Serial Number Frustration

Update 03/15:

The file I needed was not in my Home directory. It was in HD/Library/Preferences, not User/Library/Preferences! All I can assume is this file is located centrally so one activation code can be used regardless of how many user accounts are on the machine. I have overcome, but I still strongly dislike product activation keys.

Original Post:

I made the mistake of using Apple’s Migration Assistant when setting up my MacBook Pro. I say this was a mistake because I was migrating information form a PPC Mac, and I found out later that migrating PPC to Intel in this method can cause performance issues on the Intel Mac – which it very noticeably did. Therefore, I backed up important information and did a clean install of OS X on my new system.

Very carefully, I placed everything back where it should go (only to discover that I failed to back up some Keynote themes that were not in my Home directory, but that is easily fixed). So far, everything has worked very well, and the machine’s performance is much better. Unfortunately, I have run into one snag:


Yes, my friends, what you see is a product activation dialog for iWork. For some reason, putting iWork back onto the machine – even after copying all related files I could find with a Spotlight search – resulted in them being detected as unlicensed.

Like any good person, I grabbed my product manual where I had affixed the serial number, and my eyes caught an unwelcome surprise. The serial number I had was my old iWork ’05 number. The iWork ’06 code was nowhere to be found. All I can figure is that I tossed the iWork ’06 number on accident during a cleaning spree while saving the old one.

This is the only Apple software product I use that requires activation. iLife requires no activation. Even OS X installs without a serial number. Why then does Apple needlessly complicate matters here? By requiring product activation, Apple is basically treating their users like thieves, but they are being inconsistent about this treatment! Unfortunately, I am no thief. I am just really absent-minded once I get into cleaning fits. However, the result seems to be the same: I’m screwed.

The lack of iWork brings many of my projects, including portions of this site, to a screeching halt, but I hate the idea of buying software that I have already paid for, especially since a new version of iWork could be released any day now. My frustration with this is very high, and I am not sure how I am going to solve this. I can’t find a section on Apple’s site for lost registrations. No one has been able to point me to where this activation file might be hidden. (My pre-reformat system is still backed up to an external drive.) I don’t know if I should just go buy a new copy of iWork or not.

I already didn’t like product activation steps because of the mistrust they infer. Now I’m really upset by them. I don’t like being treated like a pirate when trying to use a legitimately purchased copy of software. Sure, serial numbers have their place in online-distributed applications, but they are an unkind gesture in boxed software. This is one valid reason why.