How To Recover Your Starcraft Anthology CD Key

I recently ran into an issue where a buddy of mine was unable to find his original Starcraft disc and the CD case, but he had his Broodwar disc, which meant that he was without a CD key.  Hoping to help him, I tried to use a  few recovery tools, but they all failed to work, or were horribly outdated.  I was later determined to figure it out non-the-less, and with a few minutes of your time, you can too.  There is one tool we will need however, and that’s going to be a hex editor.  In this example, I’m using the CD key of “9999-99999-9999”.


  • Frhed (Hex Editor, FOSS)
  • Working Starcraft Installation (which uses the CD key you lost)
  • Starcraft / Broodwar CD (to load up the game)
  • Windows Vista/7/8/8.1


  1. Make sure Starcraft is fully up to date.  (At the time of this writing, it’s at 1.16.1.)
  2. Open Starcraft, and get to the Login Screen but do _not_ log in.
  3. Hit Alt+Tab on your keyboard to get back to your Desktop.
  4. Hit Ctrl+Shift+Esc on your keyboard to open up the Windows Task Manager.
  5. Select the “Processes” tab, and find “StarCraft.exe” in the list.
  6. Right click on “StarCraft.exe” in the list and select “Create Dump File”.
  7. Take special note of where it saved the dump to and navigate to that directory.  (Usually, it’s in the current user Temp folder, which you can get to by entering “%TEMP%” into the location bar of any Explorer window.)
  8. Copy the dump file to your desktop.  It should be named “StarCraft.DMP”.
  9. Open up Frhed, and select File > Open to open the Starcraft dump file on your desktop.
  10. Select Edit > Find and Replace > Find… from the menu.
  11. In the Find What box, enter “Starcraft\SWAR\lang\grid.cpp” and hit Find.  (This should bring you to the first result.)
  12. Hit F4 two (2) times.  (This should bring you to approximately the point where you’ll find your key.)
  13. On the right side, look for a string starting with “mo” proceeded by some random numbers.  (The image below shows you what you should be looking for.)
  14. Those random numbers are your CD key. (The area in the image highlighted in yellow is the CD key.)

Starcraft Hex Dump

For those that have a history with hex editors, in my quick tests, the CD key was not at the same offset, so I can’t really give a specific offset to try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *