How to Change Windows 7 Product Key


On old versions of Windows, replacing a Windows product key required using a special tool, and upgrading from one edition of the system to another required a new installation. On Windows 7, these tasks only take a few steps and won't erase any of your files. If you're switching product keys for the currently installed version of Windows 7 -- such as if you entered the wrong key during setup -- use the "Change Product Key" link in the System Control Panel. To move to a different edition, such as from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate, use the Windows Anytime Upgrade utility.

Product keys help Microsoft combat software piracy.
(Image courtesy of Microsoft)
Step 1

Open the Start menu, right-click "Computer" and choose "Properties" to open the System Control Panel. Alternatively, right-click the "Computer" icon on your desktop, if you have one, and select "Properties."

Open the System Control Panel.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 2

Click "Change Product Key" at the bottom of the window. You might need to scroll down to find the link. If Windows prompts you with a User Account Control warning, press "Continue."

Change the product key.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Type in the new key, found in the packaging of the Windows installation disc or on your receipt if you purchased a license digitally. Press "Next."

Enter a new key.
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Step 4

Wait while Windows activates the new key. If activation fails, make sure your computer is connected to the Internet, retype the key and try again.

Activate the key.
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Step 1

Search for and open "Windows Anytime Upgrade" in the Start menu.

Run Windows Anytime Upgrade.
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Step 2

Click "Enter an Upgrade Key." Alternatively, if you don't own a key yet, choose "Go online..." to buy a new key.

Select whether you already have a key.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Enter your Windows Anytime Upgrade key and press "Next" to upgrade your computer.

Enter the upgrade key.
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use the **Change Product Key** option to to change your key or upgrade to another Windows edition in Windows 8.1, if you've already purchased a key.
  • The steps to change between keys on the same edition of Windows 7 also work to change between two Windows Vista product keys, but not to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7.


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