The term "keygen" refers to a type of program that allows the user to generate a product key for a specific type of software, allowing the user to gain access to the program. Software developers often create these programs to allow customers who make bulk licensing purchases to active multiple copies of the software more easily.
A keygen program typically functions with a specific program, though in some cases it may work with multiple programs within the same product family or software suite. As such, when the user launches the program, she may need to choose the specific program for which she wants to generate the product key. She then copies the key, which may appear as a random alphanumeric sequence, and pastes it into the product registration field in that program. Companies that purchase bulk software licenses commonly use keygen programs to manage the distribution of the codes to employees, as these programs create the code upon request rather than requiring the owner to keep track of a large list of keys.
In some cases, software hackers may create illegitimate keygen programs to allow illegal access to programs. This process involves analyzing the code of the program and modifying the appropriate aspects of it to allow for the unauthorized product key, a process known as cracking. Most companies do not approve of this process, with some regions also enforcing copyright laws to prosecute users or creators.