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How to find your computer's serial number on Windows
If you buy a computer with Windows pre-installed, then you may never need your Windows serial number (otherwise known as a product key.) However, if you have to install a Windows upgrade or reinstall the operating system from factory settings, you will be required to enter a valid serial number to continue. Obviously, this is something you need to look for before wiping the PC. There are a few places you can look to find your computer’s serial number on Windows.
The Windows serial number can be found by using the Command Prompt, the Powershell, and BIOS. You can try finding it by looking for a serial key sticker or contacting the manufacturer. However, if you have Windows 11, it is usually a digital license linked to a specific registered Microsoft account. So it works slightly differently.
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How to find your Windows serial number in Command Prompt, Powershell, or Windows Terminal
Command Prompt, Powershell, and Windows Terminal are more or less the same thing. Powershell is a more advanced version of Command Prompt, and on Windows 11, selecting Windows Terminal will open Powershell.
There are three ways to open a Command Prompt or Powershell window.
- Windows key + R — when the box appears, type cmd and press OK.
- Start typing the name of the Command Prompt or Powershell into the Start menu.
- Right-click the Windows start menu and select Command Prompt, Powershell, or Windows Terminal. The options will vary depending on what Windows version you have.
Once you have your Command Prompt or Powershell window open, type the following:
wmic bios get serialnumber
You should now hopefully see your serial number.
If it is not there, that means the manufacturer has not added it to the BIOS. You should skip ahead in this article to the third section for alternative options.
How to find your Windows serial number in BIOS
Another way to access your serial number is to go through BIOS. To get there, restart your computer, and as it’s booting up, hold down the F11 key. Sometimes, it’s F12, so if one doesn’t work, try again with the other. It varies from model to model.
Other ways to find your Windows serial number
If the Windows serial number is not on Command Prompt or BIOS, then you need to start looking elsewhere.
On the PC itself
Many PCs and laptops will have a sticker on the back or underside showing the serial number. The same sticker could also be on the box that came with the Windows installation CD (although, these days, Windows doesn’t come with an installation CD. Windows 11 was a digital license upgrade via Windows Update.)
Contact the manufacturer
If you can’t find your serial number at all, one option is to contact the manufacturer of your computer. Their website will have a customer support phone number and email. Maybe also a live chat option.
If you upgraded to Windows 11 from Windows 10, you will have what’s called a digital license. This means that the license key number is embedded inside your registered Microsoft account, and you don’t have to actually type in a serial key number.
If you need to reinstall Windows 11, you would have to ensure Windows 11 was active on your computer and you were using the same Microsoft account as before. Microsoft has a good support page that goes into this in more detail.
Read more: How to install Windows on Chromebooks
This means that the manufacturer never set the serial number setting on the BIOS. You would need to look for it another way.
Yes, they’re the same thing.
If you are buying a computer with Windows already pre-installed, then the serial number comes with the computer. However, if you need a new version of Windows, you must pay for a serial number.
One month. After that, it will revert to an extremely limited version until you pay for a key.
A key can only be used on one Windows PC at a time.