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Article ID: 2390862
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Symptoms

After you install Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 or Office for Mac Home and Student 2011, you try to enter the product key when you are prompted, and you receive the following error message:

The product key is not valid. Make sure that you entered the correct key. If the key doesn’t work, contact Microsoft Customer Service and Support.

Resolution

Method 1: Verify that the correct product key is entered



Note Product keys differ, depending on the version of Office for Mac 2011. It is important to enter the correct product key that corresponds to the product that you have.

To make sure that you enter the correct product key, follow these steps:
  1. Verify that you are typing the product key and that you are not typing one of these other numbers:
    • The CD set number
    • The disc assembly number
    • The part number
    • A 27-character PIN

    Important
    The product key contains 25 characters. If there are 27 characters, then you have a PIN and not a product key. To obtain the 25-character product key, visit the following website, and use the 27-character PIN:
    http://www.microsoft.com/mac/getkey
  2. The product key location differs based on the kind of product that you purchased. If you purchased a boxed product, the 25-character product key is located inside the disc case or on the back of the disc sleeve on a rectangular orange label that is included with the installation media.

    If you purchased the product through a website, the product key is sent to you in an email message that has the subject, "Microsoft Office for Mac US Store - Order Confirmation."

    The number is displayed in the following format:

    PRODUCT KEY:
    XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX


    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    2504597
  3. To use a Step Up upgrade product key, Home and Student must be installed and activated on the computer. If Home and Student is not activated on the computer, you must use the product key that was included with Home and Student to activate it. You cannot use the Step Up upgrade key to activate the Home and Student product. If Home and Student is not installed on the computer, you have to install it first before you use the Step Up upgrade key to activate Outlook for Mac.
  4. Retype the product key. Make sure that you type the correct characters. The following characters are frequently mistaken for one another:
    • B and 8
    • G and 6
    • U and V
    • Q and O
    • The letter O and the number 0 (zero)
    • The letter L and the number 1
  5. Verify that you are using the product key together with the correct product. Product keys work only for the product to which the product key is assigned.

    If you are entering the correct set of characters, and if you still receive the same error message, go to Method 2.

Method 2: Troubleshoot the Operating System


To make sure that there is no problem with the Mac, with the Mac user profile, or with a previous installation of Office for Mac 2011, follow these steps:

Step 1: Check the hard disk drive name

Note: When the hard disk drive name contains a space, characters such as a slash ( / ), or commas, the activation wizard may not start.
  1. Click an empty part of the desktop to make the Finder active.
  2. On the Go menu, click Computer.
  3. Under Devices, click the hard disk icon. 
  4. On the File menu, click Get Info.
  5. In Name and Extension, verify the hard disk name is Macintosh HD. If it is not, change the name to Macintosh HD.
    Note: Make sure that there are no spaces or special characters such as commas, slashes, and so on.
  6. Close the window.
  7. Run the Office setup wizard again, and try to activate the program by entering the product key.

If the error continues to occur, go to the next step.

Step 2:Remove the Office license file

To remove the Office license file, follow these steps:
  1. On the Go menu, click Computer.
  2. Double-click your hard disk icon. The default name will be Macintosh HD.
  3. Open Library, and then open Preferences.
  4. Drag com.microsoft.office.licensing.plist to the Trash.
If the error continues to occur, go to the next step.

Step 3: Create a new Mac user account

Sometimes, a Mac user account may be corrupted. This can cause problems with activation. To determine whether the Mac user account is corrupted, you can log on as a new user or create a new user account, and then test an application. For steps and instructions about how to create a new user account, read the following Microsoft knowledge base article: 

2439218 Testing your user account to troubleshoot Office for Mac applications

If the error continues to occur, go to the next step.

Step 4: Test in safe mode 

You can use safe mode to troubleshoot the problem. For information about how to restart the computer in safe mode, read the following Microsoft knowledge base article: 

2398596 Perform a clean startup (Safe boot) to determine whether background programs are interfering with Office for Mac

If the error continues to occur, go to the next step. 

Step 5: Use the "Repair Disk Permissions" option 

You can use the Repair Disk Permissions option to troubleshoot permissions problems in Mac OS X 10.2 or in later versions. To use the Repair Disk Permissions option, follow these steps:
  1. Click an empty part of the desktop to make the Finder active.
  2. On the Go menu, click Utilities.
  3. Open Disk Utility.
  4. Select the primary hard disk (Macintosh HD, for example) on the Mac.
  5. Click the First Aid tab.
  6. Click Repair Disk Permissions.

If the error continues to occur, go to the next step. 

Step 6: Completely remove Office from your computer, and then reinstall 

You must manually remove all files for Office for Mac on your computer. For information about how to remove Office for Mac from your computer, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

2398768 How to completely remove Office for Mac 2011

If these steps do not resolve the issue, go to "Method 3: Obtain a replacement product key." 

Method 3: Obtain a replacement product key

  For more information about how to obtain a new product key, read the following Microsoft knowledge base article:  
2279109 Obtain a new product key for Office for Mac

Frequently Asked questions


Q1: Can I activate Outlook by using the Home and Student product key?

A1: No. If you have Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 installed, the product key that is included only activates Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Outlook for Mac 2011 cannot be activated by using the Home and Student product key. You can run Outlook 2011 by clicking the Try free for 30 days option, or you can click Purchase a Product Key online to upgrade to Home and Business.

Q2: Do I have to activate Home and Student first before I enter the Home and Business product key?

A2: Yes. You must first activate Home and Student and then enter your Home and Business product key to upgrade.

References

For more information about how to upgrade to Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 version, read the following Microsoft knowledge base article:  
2393959 Upgrade Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 to Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011

Properties

Article ID: 2390862 - Last Review: October 1, 2012 - Revision: 35.1
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