When you’re having issues with a Windows computer, one of the first steps to troubleshooting is to boot into Windows’ Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a simple, stripped-down version of the operating system, loading only the most essential files and drivers. It’s a way of eliminating as many variables as possible, and to ensure that withe issue doesn’t originate at this most basic level. This is a great place to scan for malware, for instance.

Boot safe mode in windows 10

When you enter Safe Mode in Windows 10, the operating system loads a minimal user interface, with only the essential services and drivers needed for it to function. Here’s how it looks:

1Use the System Configuration tool (msconfig.exe)

One of the easiest methods to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the System Configurationtool. Many users know this tool by its executable name: msconfig.exe.

The fastest way to launch System Configuration in Windows 10 is to use the Run window. To do that, simultaneously press on the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. Then,

write msconfig in the Open text field, and press Enter or OK.

Another way of opening the System Configuration Tool is to use Cortana. In the search field from your taskbar, enter the words ”system configuration.” Then click or tap on the System Configuration shortcut.

In the System Configuration window, click or tap the Boot tab. In the Boot options section, select the “Safe boot” option. Finally, click or tap on OK.

Windows 10 tells you that you need to reboot your PC for the new setting to take effect. If you still have work to do, you can select to “Exit without restart. If not, you can restart now, and your device will automatically boot into Safe Mode.

After Windows 10 reboots, it goes straight into Safe Mode, where the first thing you’ll see is that Microsoft’s own Edge web browser doesn’t work. Fortunately, you can still use the old Internet Explorer.

2Use the “Shift + Restart” combination

Another way of getting into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the Shift + Restart combination. Open the Start menu and click or tap on the Power button.

Then, while keeping the Shift key pressed, click or tap on Restart.

Note that you can also use the Shift + Restart combination from the Sign In screen: click or tap Power, press and hold Shift and then click or tap Restart.

Then, Windows 10 reboots and asks you to select an option. Choose Troubleshoot.

Then, on the Troubleshoot screen, select Advanced options.

On the Advanced options screen, choose Startup Settings.

Windows 10 says that you can restart your device to change advanced boot options, including enabling Safe Mode. Press Restart.

After Windows 10 reboots, you can choose which boot options you want to be enabled. To get into Safe Mode, you have three different options.

To enable Safe Mode press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard, to enable “Safe Mode with Networking,”press 5 or F5, and to enable “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” press either 6 or F6.

3Use the Settings app to access the Recovery options

To get into Safe Mode in Windows 10, you can also use the Recovery options available from the Settingsapp. Open Settings (Windows + I) and head to the Update & security section.

On the left side of the Settings window, press Recovery.

On the right side of the app, in the Advanced startup section, click or tap on the Restart now button.

After Windows 10 restarts, you’ll have to follow the same steps as those we’ve shown you in the second method from this guide. In short, you must go to “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart”. Then, press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to start in Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

4Boot from a recovery drive

In Windows 10 you can use the Recovery Drive app to create a system recovery USB drive. Once you have created a USB recovery drive, use it to boot your Windows 10 device and, when you’re asked to load its content, do so.

The first screen asks you to choose the layout for your keyboard. Select the one you want to use, or if you don’t see it listed, press on “See more keyboard layouts” to get the complete list of available layouts.

Once you’ve chosen your keyboard layout, on the “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot.

The next steps you need to take to boot into Safe Mode are the same ones we showed in the second method from this guide, which is to follow this path: “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.” Then, press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard boot into minimal Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

5Use a Windows 10 installation drive and the Command Prompt

If you have a Windows 10 installation DVD or USB memory stick lying around, or if you can create one right now, you can use it to boot your broken PC with Windows 10 into Safe Mode. To create a Windows 10 installation drive, follow the steps from this tutorial: How to download Windows 10 Creators Update and create your own installation media. Then use it to boot your broken Windows 10 PC from it and wait for the installation environment to load. Choose the language and keyboard layout you prefer and click or tap on Next.

Next, click or tap on the link that says “Repair your computer” on the bottom left corner of the screen.

Click or tap on Troubleshoot.

On the “Advanced options” screen, click/tap on “Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting).”

Now Command prompt will load. Inside it, write the command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal. Then press Enter on your keyboard.

After a moment, Command Prompt tells you that “The operation [was] completed successfully.”

Then close the Command Prompt and choose to Continue on the next screen.

After your PC reboots, Windows 10 will automatically boot into Safe Mode.

6Interrupt the normal boot process of your Windows 10 PC

If Windows 10 fails to boot normally three times over, the fourth time it enters by default in an Automatic Repair mode. Using this mode, you can boot into Safe Mode. To trigger the Automatic Repair mode, you must interrupt the normal boot process three consecutive times: use the reset or the power button on your Windows 10 PC to stop it during boot, before it finishes loading Windows 10. If you use the power button, you might have to keep it pressed for at least 4 seconds to force the power off. When your Windows 10 PC enters the Automatic Repair mode, the first thing you see is a screen that tells you that the operating system is “Preparing Automatic Repair.”

Wait for Windows 10 to try to make an automatic diagnosis of your PC.

Then, on the “Automatic Repair” screen, press the “Advanced options” button.

