Windows 8 Start in Safe Mode

One of the most common steps when troubleshooting a PC is to boot into safe mode. Are you struggling to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8 or 8.1? For a long time this has been achieved by pressing the F8 key, this all changes with Windows 8 and its Automatic Repair mode. But what if we want Safe Mode?

You can still have Safe Mode, however, it is buried deep into the recovery options of Windows 8. While just mashing the F8 key as we all know will boot you into automatic recovery mode, you can still manually access the recovery options by pressing the Shift + F8 key combination. Even more simple, however, is the option to just hold the SHIFT key and click Restart at the login screen, or even within Windows.

Have you tried pressing Shift + F8 and they don’t work? That’s because a lot has changed with the boot procedure in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. The boot has become so fast that it literally cannot be interrupted by any of your keypresses. Here are some ways in which you can boot into Safe Mode, that don’t involve any special hacks or manual configuration.

Windows 8 Boot in Safe Mode

Booting Into Safe Mode on Windows 8

When you start Windows 8 in Safe Mode, you start it with only the processes absolutely necessary for Windows to be usable. If Windows 8 does start properly in Safe Mode, you can then troubleshoot to see what driver or service might be causing the problem that’s preventing Windows from starting normally.

There are a number of ways to get into Safe Mode, and these ways depend on whether or not you can boot the computer, or whether you can login to the computer. The first one is the simplest.

If your PC boots to the Login Screen

If you can boot the PC to the login screen, you can hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on Restart to be taken to the troubleshooting option screen where you can enable Safe Mode. Keep reading below for those details.

If Your Computer Doesn’t Boot - use Recovery Flash Drive

If you have installation media for Windows 8.1, start (or boot) your computer from the installation media. Insert the DVD or USB flash drive and restart your computer. If you see a message asking you to “Press any key to boot from DVD,” do so.

If you don’t see the message, you might need to change the boot order in your computer’s BIOS settings so that it first starts from the DVD or USB. When you see the Install Windows page, tap or click Repair your computer to start the Windows Recovery Environment.

If you have access to another computer running the same version of Windows, you can create a USB recovery drive and boot the computer from that, which will take you into the recovery screens and give you access to Safe Mode.

If You Can’t Boot to the Login Screen

When your PC can’t actually boot to the login screen, you’ll usually be presented with the Recovery screen. If you don’t see this screen, you can try to hold the SHIFT key and then mash on the F8 key, which will sometimes boot you into the new advanced “recovery mode,” where you can choose the advanced repair options button.

The only problem is that a lot of PCs don’t allow you to do this, especially newer PCs.

Using the Advanced Troubleshooting Tools to Enable Safe Mode

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. Once you get to the troubleshooting screen using a system repair flash drive, or just by clicking the advanced repair options, you’ll be taken to this screen, where you can choose to Troubleshoot your PC.

You will need to click on the Troubleshoot button.

Windows 8 Troubleshoot

Now select Advanced Options.

Windows 8 Advanced Boot Options

Now choose the Windows Startup Settings option, by the looks of things we were never meant to find Safe Mode.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

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.

Safe Mode in Windows 8

Like magic, when your PC reboots you will be able to boot into Safe Mode from the familiar looking Advanced Boot Options screen.

Getting To Safe Mode on Windows 8

You have a second option, however, this requires you to be booted into Windows already. Press the Win+R key combination and type msconfig in the run box and hit enter.

Windows 8 msconfig

Switch over to the boot tab, and click on the Safe Boot check box.

Windows 8 Safe Mode Options

You can also choose the type of Safe Mode you want to boot into:

  • Minimal is normal safe mode.
  • Alternate Shell is safe mode with command prompt.
  • Network is safe mode with networking.

The Active Directory option pertains to restoring a server that is a Domain Controller for your network. Once you have chosen your option click the ok button and restart your machine. You PC will be booted into Safe Mode automatically.

If you restart you PC you will just keep getting booted into Safe Mode, to stop this open msconfig again and uncheck the Safe Boot option, then hit the ok button. Finally Restart your Machine. That’s all there is to it.