If you have been buying software for some time, you know how messy it gets when maintaining a record of all those product license keys - some are printed on software boxes, inside email messages, at the back of CD jewel cases while some developers provide registration details in loose paper that's so easy to misplace.

As your software inventory increases, it becomes all the more important to prepare a proper record of all your software at one place. It need not be an Excel spreadsheet and we'll show you an alternate approach:

1. Use Belarc Advisor - This free utility creates a detailed profile of all software installed on your computer including their current version numbers and serial numbers that you have entered while installing the software. It could even identify OEM product keys in some cases.

Here's a snapshot of Belarc's report - it could easily identify most of the software on our machine including products from Adobe, Microsoft, Nuance, Sonic, etc.


2. When you purchase a software through a webstore, store a copy of the online receipt (that has the registration details) as an image using any screen capture program or Firefox extensions.

Adopt a standard naming convention for these images like Vendor_Software_Version (example: Symantec_Norton_360.jpg) - that makes it very easy to sort and locate software licenses in future - and since we are using real screen captures, the chances of making errors are almost null.

Scan Images into Text without a Scanner

3. If the software key is printed on a physical medium like CD or paper, use your cameraphone or digital camera to capture a image of the license key and archive the picture as shown in the previous step. Make sure the camera flash is turned off as that is likely to wash out the print during capture.

For instance, here's an actual image of the DragonNaturally Speaking 9 installer CD that carries the registration code at the top. (The actual image is much larger and very readable)

Dragon 9 CD
4. If the license information is an email message, save that as a plain text or PDF file using the same standard naming convention we adopted above.

Now we have one folder that stores all our software licenses in text or image form. Quick and simple. And if you have to backup all your license information, simply archive this folder.