key or throw errors for some reason, or you want to avoid the hassle of running commands in CMD or PowerShell, you can find your Windows 10 license key using a key finder.
ShowKeyPlus is one of the best (and the safest) third-party product key viewers for Windows 10. It’s available in the Microsoft Store, and you can download it from the link below.
Once installed, follow these steps to find your Windows 10 product key using ShowKeyPlus:
1. Launch ShowKeyPlus. Hit the Start menu, search for showkeyplus, and run it as Administrator.
2. Select Home from the left pane, and you’ll see your Windows 10 product key beside Installed Key and OEM Key.
3. Hit Save and select a destination folder to save the key on your computer for later use.
NOTE: OEM Key is the key that your OEM supplied, whereas Installed Key is the key that’s currently in use on your system. Both of them can be the same or different on your system. For instance, if you upgraded from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, your Installed Key would be different than the OEM Key.
Besides, with ShowKeyPlus, you can also check the Windows 10 edition running on your system and even retrieve a product key from a saved backup.
The Last Resort to Retrieve Your Windows 10 Product Key
Using any of the three methods listed above, you should be able to retrieve the Windows 10 product key on your computer easily. However, in the event that you’re still unable to find the key, you can contact your OEM, who’s better positioned to help you find the product key for your Windows 10 copy in such situations. Or, you can contact Microsoft support if you can’t get in touch with the OEM or you built the computer yourself.