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8 ways to boot into Windows 10 Safe Mode

If you have used Windows 10 for a while, you might have noticed that pressing the F8 or the SHIFT + F8 keys on your keyboard to enter Safe Mode no longer work. These methods stopped working because the Windows 10 start procedure became faster than ever before. However, that does not mean that Windows 10 has no Safe Mode. It is just that to get to it you have to follow other procedures. Here are all the ways you can start Windows 10 in Safe Mode:

First, a video on booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode

When you boot into 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. This mode makes it easy to troubleshoot problems because it does not load things that can make Windows crash. If you do not want to read a large article with plenty of instructions, you can view the video below, which details four of the methods found in our tutorial:

Four ways to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode

If you want to know all the methods that you can use to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode, read this tutorial to the end. First, we cover what to do when you can no longer log into Windows 10, and then what you can do when you can log into Windows 10. If you cannot log into Windows 10, read methods 1 to 4. If you can log into Windows 10, read methods 5 to 7. The eighth method works only on computers with old hardware.

1. Use "Shift + Restart" on the Windows 10 Sign In screen

If you cannot log into Windows 10, but you can get to the Sign In screen, press and hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard. With this key still pressed, click or tap the Power button and, in the menu that opens, click Restart.

Boot into Windows 10 Safe Mode from the Sign In screen

Windows 10 restarts and asks you to select an option. Choose Troubleshoot.

Troubleshooting Windows 10

On the Troubleshoot screen, go to Advanced options.

Accessing the advanced troubleshooting options

On the Advanced options screen, choose Startup Settings. Depending on your Windows 10 computer, you may not see this option at first. If you do not, click or tap the link that says "See more recovery options."

Advanced troubleshooting options

Finally, click or tap the Startup Settings option.

Windows 10 Startup Settings

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

Windows 10 Startup Settings

After Windows 10 restarts one more time, you can choose which boot options you want to be enabled. To get into Safe Mode, you have three different options:

  • Standard Safe Mode - press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard to start it
  • Safe Mode with Networking - press 5 or F5
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt - press either 6 or F6
How to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode

Log into Windows 10 Safe Mode with a user account that has administrator permissions, and perform the changes you want.

2. Interrupt the normal boot process of Windows 10 three times in a row

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 Windows 10 enters the Automatic Repair mode, the first thing you see is a screen that tells you that the operating system is "Preparing Automatic Repair."

Preparing Automatic Windows 10 Repair

Then, you may be asked to choose an account to continue. Choose an account that has administrator permissions, and type its password. If you are not asked this information, skip to the next step.

Choosing an account to log in

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

Diagnosing your Windows 10 PC

On the "Automatic Repair" screen, press the "Advanced options" button.

Accessing the advanced troubleshooting options

Then, choose Troubleshoot.

Troubleshooting Windows 10

From here on, the steps you have to take are the same as those we have shown in the first method from this guide. Follow the path "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."

3. Use a Windows 10 installation drive and the Command Prompt

If you have a Windows 10 setup 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 this tutorial on another PC: How to create Windows 10 installation media (on a USB stick) or download a free ISO file. 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 Next.

The Windows 10 Setup

Click or tap on the link that says "Repair your computer" on the bottom left corner of the screen.

Repairing your Windows 10 computer

When asked what option you prefer, choose Troubleshoot.

Troubleshooting Windows 10

On the "Advanced options" screen, click or tap "Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting)."

Starting the Command Prompt

Inside the Command Prompt window, type the command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal. Press Enter on your keyboard and, after a moment, it tells you that "The operation completed successfully."

Activating Safe Mode from the Command Prompt

Close the Command Prompt and choose to Continue on the next screen.

Continuing to Windows 10

After your PC reboots, Windows 10 starts into Safe Mode. Log in with a user account that has administrator permissions, and perform the changes you want.

IMPORTANT: The problem with this method is that it tells Windows 10 to enter Safe Mode automatically, every time you start it until you tell it not to. To disable this setting, and get Windows 10 to boot normally again, run the same procedure one more time and type the command: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot.

4. Boot from a Windows 10 flash USB recovery drive

In Windows 10 you can create a system recovery USB drive. Since your PC may not be working, create this USB recovery drive on another computer with Windows 10.

Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Once you have created a USB recovery drive, use it to boot your Windows 10 PC or device and, when you are asked to load its content, do so. The first screen asks you to choose the layout for the keyboard. Select the one you want to use, or if you do not see it listed, click or tap "See more keyboard layouts" to get the complete list of available layouts.

Choosing the keyboard layout for the recovery drive

After you have chosen the keyboard layout that you want to use, on the "Choose an option" screen, go to Troubleshoot.

Troubleshooting Windows 10

The next steps you need to take to boot into Safe Mode are the same ones we showed in the first method from this guide, which is to follow this path: "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."

5. Use the System Configuration tool (msconfig.exe) to enable Safe Mode

If you can log into Windows 10, one of the easiest methods to boot into Safe Mode is to use the System Configuration tool. Many users know this tool by its file name: msconfig.exe.

In the search field from the taskbar, enter the words "system configuration." Then click or tap the System Configuration shortcut. Other ways to start this tool are described here: 8 ways to start System Configuration in Windows (all versions).

Searching for System Configuration (msconfig)

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 OK.

The System Configuration (msconfig) app in Windows 10

Windows 10 tells you that you need to restart your computer 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 automatically boots into Safe Mode.

System Configuration prompt

After Windows 10 reboots, it goes straight into Safe Mode.

6. Use "Shift + Restart" on the Windows 10 Start Menu

Another way of getting into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the options found on the Start Menu. First, press and hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard. With that key still pressed, click the Start button, then Power, followed by Restart.

Starting the Safe Mode from the Start Menu

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

Troubleshooting Windows 10

Next, you have to follow the same steps as those we have shown in the first method from this guide. In short, go to "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."

7. Use the Settings app to access the Recovery options and start Safe Mode

If you can log into Windows 10, another way to boot into Safe Mode is from the Settings app. Open Settings (Windows + I) and head to the Update & security section.

The Settings app from Windows 10

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 the Restart now button.

Windows 10 Recovery options

After Windows 10 restarts, choose the Troubleshoot option.

Troubleshooting Windows 10

Then, you have to follow the same steps as those we have shown in the first method from this guide. In short, you must go to "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."

8. Use F8 or Shift + F8 (does not work when using UEFI BIOS and SSD drives)

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 into 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 does not work, even though they are correct commands, supported by Windows 10.

The SHIFT and F8 keys on the keyboard

This official blog post from Microsoft explains that this behavior is caused by their work in creating a fast boot procedure. Both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have the fastest boot times ever. To quote Steve Sinofsky:

"Windows 8 has a problem – it really can boot up too quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there is no longer time for anything to interrupt boot. When you turn on a Windows 8 PC, there's no longer long enough to detect keystrokes like F2 or F8, much less time to read a message such as "Press F2 for Setup." For the first time in decades, you will no longer be able to interrupt boot and tell your PC to do anything different than what it was already expecting to do."

If you have a modern PC with a UEFI BIOS and a fast SSD drive, there is 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.

Which method do you prefer for booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode?

Windows 10 is a fast operating system with a fast boot process. Getting into Safe Mode might not work the way it did in older Windows operating systems, but the methods available are similar to the ones in Windows 8.1. Try some of the methods we shared and let us know which ones worked, and which you prefer most. Comment below and let's discuss.