SOLVED! You Need To Activate Windows Before You Can Personalize Your PC

Overall, when people fire up the operating system version of their computer for the first time, it won’t work precisely as they want and personalization is necessary. In earlier versions of Windows, it’s possible to personalize before activating the OS. However, in the latest Windows version, OS activation takes precedence which means you need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC. 

An Analysis Of The Situation

In layman’s terms, if you see the message about Windows activation, it indicates that your Windows is inactive. Different issues create different trouble but regarding the “you need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC” message, you must consider these possibilities. 

Invalid Activation Key

Using the wrong activation key can complicate the process of activating the Windows license and render your version of Windows inactive. For instance, the license key designed for business systems won’t work on systems designed for other purposes.

Hardware Changes

Sometimes, changing your computer’s hardware can deactivate Windows, rendering you unable to personalize your PC until you reactivate it. That is usually the case if you replace your PC’s motherboard.

Reinstalling or Updating Windows

After reinstalling Windows, your PC might not be able to remember the license and ask you to activate the OS again. Furthermore, the “you need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC” message could pop up following Windows updates as well. 


Being unable to personalize your PC because Windows isn’t active can prevent you from configuring your preferences and impair experience. On the bright side, you should be able to take care of the Windows activation message in a couple of ways.

Activate Windows

It is a good idea to activate Windows when you keep getting the “You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC” message. 

Product Key

  • Step 1: Press the Start button on the taskbar and open the Settings menu.
  • Step 2: Navigate to System > Activation > Update product key > Change product key.
  • Step 3: Enter the 25-character code as the product key

Digital License

  • Step 1: Press Windows + I to open Settings. 
  • Step 2: Navigate to Emails & Accounts > Add an account.
  • Step 3: Select “”, enter your Microsoft account credentials and click Next.
  • Step 4: Go to Settings > Update and Security > Activation to confirm your activation settings. The activation field should read, “ Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.
  • Step 5: If Windows is still not activated, run the command slmgr /ato to refresh your activation status using the Command Prompt app.

Registry Editor

One of the best ways to get around personalizing your PC without activating Windows is through the registry editor. You can change the background, taskbar, and toggle the start menu using this option.

Changing The Background

Changing your PC’s background through registries is easy and doesn’t require any registry tweaks.

  • Step 1: Open your browser to find and download your preferred wallpaper.
  • Step 2: Set the wallpaper as background on your PC.

To switch to a picture slideshow, follow the following steps:

  • Step 1: Access a Windows 8 PC.
  • Step 2: Create a custom theme and include some pictures for the slideshow.
  • Step 3: Export the theme and load it in Windows 11.

Changing The Taskbar

To customize the taskbar for a different accent color than the background, you need to change a single registry item.

  • Step 1: Use the shortcut Windows + R to open Run.
  • Step 2: Type Regedit and press enter to open the Registry Editor.
  • Step 3: Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Themes > Personalize.
  • Step 4: Change the ColorPalence Value Data field to 1 by double-clicking and typing the value 1.
  • Step 5: Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Control Panel.
  • Step 6: Select the Desktop Directory without expanding it.
  • Step 7: Change the Autocolorization Value Data field in the right panel to 1.
  • Step 8: Exit the Registry Editor.
  • Step 9: Restart File Explorer.

Toggle The Start Menu/Screen

You don’t need to modify registries to perform this function.

  • Step 1: Use the shortcut keys Windows + S to initiate a search.
  • Step 2: Type Tablet Mode Settings and press Enter.
  • Step 3: Select the option to always switch to tablet mode when using your device as a tablet.

Fix Corrupted Tokens.dat File

Windows activation may fail due to a corrupt tokens.dat file, making you unable to personalize your PC. You will need to use the Command Prompt to fix this issue.

Get In Touch With Microsoft Support

When none of the above brings positive changes and you don’t know what must be done, contact the Microsoft Support team and check if they may accord you further assistance. They will verify your product key’s authenticity and assign you an ID so that you can reactivate Windows and personalize your PC.

A Guide For Beginners

  • Disable “prevent changing theme” using Registry and Group Policy Editors.
  • Store your original product key in an easily retrievable place.

How Do I Remove Windows Activation?

You can remove windows activation or license key using Command Prompt. Here are the steps to do so.

  • Step 1: Type CMD on the search bar menu to launch the Command Prompt.
  • Step 2: Run the command slmgr /upk and wait for the process to complete.
  • Step 3: Next execute the command slmgr /cpky
  • Step 4: Type slmgr /rearm and press enter, and wait for the process to complete. This should remove windows activation.

How Long Can I Use Windows 10 Without Activation?

You can use Windows 10 without activation for 30 days following installation. During this time, you will be able to access features available on activated Windows. Restrictions will come into effect after the 30th day of installation.

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