Administrators, you already know the reasons you might need to change the product key on an Office installation, so I won’t need to explain or justify them here. Unfortunately, questions about this procedure are met with a terse response from Microsoft, blog posts about the procedure are way out of date, and the responses you’ll find in forum threads manage to be unhelpful, despite their unspoken self-righteous condemnation of your presumed piracy.
Making matters worse, the procedure offered by Microsoft is a pack of lies that will guide you to total removal of Office on your system; at least, Microsoft removed in 2008 the function they describe for Office 2004. And on top of that, reinstalling Office after following this or any other procedure still won’t clear the registration information.
To change the serial number, product key, CD key, license key, or whatever you want to call the string of characters required to activate a Microsoft product on an existing installation of Office 2008 for Mac, follow these simple steps:
- Quit all open Office applications to prevent them from clobbering your work
- Delete the file
/Applications/Microsoft Office 2008/Office/OfficePID.plist
- Delete the file
~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist
- Launch one of the Office applications to go through the Setup Assistant and enter the new license key
- Removal of both these files is important, as they appear to back each other up and will “repair” each other when you launch Office.
- There’s no need to disconnect the network, as suggested in Microsoft’s note.
- You can modify OfficePID.plist directly to change the registered name, but the serial number is not stored here, so …good idea, but no dice. Only the Setup Assistant can deal with a new license key.
- You may want to delete the “Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist” file from the home directory of every user on the system, to prevent one of them logging in and repairing the OfficePID.plist file with stale information. This happened to me once, logging in with my username and then switching to another user, but I couldn’t make it happen again, so I can’t tell exactly what happened.
I’m fairly annoyed that the “Remove Office” tool described in Microsoft’s technote doesn’t behave as described. Holding down the Option key never actually reveals any “Remove License Information Only” button in the tool that comes with 2008. Another fine oversight.
Hopefully this will be the worst snag in your deployment of Office 2008. Unfortunately, however, I have a feeling I have a few more things along these lines yet to post. Good luck.