A missing activation code will mess up your chances of reinstalling Microsoft Office, but there are ways to extract this important information in Windows
If your device is not one of the few that comes with Microsoft Office pre-installed, it is very likely that you will get a product key when purchasing software.
This important information is needed when installing it on your machine, and means you can install it at any time if something goes wrong. Some versions of Microsoft Office can even be installed on more than one device.
But what if the worst happens and you lose your product key? Does that mean you can’t reinstall office again?
Fortunately, everything is not lost. Here’s how to get your Office product key through Windows.
How do I find my Office product key?
If you are a bit of a technician, you might think of finding a product key by searching through the Windows Registry. But this is not possible because the code is encrypted. Luckily, there are lots of apps that will do all the hard work for you.
Our favorite is ProduKey, a free application that will investigate the Registry for fishing and decrypting your Office product key, for versions older than Office 2013.
Once downloaded, run it and will immediately display the product key from every Microsoft Office software until (but not included) 2013, as well as operating system keys such as Windows Vista, 7 and 8. Then you can copy the key for future use, or export it to HTML file and save it for future reference.
Although you might be interested in finding only your Office product key, Recover Keys supports more than 9000 apps, can scan Windows and Mac computers remotely, recover license keys from external storage, scan multiple Windows installations, and can even run from a USB drive. And for £ 24.95 / $ 29.95, it’s cheaper than buying another copy of Office.
How can I find the Office 2013, 2016 or 2019 product key?
If Office was pre-installed when you bought a PC or laptop, you might find a sticker on the machine itself with the code. But we assume you’ve searched all the obvious places before turning to the web and finding this article.
Whether Office has been installed or not, here’s the bad news: Microsoft changed the way the product key is stored, so starting with Microsoft Office 2013, only the last five digits of the 25 character code are stored in the Registry for Office 2013, 2016 and 2019.
What this means is – like all Windows 10 product keys – any code displayed by your keyfinder application will not work. If the first 20 digits are displayed at all for Office products, they will become public.
However, the useful part is that the last five digits must be correct for your license which means you can search your computer’s email and hard drive to see if you find an email or a matching file that contains a complete product key.
If this fails, your remaining option is to do a full factory reset on your computer (but only if there is a recovery partition that includes all the original software that came with it) or to buy a new copy of Office.
However, if you are not aware, there are some excellent free office suites that function like the Microsoft version and can save in the same format, which means the files you create with them can be opened and edited by others using Microsoft Office.