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What Is a KEY File?
What to Know
- A KEY file could be a software license or Keynote Presentation file.
- Not all of them open the same way, but trying a text editor is a good start.
- Some can be converted to PPT with Keynote.
This article explains all the different formats that use the KEY file extension and how to open and convert each one, if possible.
What Is a KEY File?
A file with the .KEY file extension might be a plain text or encrypted generic license key file used to register a software program. Different applications use different KEY files to register their respective software and prove that the user is the legal purchaser.
A similar file format uses the KEY file extension as a way to store general registration information. It's most likely created by the program when a product key is used and might be transferable to other computers should the user need to reinstall the software elsewhere.
Another kind of KEY file is a Keynote Presentation file created by the Apple Keynote software. This is a kind of presentation that might include slides that contain images, shapes, tables, text, notes, media files, XML-related data, etc. When saved to iCloud, ".KEY-TEF" is used instead.
Keyboard Definition files are saved with the .KEY file extension as well. They store information regarding computer keyboards, like shortcut keys or layouts.
Unrelated to a KEY file is a registry key in the Windows Registry. Some license or registration files might instead just be called a keyfile and not use a specific file extension. Others might be in the PEM format that store public/private encryption keys.
How to Open a KEY File
It's important to know which file format your KEY file is in before deciding how to open it. Even though all of the programs mentioned below can open KEY files, it doesn't mean that they can open KEY files that belong to other programs.
License or Registration Files
If your antivirus program happens to use a KEY file to register the software and prove that you're the one who purchased it, then you need to use that program to open your KEY file.
LightWave is one example of a program that uses a KEY file to register it as a legal copy.
If it is, in fact, a license key file you have, you might also be able to read the license information with a text editor like Notepad.
It's important to reiterate that not every KEY file can be opened with the same program, and this is also true within the context of software license keys. For example, if your file backup program requires a software license file, you can't expect to use it to register your antivirus program (or even any other backup program that isn't the one that the KEY file belongs to).
Registration files are probably encrypted and can't be viewed, and they probably don't even need to be. They might be copied elsewhere should the scenario arise that the program using it is installed elsewhere and the old one deactivated.
Since they're specific to each program that uses them, contact the software developer if you can't get yours to work as it should. They'll have more information regarding how it's supposed to be used.
Keynote Presentation KEY Files
You can open KEY files on macOS using Keynote or Preview. iOS users can use KEY files with the Keynote app.
Keyboard Definition KEY Files
Opening keyboard-related KEY files is only useful in a program that supports custom keyboard shortcuts. If you don't have such an application, you might be able to read its instructions with a text editor.
How to Convert KEY Files
Of the file formats mentioned above that use the KEY file extension, it only makes sense to convert a Keynote Presentation file, which you can with the Keynote program for macOS.
With it, KEY files can be exported to PDF, MS PowerPoint formats like PPT or PPTX, HTML, M4V, and image file formats like PNG, JPG, and TIFF.
The iOS version of the Keynote app can export the file to PPTX and PDF.
Another method is to use an online KEY file converter like Zamzar to save the file to KEY09, MOV, or one of the formats mentioned above, like PDF or PPTX.
Still Can't Open the File?
If your file won't open with the software from above, double-check that the extension reads ".KEY" and not something that just looks similar. It's easy to confuse one for a KEYCHAIN, KEYSTORE, or KEYTAB file.
If you don't really have a KEY file, it's best to research the actual file extension for details on what opens or converts that specific file type.
The FEK is a symmetric key used to encrypt the data in a file protected by the Windows Encrypting File System (EFS). Windows further encrypts the FEK and stores it in the file metadata so only authorized users can access it.
You can reverse the encryption to access your file. Right-click the file, go to Properties > General > Advanced,and clear the Encrypt contents to secure the data check box. Click OK twice to apply the changes and exit the window.
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Every licensed copy of Windows 10 has a unique license key and if you ever need to reinstall Windows, you’ll potentially need to find the Windows 10 product key to get things back up and running again.
The problem is that most people have never even seen their key, since they bought a computer with Windows preloaded. You may also have lost yours or forgot what you did with it. The good news is that there are many different ways to figure out what license key is yours.
