Lost the Product Key for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac?

I was round at a friends place last night, delivering my old MacBook which I sold to them (after having it repaired). Of course I got roped into fixing the other problems that they were going through with their new Mac setup.

You know the usual in regards to changing from PC to Mac (they also got a new 20″ iMac), printer issues, Mail issues, etc.

Last thing that was going on as I was planning on leaving was that they were installing Adobe CS3 Design Standard (Academic) and Office 2008 for Mac (Home and Student Edition). And here came the problem…

Having just bought new equipment, there had been boxes everywhere, and a clean up had been done to cull all the boxes, and stuff that wasn’t needed anymore.  With all the stuff thrown out was the Jewel Case that the Office 2008 DVD had come with, and hence the Product Key. 🙁

I googled “recover product key from Office 2008 for mac” to see if the was software or a method for extracting the Product Key from the currently installed version, but all methods for doing that were Windows related, and useless for me. But the forth link turned up a forums post on macrumors.com that had the comment

“Simply copy the Microsoft Office 2004 (or whatever version you have) folder in Applications to the new Mac’s Applications folder. No need for anything else. :)” find it here

Really…. That can’t possibly work… This is Microsoft your talking about… The company that forces you to phone someone to update your product key for windows if you change your hardware too much.

Well, I decided that It wouldn’t hurt to try, plenty of space on the HDD, and I wasn’t doing anything else. So I copied the Microsoft Office 2008 folder from the Applications folder on the iMac to the Applications folder on the MacBook.  15mins later….

I tried opening Word on the MacBook, and it was happy as Larry. So I tried to do a Check for Updates, and that failed. Came up with a message telling me to reinstall Office. So I inserted the DVD and ran the Setup program.

“A previous Installation of Office 2008 with Product Key …. has been found… Continue Installation?”


Took 20mins to run the Install Program, and it automatically ran the Auto Updater Program.

All working Fine.

So to Sum up;

  • You’ve lost your legitimate product key and have Office installed on another computer already
  • Copy the Office folder from the Applications Folder from existing Computer to the New Computer
  • Insert the Install DVD in the New Computer
  • Run the Installer
  • Let Auto Updater do it’s thing

As far as I know this process works with the previous versions of Office for Mac also.

Microsoft Copy Security for Mac = FAIL

29 responses on “Lost the Product Key for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac?

  1. istox

    Awesome!! THanks for posting this – helped a lot. I lost the entire ms office box + cd and now need to put office 2008 on my new mac. I have gotten an install disk from a friend, but am happy I can recover my legit serial. Thanks again!

  2. Pete Prodoehl

    Good to know! I’m trying to upgrade a copy of Word we have, and the CD has been lost to the ages many years ago… I’ll give this method a try. (I was going to try it anyway, but finding someone who actually got it to work is a bit more reassuring!)

  3. alicesperi

    thank you so much for posting!
    i tried this and it seems to be working fine… without even having to put in the install dvd… all i did was copy the office folder, paste and update…
    how is this even possible???

  4. Katje Janisch

    Thanks so much for the info! With it I was able to install Office on my new computer.

    Instead of moving the whole Office folder, I looked in it and discovered a file “MS Office 2004 Serial.rtf.” The key was inside.

  5. car.audio.jared

    Also for Office 2008 the serial info is held within only 2 files! Copy those 2 files after office is installed on both machines and your golden! The two files are….

    Mac HD > Users > Your UserID > Library > Preferences > Microsoft > Office 2008 > Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist

    Mac HD > Applications > Microsoft Office 2008 > Office > OfficePID.plist

    For me at least all I had to do was copy the files from one machine to another and it worked….I didn’t have to run setup or find a cd or anything!

  6. pwh.web

    Awesome info…just setting up my new MBP 13″ and realized I’d trashed the jewel case some time ago.

    You just saved me $130!

    Great tip!

  7. nlathe6

    The problem I am having is I want to install a new copy of Office and it keeps showing a previous owners product key. I have searched through all the folders to remove everything relating to Microsoft Office and it keeps popping up with the same product key… Any ideas?

  8. admin

    Hi Amanda,

    The easiest way would be to use an External Hard Disk, or a 1gb USB Drive.

    Plug the drive into the old computer, copy the folder onto the drive, eject it, plug it into the new computer, copy the folder from the drive onto the new computer.

  9. chiahuichang0416

    This really works! I was so shocked that my microsoft word suddently didnt work. it showed that" the word is already been used"…it was so weird.

    Thank you for sharing this! U saved me cuz I have to write my final paper immediately!! 🙂

  10. jondreads

    The Auto Update program is installed in HD/Library/Application Support/Microsoft. Copy that across and you don't need to reinstall afterwards.

  11. Suzy

    AMAZING!!  I accidentally through away my box and sleeve for my MS Office CD.  I bought a new laptop and thought I was screwed.  Thank you!!!  

  12. Phebe

    I copied the File to the new laptop, and then clicked on WORD to open the program, It said it doesnt work on this version of Mac , so I needed to install an update.
    Then, I put my installation CD, didnt ask for product key this time. and started to install,
    but then, i stopped and asked me where the "System Events.app' is?
    and i couldnt find it, so it DOES NOT work. I cannot use any of the office applications. 
    what to do now?

  13. Phebe

    I found the system events.app, and finished the installing, but it said Installation failed, and doesnt let me use it again.
    i wonder why

  14. m

    Thank you, Thank you!! I didn't even have to use the cd, I just copied it from my back up disk and it started working immediatly!

  15. nat

    Thank you! Thank you! I had the same issue. I migrated from snow leopard to mountain lion, and Office 2008 stopped working. I actually copied this folder from my old mac:
    Applications > Microsoft Office 2008 > Office

    On to my new computer here:
    Applications > Microsoft Office 2008 > Office

    Rather than just the OfficePID.plist file, as the Office folder didn’t exist on my new computer, and now it works perfectly 🙂

  16. Sen

    Brilliant. Thank you it worked like a charm with some trial and error.

    Here’s what I had to do differently:
    1. Copy the directory “Microsoft Office 2008” in Applications to my new mac (both on OSX Mavericks).
    2. Then deleted all of the files, except the “SetupInfo.plist” and “OfficePID.plist” in the folder named “Office”.
    3. Downloaded the Microsoft Office 2008 installer from (http://msft-dnl.digitalrivercontent.net/msoffice/pub/X16-17293/X16-17293_OFC2008-1222_EN.DMG link from this site http://www.heidoc.net/joomla/technology-science/microsoft/72-office-2008-for-mac-direct-download-links)
    4. Mount and ran the installer (had to hold down CTRL to open).
    5. Voila, the installer read the key / product ID and installed.
    6. Automatically ran the updates.
    7. be 🙂

    — thank you once again.

  17. Sen

    I was getting an error when I simply ran the installer after copying the full directory = “A newer version of the Office 2008 is installed already on this computer”. The above steps resolved it for me.

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