How to change a windows XP key in safe mode

Written by craig witt
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How to change a windows XP key in safe mode
Change your Windows XP product key while in Safe Mode. (laptop image by Du...¡an Zidar from

All modern versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system require the entry of a 25-character product key during the installation process. Designed to prevent piracy and limit the use of Windows to properly licensed owners, each unique product key can only be used to activate a single copy of Windows. If you need to change this key value for any reason while in Windows XP's Safe Mode, perform the task with a helpful updating tool created and distributed by Microsoft.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Restart your Windows XP computer. Repeatedly tap the "F8" key until presented with a list of boot options.

  2. 2

    Press the down arrow key, highlight "Safe Mode with Networking" and press the "Enter" key to load Windows XP in Safe Mode.

  3. 3

    Open a Web browser window and navigate to the website for the Windows Product Key Update Tool.

  4. 4

    Check the box labelled "I understand this tool will send the above information to Microsoft" and click the adjacent "Download" button.

  5. 5

    Click "Run" or "Open" when prompted by your browser.

  6. 6

    Enter the replacement product key in the corresponding fields. The key value is generally located on a yellow sticker attached to the back side of your Windows XP installation disc case. Click "Next" to start the first part of the update process.

  7. 7

    Check the "Restart now" box and click "Finish" after the process completes. Windows XP will restart immediately.

  8. 8

    Select "Yes, let's activate Windows over the Internet now" when the Windows Product Activation Wizard appears on your screen and click "Next."

  9. 9

    Select "No, I don't want to register now; let's just activate Windows" and click "Next" to activate Windows XP using the new product key and complete the update process.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also activate Windows XP by phone. Select "Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows now" and click "Next" when the Product Activation Wizard appears on your screen. Call the listed phone number to speak with Microsoft's customer service department and finalise the activation process.

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