Microsoft Office 2021 is a collection of powerful tools. It can be used to help with writing, editing, and analyzing data. It also includes features for collaboration and teamwork.
It requires a unique code to activate. This code is a one-time purchase and cannot be reused. Thankfully, there are several ways to find your product key.
Avoiding Pitfalls and Scams
Microsoft Product Keys are 25 character codes that you enter after installing Office software. They’re essential for the initial install, and also later if you want to reinstall it on another computer. Microsoft calls this process ‘Software Activation’. It’s an anti-piracy measure that has been in place for some years and it works reasonably well.
However, this type of licensing isn’t without its pitfalls and scams. Some of these are obvious, but others you might not notice until it’s too late. For example, you might see a deal online for Office 2021 for an extremely low price. This could be a sign that the product key is not genuine.
If the seller accepts payment by credit card and you don’t get a legitimate product code, you can complain to your bank for a refund (aka a chargeback). Some sellers might have stolen a genuine product key or got it illegally. They then sell the license to you for much less than either the wholesale or high-volume license cost.
Having a valid product key is crucial for the full functionality of Microsoft Office 2021 and to protect you against piracy. But Microsoft would rather you buy their Microsoft 365 subscription package with an annual fee that includes updates, chat and phone support as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype minutes per month.
Finding Your Product Key
If you buy your Office software online, or it was shipped with a computer and is attached to the Microsoft account, the product key can be found on the account page. If it was bought through a store, check your email receipt. You also might find it in the order history.
The last five characters of a Windows or Office serial key are stored in the Registry. However, because of the complex nature of the Registry, you must be very careful when modifying it. Serious problems can occur if you edit it incorrectly. To avoid problems, back up the Registry before attempting to change it.
You can use third-party software to recover a lost product key, like Nirsoft’s ProduKey or ShowKeyPlus, and even the free Registry Editor to retrieve the keys you need to activate your Office suite. You can also try a more direct approach by searching through your emails or the folders where you saved pictures, and by checking your PC’s chassis sticker (though this may rub off over time).
Another option is to contact the purchasing source, although that’s unlikely to be very helpful. You can also use the registry to find your key, but this requires some technical expertise and is time-consuming. Each entry in the Registry has a GUID sub key that identifies which installation it is, and clicking on the SuitName key reveals the name of the installed suite. Record this information, and you’ll be able to reinstall it on a new PC in the future.
Recovering Your Product Key
Sometimes you might end up with ultra-cheap Microsoft Office deals that require a special code for activation. These deals are usually a scam but you can avoid them by following the exact instructions for activation and only buy software that has a digital paper trail from verified sellers (not those selling pirated versions).
Once you’ve done this, it will be easy to recover your product key when you need it for future installs. Microsoft stores the last five characters of your product key for you and it is easily available by signing in to your account on their website and clicking your avatar, then selecting “Services and subscriptions” from the list.
You can also use Windows PowerShell or the elevated Command Prompt to find your product key and the last five letters of it. However, this method can be tricky and may require searching through all your email accounts and possibly digging through the junk folder.
Another option is to use a program like ProduKey. This tool scans your system and displays the product keys for all installed software on it. It even supports Windows 10 and earlier versions. You can save the list to a file and keep it safe. ProduKey also reveals the product name that was used to register the license. This is a very useful tool for software developers and security researchers who need to find out what version of a product is installed on a target computer.
Using Your Product Key
Generally, when you install Office programs that require a product key, the system checks with Microsoft to see if the key is valid. If it is, the software will activate. Afterward, you can use the program normally. If the key is not valid, the software will not activate and may run in a trial mode.
A product key is a 25-character code that is unique. It is necessary for the installation and activation of most Microsoft programs. However, the code can also be used for reinstallation on other computers if the software has licenses that allow it. It is important to keep a record of the product key so that it can be redeemed later, if needed.
Most legitimate Microsoft products come with a product key in the box or on a card. However, some dishonest sellers offer stolen or abused Microsoft product keys for sale. These product keys are sometimes printed on counterfeit labels or cards and often distributed with unauthorized software media, such as promotional media or original equipment manufacturer reinstallation media.
If you have purchased a Microsoft product with a key, check your email for a confirmation from the seller. Look through all of your emails, including junk folders. If you do not find the email, contact the seller to ask about a refund.