Also, be sure to check out our short video on our YouTube channel that walks you through the info we have written about in this article.
But First, Some Things You Should Know
Your Windows 10 product key is not locked to any sort of specific Windows 10 media. If you’ve lost your disc or flash drive with Windows 10, you can simply download a new copy and install from that. The key is simply a representation of your license.
Your Windows 10 license is also locked to a particular computer’s hardware. If you make a big hardware change, or change computers entirely, then you’ll have to do a reactivation so bind your license to the new hardware configuration. If Microsoft thinks you are abusing your license by installing Windows 10 to multiple machines at the same time, they may be unwilling to do this.
You Might Not Need It
If you have a Microsoft Account and have previously linked it to your Windows 10 product key, all you have to do on a new install is log in with your account details. Check out this article on how to link your product key to see how it works.
When you switch from a “local account” to logging in with your Microsoft Account, this probably happened automatically. If you are trying to activate a copy of Windows, simply change your account from local to Microsoft and it should work.
The same applies if you upgraded a copy of Windows 7 or 8, for which you would have needed a Microsoft Account. Simply log into Windows with your account credentials, since there is no product key involved here either.
Check Your Retail Box
This is very obvious, we know. Still it should be mentioned since, if you bought a boxed retail Windows 10 copy, this is the simplest way to find the Windows 10 product key. It should be inside the box printed on something.
Get It Straight From Windows
If you’ve got an activated copy of Windows and just want to see what the product key is, all you have to do is go to Settings > Update & Security > Activation and then check the page. If you have a product key, it will be displayed here. If you have a digital license instead, it will simply say so.
Check Your Computer for a Sticker
If you bought a pre-built computer or laptop which came with Windows 10, check the chassis for a sticker which displays the Windows 10 product key. This is becoming less common with high-end laptops such as unibody ultrabooks, but plenty of computers still display their product keys on a sticker.
Check The Documents That Came With Your PC
If there’s no sticker in sight, there might be a certificate of authenticity in the document pack that came with your computer. Assuming that you didn’t throw all of those little pamphlets out, you might be lucky and find your product key in between the offers for antivirus packages and peripherals.
Use a Third-Party Tool
One of the easiest ways to retrieve your product key from a running machine is to use a third-party utility. Produkey worked perfectly for us on the latest version of Windows Just run the program and your product key is right there.
Do note that some anti-malware packages will flag Produkey as a “PUP” or potentially unwanted program. It’s not a virus or anything harmful to your system, a PUP is just a tool that could be used by hackers to compromise your machine. However, this is your computer, so there’s nothing wrong with you using the tool to retrieve the key you already paid for.
Digital Store Records
If you bought your copy of Windows 10 through a digital storefront such as Amazon or the Microsoft Store, they’ll have a record of your product key. It will either be in the email you were sent confirming the purchase or in your order history, should you have deleted that email. So all you have to do is search your mailbox or log into your online account.
Hit Up The OEM
If you bought a pre-built computer or laptop that came with Windows, then you probably have an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Windows license. This opens up the possibility that your OEM will know which product key goes with your computer’s serial number.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll have this information on hand for you, but if you’ve come this far down the list then it’s not the worst option.
The Last Resort: Call Microsoft
OK, this might not really be a last resort. While there have been ups and downs over the years, Microsoft’s online customer service was quite good the last few times we’ve had to deal with them. So if you do have problems activating Windows or finding your Windows 10 product key, there’s a good chance hopping on live chat with one of their service representatives will solve the issue.
Are You The Keymaster?
Product license keys are obviously on the way out when it comes to Windows, as Microsoft starts shifting to a cloud-based subscription model for its software and services.
For now however, we still have to occasionally deal with the minor road block of not having a Windows key in hand. The worst case scenario is being forced to buy a whole new Windows license, but hopefully the tips above will help you avoid that.
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Q: Can I purchase a license to run the Belarc Advisor on my corporate network, or my customer’s network?
We do not permit use of the Belarc Advisor for commercial purposes, however we suggest that you take a look at our products, which we do license for commercial use.We offer some charitable organizations a license to use the Belarc Advisor at no cost, under certain conditions. Please send us information about your charity, a URL and the number of PCs and servers. Email: email@example.com