Windows 7 Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a troubleshooting option that limits Windows 7 operation to basic functions. Safe Mode starts Windows with only core drivers and services. Safe Mode with Networking starts windows with only core drivers, plus networking support. To start your computer in Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking, follow the instructions below.

What is Safe Mode?

Safe mode is a troubleshooting option for Windows that starts your computer in a limited state. Only the basic files and drivers necessary to run Windows are started. The words Safe Mode appear in the corners of your monitor to identify which Windows mode you’re using.

If an existing problem doesn’t reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers as possible causes. If you don’t know the cause of the problem, you can use the process of elimination to help you find the problem. Try starting all of the programs you commonly use, including the programs in your Startup folder, one by one to see if a program might be the cause of the problem.

Start Windows 7 in Safe Mode

To begin entering Windows 7 Safe Mode, turn on or restart your PC.

  1. Immediately after the computer is powered on or restarted (usually after you hear your computer beep), tap the F8 key in 1 second intervals.
  2. After your computer displays hardware information and runs a memory test, the Advanced Boot Options menu will appear.
Start Windows 7 in Safe Mode

If not, you may have missed the short window of opportunity to press F8 in the previous step and Windows 7 is probably now continuing to boot normally assuming it’s able to. If this is the case, just restart your computer and try pressing F8 again.

Here you are presented with three variations of Windows 7 Safe Mode you may enter:

  • Safe Mode - This is the default option and is usually the best choice. This mode will load only the absolute minimum processes necessary to start Windows 7.
  • Safe Mode with Networking - This option loads the same processes as Safe Mode but also includes those that allow the networking functions in Windows 7 to work. You should choose this option if you think you may need to access the Internet or your local network while troubleshooting in Safe Mode.
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt - This version of Safe Mode also loads a minimum set of processes but starts the Command Prompt instead of Explorer, the usual user interface. This is a valuable option if the Safe Mode option didn’t work.

Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight either the Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, or Safe Mode with Command Prompt option and press Enter.

Booting into Windows Safe Mode often requires holding down or repeatedly pressing the F8 key during the POST, the process your computer goes through before it boots into Windows. Sometimes, however, pressing the F8 key in any way or at any time just won’t work.

Luckily, Windows 7 offers you the opportunity to enter Safe Mode the next time you restart your computer. In addition, there are various options available using this method that are not available using the F8 method. Read on to learn how to force Windows 7 into Safe Mode the next time your computer restarts.

Start Windows 7 Safe Mode without F8

To restart you computer into Windows 7 Safe Mode, begin by clicking on Start and then Run. If your Windows 7 Start menu doesn’t have the Run option showing, hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and press the R key. Whichever method you use, you should now be looking at the Run dialog box. Type msconfig into the run box and click OK.

Restart Windows 7 in Safe Mode

You should now be looking at the System Configuration window. Click on the Boot tab to see all of the boot options Windows 7 has to offer.

Boot Tab on System Configuration

Locate the section titled Boot Option on the System Configuration window. Here you can check the option titled Safe Mode. Notice that Minimal Safe Mode is the default Safe Mode option.

Safe Mode Under Boot Options

The Minimal Safe Mode option is the default because it is the same kind of Safe Mode you get using the F8 method. Once you have chosen your options, click the OK button. Windows 7 will then ask if you want to Restart Now or Exit Without Restarting. Click the Restart Now button and your computer will restart in Safe Mode.

Windows 7 Safe Mode

Turn Safe Mode Back Off

Once you are done fixing whatever you were working on, you’ll probably want to turn safe mode off and go back to normal mode. Just open up msconfig the same way as above, and then on the Boot tab you’ll uncheck the “Safe boot” checkbox.