How to Activate Windows 10 After Installing
We recently showed users how to download Windows 10 ISO for free from Microsoft, which can then be installed and run on a PC, in a virtual machine, or with Boot Camp on a Mac without activating. If you decide you want to keep Windows 10 and continue to use it with a full feature set like the ability to change the wallpaper, you’ll likely want to activate Windows 10 however. We’ll show you how you can easily activate Windows 10 if you choose to do so.
In order to activate Windows 10 you will need a Windows product key from Microsoft. You can buy one directly from the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 Pro for $200 and activate the Windows 10 release if desired.
Remember, you do not need to have a product key to use Windows 10 and you do not need to activate Windows 10 to install it using the ISO as described here. If you just want to try out Windows 10 and you aren’t sure if you want to commit to it, you can easily do that with the aforementioned ISO and a PC, VirtualBox, or Boot Camp.
How to Activate Windows 10
This assumes you have already downloaded Windows 10 and installed it somewhere, and are thereby able to access the Windows 10 desktop and activation screens. Assuming that’s the case, here’s how you can activate Windows 10 with a product key:
- From the Windows 10 desktop, access ‘All Settings’ (either from the Start menu or the sidebar)
- At the bottom of the Windows Settings screen, click on “Windows isn’t activated. Activate Windows now.”
- From the Windows Activation section of Settings, choose “Go To Store”
- At the “Get genuine Windows” screen click on the price tag button to buy a Windows 10 product key, it’s $200 in the US for the pro version
- Sign into a Microsoft account (or create a new one) and add a payment method if you have not done so already to complete the purchase
After Windows 10 has been activated you can freely personalize the wallpaper and you will no longer see the “Windows isn’t activated” messages throughout Settings.
If you already have a Windows 10 product key in your email or otherwise, you can also add it directly to Windows 10 to activate the release by going to the Settings > Activation > Change Product Key section.
Note you can also choose to activate Windows 10 during the installation of the operating system if you have a product key handy then too, whether it’s in a virtual machine, on a PC, or via Boot Camp. Or you can skip activation, during installation, or after the fact, it’s up to you.
Keep in mind if you don’t activate Windows 10 it will nag you every once in a while, you will have a watermark on the screen, and you also will lose the ability to change the desktop wallpaper. Despite those inconveniences (and perhaps others down the road), the Windows OS itself remains usable.