Windows 10 Safe Mode

If you’ve used Windows 10 for a while, you might have noticed that the "old ways" of booting into Safe Mode no longer work. By that, we mean trying things like pressing the F8 or Shift + F8 keys on your keyboard while booting. These methods stopped working in normal cases because the boot procedure became faster than ever before. Such actions don’t work. But that doesn’t mean Windows 10 has no Safe Mode.

Safe mode starts Windows 10 in a basic state, using a limited set of files and drivers. It can help you troubleshoot problems on your PC. For example, if the problem doesn’t happen in safe mode, you’ll know default settings and basic device drivers aren’t causing the issue. It’s just that to get to it, you have to follow other procedures. Let’s take a closer look and see how you can get into Safe Mode in Windows 10.

Restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode

If you can access any of the Power options described below, you can also restart in Safe Mode by holding down the [Shift] key on the keyboard when you click Restart.

Using the Start Menu

This is the way to restart Windows 10 that every user should know about. Simply open the Start menu, click Power and select Restart.

Safe Mode from Start Menu

Using Tablet Mode

You can also restart Windows 10 in Tablet mode, without using the Start menu. Turn on Tablet mode by opening the Action Centre — click the speech bubble in the Notification Area and click the Tablet mode button. Look at the bottom left of the screen, just above the Start button, and you’ll see a Power button. Click it to see the usual Sleep, Shut down and Restart options.

Safe Mode from Tablet Mode

From the Login Screen

You can also restart Windows 10 from the login screen, which you can access instantly by pressing the [Windows] + [L] keys on the keyboard. Click the login background image to display the usual username and password request, but now click the Power icon at the bottom right of the screen. Be sure to save any open documents before restarting in this way, although Windows 10 should remind you before going any further.

Safe Mode from Login Screen

Safe Mode with System Configuration Tool

One of the easiest methods to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the System Configuration tool. 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 the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. Then, write msconfig in the text field and press Enter or OK.

Windows 10 System Configuration Tool

Another way of opening the System Configuration Tool is to use Cortana. In Cortana’s search field, enter the words "system configuration". Then click or tap on the System Configuration Tool app.

Windows 10 Boot Safe Mode

Switch to the Boot tab and, in the Boot options section, select the Safe boot option. Then, click or tap on OK.

Repair Windows 10 Safe Mode

Windows 10 will tell you that you need to reboot your device in order 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.

Windows 10 Start in Safe Mode

Windows 10 Safe Mode

Then, Windows 10 will reboot and ask you to select an option.

Troubleshoot

Choose Troubleshoot. Then, on the Troubleshoot screen, select Advanced options.

Advanced options

On the Advanced options screen, choose Startup Settings.

Windows 10 Startup Settings

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

Restart in Safe Mode

After Windows 10 reboots, you can choose which boot options you want enabled. To get into Safe Mode, you have three different options. To enable Safe Mode press the F4 key on your keyboard, to enable Safe Mode with Networking press F5 and to enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt press F6.

Safe Mode if Windows doesn’t Load

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 the Windows 10 Recovery Drive, which you should make now, while your PC is still healthy. You’ll need a flash drive that you will use only for this purpose. Any files already on that drive will be deleted. To create the USB Recovery Drive, plug in the flash drive, open Control Panel’s Recovery tool, click Create a recovery drive, and follow the prompts.

Windows 10 Recovery Drive

You might want to test this before you’re in a difficult situation: 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.