How to Find Product Keys for Older MS Office Versions

Find Lost Product Keys for Microsoft Office 2003, XP, 2000 and 97

Screenshot of a document in Microsoft Word 2002
Microsoft Office XP (Word 2002).
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Losing a product key is common, but let's be honest, it's probably guaranteed to be lost after all this time, considering how long ago these versions of Microsoft Office were popular.

Office 97 came out in 1996 for goodness' sake! Even the newest edition I talk about in this tutorial, Microsoft Office 2003, came out in - you guessed it - 2003. That was a long time ago.

So, no judgement here. Old things get lost.

Luckily, so long as this old version of Office is still installed, or at least was recently, you may be in luck.

All of these versions of Office stored their product keys in the Windows Registry, in a specific registry key. The stored product key is encrypted, but a key finder program can handle that issue, providing you with the actual key you can use to reinstall Office.

Note: This process works for any of the various Microsoft Office 2003, XP, 2000, or 97 suite editions, as well as if you only have one or some of the suite's programs installed, like Word, PowerPoint, etc.

How to Find Your Office 2003, XP, 2000, or 97 Product Key

  1. Download Keyfinder Thing. This is a free program that will automatically find, and decrypt, the product key to your older version of Office.

    Note: Most free key finder programs will find the product key to any of these older versions of Office, but I've found Keyfinder Thing to be the most consistent. Plus, it's very easy to use, easier than some of the others in my list I just linked to.
  1. Extract the ZIP file you just downloaded and run the KeyFinderThing.exe file to start the installation.
  2. Walk through the installation, being sure to choose Custom installation (advanced) whenever given the option, deselecting all of the extra stuff that comes alongside Keyfinder Thing.
  3. Choose to start Keyfinder Thing once the installation is done.
  1. Wait while Keyfinder Thing scans the registry, locates the product key for your version of Microsoft Office, and then shows those keys to you.
  2. Your Microsoft Office product key will be clearly listed and will be 25 characters long.

    Record the product key somewhere where you won't lose it again.

Tips & More Information

If Keyfinder Thing didn't work, by all means try another free key finder program. These programs change and update on a regular basis and considering how old some of these Office versions are, support may be dropped.

Other than that, though, you're left with buying a brand new copy of Microsoft Office. You'll no doubt have to choose a newer version of Office because your older version probably isn't available anymore.

Buy Microsoft Office at Amazon

Also, as tempting as they may be when reading about them elsewhere, please don't use a free Office installation key you might find on some websites, or download one of those malware stricken key generator tools. Both options are illegal.

Newer Versions of Microsoft Office

While the procedure above should work fine for Microsoft Office 2010 or 2007, there's another program that does a better job.

See How to Find Your Microsoft Office 2010 or 2007 Product Key for that tutorial.

Microsoft Office 2013 is another animal completely. Microsoft quit storing the entire Office product key in the registry starting with that version of Office, making finding a lost product key for Office 2013 a bit more challenging.

See How to Find Your Microsoft Office 2013 Product Key for help doing that.