Activating hard copy MSFS2020

Crispian Guest

I have a legitimate copy of MSFS 2020 on 10 DVDs. I loaded the 10 DVDs onto my PC and then lost the screen that allows you to put in the activation code before I had a chance to enter the code from the boxed set.

How do I get to the activation screen again? Do I have to start from the beginning again and put in all 10 DVDs ( Disk 1 does not seem to recognize that all the loading is there already!)?

Thanks for any help.

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Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hi Crispian,

It's great to see fellow simmers utilizing physical copies of MSFS 2020. Don't worry, I'm here to help you get your activation screen back up without starting over.

Step 1: First off, you don't need to reinstall the entire set of DVDs. The content is already on your PC, so the activation step is all you need to address.

Step 2: Launch the Microsoft Flight Simulator program from your desktop or Start menu. If you're prompted for the activation code, you can enter it there. However, if you're not prompted, proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Within the sim, navigate to the top menu bar, where you'll find options such as "Profile," "Options," and "Marketplace." Select "Marketplace."

Step 4: In the Marketplace, find and click on the "Redeem Code" option. This will bring up the activation screen where you can enter your activation code from the boxed set.

  • Make sure you enter the code exactly as it appears, including any dashes.

Once you've entered the code, the simulator will verify it and activate your copy of MSFS 2020. You should be all set to enjoy your flight simming experience!

In case you encounter any issues, you may want to visit the official MSFS 2020 support page at They have a helpful knowledge base and support team that can assist you further.

If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please don't hesitate to ask. Happy flying!

Crispian Guest

Hi Ian
Many thanks for your reply. My problem is that the MSFS icon is not showing on my desktop or start menu so I am not sure if the programme completed loading as I did not enter the activation key?

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hi Crispian,

No problem at all, I can guide you through this next step. The activation key is not required for the software to install itself on your machine, so there's a good chance the installation was completed.

First, you can search for the program directly. Press the [Windows Key] + [S] to bring up the search bar, and then type in "Microsoft Flight Simulator". If the program is installed, it should appear in the search results. You can right-click on the program and choose "Pin to Start" or "Pin to taskbar" for easy access in the future.

If you don't see the program in the search results, there are a couple of additional steps you can take.

Step 1: First, check your Program Files. Navigate to your PC's Program Files folder (usually C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86)). Look for a folder named 'Microsoft' or 'Microsoft Flight Simulator' and see if the program exists there.

Step 2: If you can't find it in Program Files, try looking in the Windows Apps folder. Please note that this is a hidden folder, so you will need to show hidden folders first. The Windows Apps folder is usually located in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps. If you find the program here, you can create a shortcut to your desktop or start menu.

Step 3: If you can't find the MSFS 2020 files in either location, you might need to re-install the software. I know this isn't ideal, but sometimes the installation process can encounter issues that prevent it from completing correctly.

Remember, there's no need to worry about re-entering the DVDs. The MSFS 2020 installer should be able to detect the files already installed on your machine and skip to the point where you were interrupted.

Once you've found or reinstalled the program, you can follow the steps from my previous post to activate your copy of MSFS 2020.

If you have any other questions or need further assistance, I'm here to help. Don't hesitate to ask. Enjoy your flights!

Crispian Guest

Hi Ian thank you for you reply. I am slightly frustrated. I cannot find the files you mention in your last reply and so I thought I should go for the reinstall option. Now every time I try and run disk 1 it takes me to the microsoft store page and won't install. I cannot see where on the store to activate it. So I deleted all the installed files thinking that it might then see they were missing and install, but the same thing happened, it just takes me to the microsoft store. Does it think I have an illegal copy (I don't) and therefore won't install it?

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hi Crispian,

Your frustration is completely understandable. This sort of thing can be vexing, but don't worry, we'll get you sorted out.

It sounds like the installer might be trying to verify your copy by checking the Microsoft Store. It doesn't necessarily mean that it believes your copy is illegitimate, but rather, this can be a common issue when the installed files are not properly recognized.

Here's a possible workaround:

  1. Disconnect your PC from the internet. This should prevent the installer from attempting to validate the installation through the Microsoft Store.
  2. Once you are disconnected, try running the Disk 1 installer again. With no internet connection, the installer should proceed with the local installation using the files from your DVDs.
  3. After the installation begins, you can reconnect to the internet. If the installer prompts you for an activation key at any point, enter the key from your boxed set.

If this method doesn't work, another option is to install via Xbox App. This might seem a bit out of left field, but the Microsoft Flight Simulator is tied closely with the Xbox infrastructure, and the Xbox app has a better understanding of how to handle the installation process.

Here are the steps:

  1. If you don't have it already, download and install the Xbox App from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Once installed, sign in with your Microsoft account (the same one you'd use for the Microsoft Store).
  3. Within the Xbox App, search for "Microsoft Flight Simulator" and attempt to install it from there.

It should recognize that you have the files on your PC and proceed with the installation without requiring another download. If it asks for an activation key, use the one from your boxed set.

Remember, these are just potential workarounds, and they may not work for everyone. If these methods still don't resolve the issue, I recommend reaching out to the official MSFS 2020 support via They'll be able to provide more targeted assistance.

I hope this helps, Crispian. I know how much you want to get into the cockpit and start flying. Hang in there, and let me know how you get on.

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