How to Activate Windows 10 After Installing

Feb 9, 2017 - 14 Comments

Make a Windows 10 installer from Mac OS X

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:

  1. From the Windows 10 desktop, access ‘All Settings’ (either from the Start menu or the sidebar)
  2. activate windows 10

  3. At the bottom of the Windows Settings screen, click on “Windows isn’t activated. Activate Windows now.”
  4. activate Windows 10

  5. From the Windows Activation section of Settings, choose “Go To Store”
  6. buy and activate Windows 10

  7. 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
  8. activate Windows 10

  9. 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
  10. activate Windows 10

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.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks


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  1. Mandy says:

    I own an iMac (2013) and would like to install Windows 10 using Bootcamp. I know this is possible as I’ve done it previously. However, I would like to activate Windows using a product key which I would have to purchase (no problem). The issue I have is whether I could use Windows and MacOS side by side once Windows is activated. The lady at Microsoft says this is not possible and it would wipe my MacOS. Please help. I am so confused!!

    • bobo says:

      she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You partition your hard drive, and install windows. When it works, it’s doing its thing independent of Mac OS. You can check youtube or call apple support if you get confused.

  2. noway says:

    I hate Windoze and bootcamp. Tried multiple (8) brand new 32 and 64GB flash drives, every f’n time bootcamp says there’s not enough room to install, yet these flash drives are EMPTY and show this in disk utility and get info.


    • Evgeny says:

      I have abandoned Bootcamp. It is very annoying to reboot the machine every time if I need to use windows. But I have to. So why don’t you use Virtualbox and put windows on it.

      • noway says:

        Have spent another 2 days attempting to install Windoze 10 only to result in an epic fail over and over.

        I went so far as to wipe my main drive in my MBP and do from a fresh DL a clean install of Sierra, and immediately attempt a Bootcamp install, with the same results as all other attempts, the installer will not boot and install. I have made over a dozen installers on a variety of USB flash drives, followed Apples instructions to the letter, and nothing.

        Called Apple who told me “we don’t support Windows” and refused to give me any help.

        Conclusion AFAIK, Apple computers can NOT run Windoze, and Apples official position is they do not support this.

        • Tonga Gin says:

          Wrong, Macs run Windows fine. Windows 10 installs on any Mac that supports boot camp. You can also install in a virtual machine easily. I use a VM personally but have used boot camp before.

          • noway says:

            The two plus day i spent that resulted in epic fail after epic fail on a very qualified MBP (2.5Ghz i5 8GB RAM running clean install of Sierra) proves different, as do the nearly endless plethora of stories online getting the same result, and Apples lack of any support to do so.

  3. Slapppy says:

    Um what if I’m still using my PC with Windows 8? If I try this on my Mac using Virtualization and use that Windows 8 Key, will it disable my PC? Or will it have no affect on my PC currently on Windows 8.1.

  4. aaarnniiiiee says:

    You don’t need a specifically-for-windows-10 product key – I was able to use the one that came with the windows 7 I bought several years ago.

  5. cashxx says:

    Glad that it finally activates with Windows 7 keys now! That was a pain!

  6. GeekStick says:

    Windows 10 really should be called Windows 666.

  7. Facts says:

    You do not need to activate Windows 10 to use Windows 10, or to install Windows 10.

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