On the next screen, choose Troubleshoot.

From here on, the steps you’ll have to make are the same as those we’ve shown in the second method from this guide. Follow the path “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.” Then, press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard boot into minimal Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

7Use F8 or Shift + F8 (doesn’t work when using UEFI BIOS & SSDs)

In Windows 7, you were able to press F8 just before Windows got loaded, to open the Advanced Boot Options window, where you could choose to start Windows 7 in Safe Mode.

Some websites advise you to press Shift+F8, just before Windows 10 starts loading so that you make it launch the recovery mode, from where you can boot into Safe Mode. The problem is that most times, Shift+F8 and F8 doesn’t work, even though they are correct commands, supported by Windows 10.

8Boot safe mode in windows 10 using advance options

But the old-fashioned way to get into Safe Mode—booting the PC and pressing F8 at the exact right moment—seldom works on PCs running Windows 10. These techniques will:

If you can successfully boot into Windows, booting into Safe Mode is relatively easy—if you know the trick.

  1. Click or tap the Start buttonand then the Power button. Hold down the Shift key when you select Restart.

  2. In the resulting, full-screen menu, select Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings.

  3. In the Startup Settings screen, tap the Restart button. The PC will reboot, and bring you to a Startup Settings screen.
  4. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select Enable Safe Mode or Enable Safe Mode with Networking.

But what if things are so bad that you can’t successfully boot the operating system?

Try booting anyway. If you can get to the login screen, you’ll find a power icon in the lower-right corner. The instructions above work there.

But what if you can’t get to the login screen? In that case, chances are that Windows is so messed up that it couldn’t boot into Safe Mode anyway. But here’s a trick that might work:

You’ll need a Windows 10 Recovery Drive, which hopefully you created while your PC was working. Boot the Recovery Drive and select your keyboard layout. Then select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt. At the command prompt, enter these three lines, making sure to hit Enter at the end of each one:

  • c:
  • bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
  • exit

Select Turn off your PC. Boot the computer and repeatedly press and release F8 until the Advanced Boot Options menu pops up. Then you can select Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking.

This official blog post from Microsoft (Designing for PCs that boot faster than ever before) explains that this behavior is caused by their work in creating a very fast boot procedure.

If you have modern PC with a UEFI BIOS and a fast SSD drive, there’s no way you can interrupt the boot procedure with your keypresses. On older PCs, with a classic BIOS and no SSD drive, pressing these keys might still work though.

Safe Mode in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Safe Mode in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 is not too different from the Safe Mode found in earlier versions of Windows.

The operating system still loads only the most basic drivers and services, so that it can display a minimal useful interface. The only important difference is that the minimum screen resolution used by Safe Modehas risen from 800×600 pixels to 1024×768 pixels.

9Use the System Configuration Tool (msconfig.exe) – works in Windows 8 & 8.1

The easiest method for booting into Safe Mode is to use the System Configuration tool, also known as msconfig.exe.

Go to the Boot tab and, in the Boot options section check the box that says “Safe boot”. Then, click or tap OK.

You are informed that you need to restart your computer. Click Restart or Exit without restart depending on whether you want to restart now or later.

At the next restart, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 start in Safe Mode.

10Use Shift + Restart – works in Windows 8 & 8.1

Another method is to press the Power button at the Windows login screen or in the Settings charm. Then, press and hold the SHIFT key on your keyboard and click Restart.

Windows asks you to choose an option. Press Troubleshoot.

In the Troubleshoot screen, press Advanced options.

In the Advanced options screen, press Startup Settings.

You are informed that you are about to restart in order to change several Windows options, including enabling Safe Mode. Press Restart.

Your computer or device restarts again and displays nine startup settings, including Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking and Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Press the F4 key on your keyboard, to enable Safe Mode, F5 to enable Safe Mode with Networking and F6 to enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 now boot according to the setting you selected.

11Boot from a System Recovery CD/DVD – works only in Windows 8

In Windows 8, but not in Windows 8.1, you can create a system recovery CD or DVD.

Once you have that disc created, boot from it. When asked to press any key to load its content, do so.

First, you are asked to choose your keyboard layout. Press the layout you want to use. If you want to browse through the available options, press “See more keyboard layouts” until you find the one you want to use.

Then, the Choose an option screen is shown.

From here on, the steps are identical to those shown for method 2.

12Boot from a System Recovery Memory Stick – works in Windows 8 & 8.1

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 you can use the Recovery Media Creator to create a system recovery drive on a USB flash Drive.

Boot from the USB memory stick and follow the same instructions as in method 3.

13Use F8 or Shift + F8 (doesn’t work when using UEFI BIOS & SSDs)

In Windows 7, you were able to press F8 just before Windows got loaded, to open the Advanced Boot Options window, where you could choose to start Windows 7 in Safe Mode.

Some websites advise you to press Shift+F8, just before Windows 8 or 8.1 starts loading so that you make it start the recovery mode, from where you can boot into Safe Mode. The problem is that, most times, Shift+F8 and F8 don’t work, even though they are correct commands, supported by Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Boot safe mode in windows 7

It is the same process as in windows 10 and windows 8.

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