The LIC File Extension

By Lara Webster

LIC (Software License File) extensions are not as common as most other file types. The files serve a very specific purpose and are commonly used commercially in the distribution of software or shareware. In essence, an LIC file exists to hold the registration information and license key for a computer program.


LIC files are used to track the use of a specific software or shareware. When a trial version of software is downloaded by an Internet user, an LIC file is downloaded to his computer. The LIC file lets creators limit the number of days, or uses, that someone can use a trial version before he is required to pay for the full version of the software. LIC files can also be a part of paid software, serving as proof on your hard drive that you own the software.


An LIC file typically is distributed from a software or shareware creator to a consumer. The file is automatically downloaded when a user initiates a trial version or full purchase of the creator's software. You do not have to do anything special to get the LIC file necessary to run with a specific shareware program; these files are automatically distributed as a part of the download package. Software that uses LIC files includes AutoCAD and Microsoft ActiveX.


The LIC file downloaded with software or shareware contains a license key for your program. This license key must communicate with your registered program for it to run on your computer. In some cases, the license key will allow a group of networked computers to access the same software. According to Pareto Logic, an LIC file usually begins with a server line, next includes a vendor line and ends with a feature or increment line.

Compatible Operating Systems

Because LIC files are used in a broad array of software and shareware programs, both Mac and Windows operating systems are compatible with the file type. Both Mac and PCs running Windows are able to store and open LIC files. If you need to open a LIC file, you must do so in a basic text program such as NotePad or WordPad.