Want to enter Safe Mode on your Windows PC? If you are unable to boot your computer normally, you can try entering Safe Mode, a diagnostic mode for Windows that allows you to troubleshoot problems that prevent it from booting properly.
In Safe Mode, Windows loads only the services and drivers it needs most to run. All other normal Windows settings and startup programs are disabled so that the user can fix the problem on their computer.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to enter Safe Mode in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1 and Windows 10.
Please note that if you have installed a driver or have recently changed the configuration of your computer, you can try Last Known Good Configuration before entering Safe Mode in Windows 7, Vista, and XP.
Last Known Good Configuration loads the latest working version of Windows. However, it is replaced every time you log in, so if a problem occurs, be sure to try this option BEFORE logging in again.
Last Known is no longer enabled in Windows 8 and Windows 10. Instead, they have other options such as Refresh, Reset (Reinstall), Restore, and so on. I’ll explain more in the Windows 8/10 section below.
Also note that there are three types of Safe Mode, so read the descriptions below to see which one works best for you.
Safe Mode is the main Windows boot option with a graphical user interface that most people should usually choose when troubleshooting problems with their computer.
Safe Mode with Networking – If you need to access the Internet or the network in Safe Mode, select this option. This mode is useful when you need to fix a problem that requires an internet connection so that you can download updates, drivers, or other files to help solve your problem.
Safe mode with command line – this mode is loaded only with the MS DOS command line. This is useful if you need to run a DOS command such as fixboot or chkdsk.
Safe Mode in Windows XP / Vista / 7
To enter Safe Mode in Windows XP, Vista, or 7, restart your computer and then press and hold the F8 key to open the Windows Advanced Options Menu. Scroll down to Safe Mode using the arrow keys and press Enter.
Please note that sometimes if you press and hold the F8 key some computers will beep annoyingly, so in this case just hold F8 key continuously during boot.
If you still cannot enter Safe Mode, you can try powering off your computer to turn it off and then back on. If Windows shuts down unexpectedly, it usually automatically brings up the Advanced Boot Options menu. If that doesn’t work, you can read my previous post on going into safe mode if F8 doesn’t work. However, this method requires you to be able to log into Windows in order to tell it to boot into Safe Mode the next time it restarts.
Safe Mode in Windows 8/10 h2>
In Windows 8 and Windows 10, the process for entering Safe Mode is completely different. The F8 key no longer works because the download process is too fast.
The only way to enter Safe Mode is to boot into System Recovery Options, where you can perform various troubleshooting tasks, including starting in Safe Mode.
I’ve already written about how to boot from the Windows 8 System Recovery Options screen, but the process is slightly different for Windows 10, so I’ll mention it here. In Windows 10, there are two ways to get to the recovery options screen. First, you can click on the new Start button, which is back in a different form, and then hold down the SHIFT key and press the Power button.
Hold down the SHIFT key and click Restart. The other way is the same as in Windows 8, but looks a little different. Click the “Start” button and then click “Settings” as shown above.
This will bring up a new settings dialog, which replaces the PC settings dialog in Windows 8. Here you will click Update and Restore.
You will now see options to update your computer, reinstall everything, or restart in advanced startup mode.
At this point, the process for entering Safe Mode in Windows 8 or Windows 10 is the same. You will now see three options: Continue, Troubleshoot, and Turn Off Computer.
Now, just follow the directions in my article on booting in safe mode in Windows 8. You basically click Troubleshoot and navigate from there. Windows 8 and Windows 10 are also much smarter than previous versions and usually automatically invoke recovery options if an issue is found during boot.
If you have any questions about going to Safe Mode in any version of Windows, feel free to leave comments. Enjoy!