Invalid Product Key Error Occurs During Software Activation

Published: 12 Feb 2013
Last Modified Date: 09 Jun 2022


When you try to activate Tableau Server or Tableau Desktop, one of the following errors occur:

Activation failed


Invalid Product Key


The product key is invalid. To avoid a mistyped key, copy the product key directly from the Tableau Customer Portal or from your Tableau Invoice. Unspecified exception <exception_number>

Or (specific for Tableau Prep)

This product key doesn't apply to Tableau Prep. Enter a different product key or contact your Customer Account representative.


  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Prep


Follow the steps below:
  1. Copy the product key directly from Tableau Customer Portal (under "My Keys") or from your invoice.  If you do not see any Tableau Desktop Creator keys in the Tableau Customer Portal and only see Tableau Server keys or Tableau Cloud seats, new purchases often do not need Desktop product keys and LBLM (signing in to a server) can be used to activate.
  2. Paste the product key into the activation window (the key should start with "TD" or "TC" for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep), making sure that:
    • There are no additional spaces before or after the product key.
    • A dash is added after every 4 characters (for example: XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX)
  3. Select Activate.
If you still experience the error, check the description on the key in the Customer Portal.  
  • If the description says Creator - Desktop, the key is to be activated on Tableau Desktop only (key will start with "TC").
  • If the description says Creator - Server, the key is to be activated on Tableau Server only (key will start with "TS").
  • If no Creator - Desktop keys are present, try activating by signing in to your Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud Site.
Tableau Server only
Ensure that the Run as User has the correct permissions on the computer running Tableau Server. For more information, see Required Run As User Account Settings.

Tableau Desktop/Prep only:
A key must start with TC order to activate Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep.  A Tableau Desktop key starting with TD, will not activate the Tableau Prep product.
Tableau product keys beginning with "TP" were issued to be used alongside the Tableau legacy Desktop keys starting with "TD".  All product keys beginning with "TP" have expired.

NOTE: Tableau Prep on the Web is newly introduced and only available in Tableau Cloud or Tableau Server 2020.4.


Typically this error message occurs because extra spaces are inserted before or after the product key,  the product key has been mistyped, or the license key entered is for the wrong product.

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