How Do I Get the Product Key for Windows XP Professional?
Getting Your Product Key
- The simplest way to find your Windows product key is to read it from the Certificate of Authenticity label, which is located on the bottom of your laptop or on one of the sides or the back of a tower computer. This label will be colorful and should be easy to locate. If you purchased and installed a retail copy of Windows, the product key may have been left in the case with the Windows installation disc, so be sure to check for it there.
If Your Product Key Sticker is Damaged
- If the Certificate of Authenticity is missing or illegible, it might seem that you are out of luck. Fortunately, Windows keeps a record of its product key in its registry, and although the key is encrypted in all versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 (a fact that keeps you from simply navigating the registry to find it on your own), there is a simple, easy-to-use piece of software you can download called Magical Jelly Bean (see "Resources" for a link) that will retrieve the product keys for Windows as well as Microsoft Word, Excel and others.
Once you have the software, retrieving your key is as simple as running the keyfinder.exe file that is contained in the downloaded folder and reading your software key off the right half of the window that appears.
If Windows is Not Working and the Certificate of Authenticity is Missing
- If Windows is installed but not working, you still may be able to retrieve your product key; however, the process can be much more complex and requires a good degree of technical proficiency if you do not already have a second working version of Windows installed on the computer from which you are trying to get the product key.
Transfer the hard drive that contains the unbootable version of Windows to another Windows-based computer and run the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder through the working installation. (If using Vista or Windows 7, you may need to right-click on the keyfinder program and "Run as Administrator.") Once you do, click "Tools," then "Load Hive." A window will appear asking you to locate the Windows directory. Double-click on the drive that houses Windows and click on the Windows folder. Click "OK."