If you are trying to install or activate Office, in many cases you will need a Microsoft Office product key. But where do you find it? And what if you lost the code? We answer that in this article.
When installing or activating Microsoft Office 365, Office 2019 or older versions, such as Office 2016 and Office 2013, you may be asked for a product key. You cannot activate the software without this code. It is a 25 character alphanumeric code in five blocks of five characters separated by a hyphen.
Where is the product code?
The way you can find the product key depends on how you obtained Office. If Office was already preinstalled on your computer, the code will be included in your computer's packaging.
It is also possible that the code is on the receipt. However, this is more often the case if you have purchased the software separately. If you purchased Office as a separate software package, you can find the product key on the back of the card in the package. If you purchased Office through an online store, you may have received the product key by email. This is usually stated on the digital invoice.
Microsoft states that the product key in Office itself is not accessible for 'security reasons'. Fortunately, there are tools to find out the product key. Think Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. However, it is a cat-and-mouse game between the developers and Microsoft, who like to try to prevent people from finding out the product key on their PC.
Once Office has been activated and then linked to your Microsoft account, you no longer need the product key because you can activate the software by logging in with your Microsoft account. Still, it's useful to keep the product key just in case.
If you do not link the product key to your Microsoft account, you must keep the product key safe because you will need it when you reinstall Office.
If you bought multiple copies of Office and used the same install button to install Office on multiple PCs, you won't be able to activate the program on other PCs. You can only use the product key for one computer. However, you can change the product key for other PCs to resolve this issue. Here you can read how that works.
Lost product code?
In the unlikely event that you have lost the product key and have never linked it to your Microsoft account, you can request a new code through Microsoft support, provided you have a valid proof of purchase.