Getting into Windows Safe Mode

Note: Accessing Safe Mode for Windows requires the use of a working keyboard. If the keyboard on your computer does not work, you will not be able to access Safe Mode.

Windows 10 users
Windows 8 users
Windows 7 and Vista users
Windows XP and 2000 users
Windows 98 and ME users
Windows 95 users

How to get out of Safe Mode.
Which Safe Mode option should I choose?
Unable to get into Windows Safe Mode

How to boot your phone into Safe Mode
Smartphone always boots into Safe Mode

Windows 10 Startup Settings Safe Mode optionsMicrosoft Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key, type Change advanced startup options, and then press Enter.
  2. Under the Recovery tab, select the Restart now option under Advanced startup.
  3. After a moment, you'll see a menu with three options, select Troubleshoot.
  4. Select Advanced options, Startup Settings, and then the Restart button.
  5. You should see a screen just like the one pictured to the right. Select your appropriate Safe Mode option by pressing the corresponding number on your keyboard.

Alternative method:

  1. Press the Windows key and the R key together to access the Run option.
  2. Type msconfig in the Open: field.
  3. In the System Configuration window, click on the Boot tab.
  4. On the bottom left, in the Boot options section, check the box for Safe boot.
  5. Select the Minimal option, then Apply, and then the OK.
  6. Restart the computer and it should load into Safe Mode.

Windows 10 boot screen

Note: If you use the above option to access Safe Mode, you need to follow the same steps and uncheck the Safe boot option when you're done. Otherwise, your computer will continue to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Windows 10 Startup Settings Safe Mode optionsMicrosoft Windows 8 users

  1. Press the Windows key, type Change advanced startup options, and then press Enter.
  2. Under the Recovery tab, select the Restart now option under Advanced startup.
  3. After a moment, you'll see a menu with three options, select Troubleshoot.
  4. Select Advanced options, Startup Settings, and then the Restart button.
  5. You should see a screen just like the one pictured to the right. Select your appropriate Safe Mode option by pressing the corresponding number on your keyboard.

Alternative method 1

Note: The following method will not work if you have a solid state drive (SSD). If you have an SSD, try the next section.

  1. When the computer is booting, press and hold the Shift key, and tap the F8 key repeatedly until the Recovery screen appears.
  2. Click the See advanced repair options option on the Recovery screen.
  3. On the Choose an option screen, select the Troubleshoot option.
  4. Select Advanced options, and then Windows Startup Settings.
  5. On the Windows Start Settings screen, click the Restart option.

Note: If you have trouble getting to the Recovery screen in step 1 above, you may have to try it several times, with several reboots of your computer.

When the computer restarts, you should see the standard Choose Advanced Options screen, similar to the example below. Use your arrow keys to move to Safe Mode and press Enter.


Choose Advanced Options for: Microsoft Windows 8
(Use the arrow keys to highlight your choice.)

Repair Your Computer

Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Enable Boot Logging
Enable low-resolution video
Debugging Mode
Disable automatic restart on system failure
Disable Driver Signature Enforcement
Disable Early Launch Anti-Malware Driver

Start Windows Normally

Description: Start Windows with only the core drivers and services. Use
when you cannot boot after installing a new device or driver.

Alternative method 2:

  1. Press the Windows key and the R key together to access the Run option.
  2. Type msconfig in the Open: field.
  3. In the System Configuration window, click on the Boot tab.
  4. On the bottom left, in the Boot options section, check the box for Safe boot.
  5. Select the Minimal option, then Apply, and then the OK.
  6. Restart the computer and it should load into Safe Mode.

System configuration Safe boot

Note: If you use the above option to access Safe Mode, you need to follow the same steps and uncheck the Safe boot option when you're done. Otherwise, your computer will continue to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Vista users

Tip: If you are running Safe Mode because you cannot get into Windows, you may want to first try loading the last known good configuration.

To get into the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Safe Mode, as the computer is booting, press and hold your F8 Key, which should bring up the Choose Advanced Options screen as shown below. Use your arrow keys to move highlight Safe Mode and press your Enter key.

Note: On some computers, if you press and hold a key as the computer is booting, you will get a stuck key message. If this occurs, continuously tap F8 upon startup rather than holding it.

Trouble Getting into Safe mode - If after several attempts you are unable to get the Windows Advanced Options Menu screen to come up by pressing F8, turn off your computer while it is loading into Windows. When the computer is turned on the next time, Windows should notice that the computer did not successfully boot and give you the Safe Mode screen like the one shown below.


Choose Advanced Options for: Microsoft Windows Vista
Please select an option:

Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Enable Boot Logging
Enable low-resolution video (640x480)
Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)
Directory Services Restore Mode
Debugging Mode
Disable automatic restart on system failure
Disable Driver Signature Enforcement

Start Windows Normally

Description: Start Windows with only the core drivers and services. Use
when you cannot boot after installing a new device or driver.

Once you're done in Safe Mode, if you want to get back into normal Windows, restart the computer. Click here to get additional information about getting out of Safe mode.

Alternative method:

  1. Press the Windows key and the R key together to access the Run option.
  2. Type msconfig in the Open: field.
  3. In the System Configuration window, click on the Boot tab.
  4. On the bottom left, in the Boot options section, check the box for Safe boot.
  5. Select the Minimal option, then Apply, and then the OK.
  6. Restart the computer and it should load into Safe Mode.

Msconfig system configuration safe boot

Note: If you use the above option to access Safe Mode, you need to follow the same steps and uncheck the Safe boot option when you're done. Otherwise, your computer will continue to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Windows XP and Windows 2000 users

Tip: If you are running Safe Mode because you cannot get into Windows, you may want to first try loading the last known good configuration.

To get into the Windows 2000 and XP Safe mode, as the computer is booting, press and hold your F8 Key, which should bring up the Windows Advanced Options Menu screen as shown below. Use your arrow keys to move to highlight the Safe Mode option and press your Enter key.

Note: On some computers, if you press and hold a key as the computer is booting, you will get a stuck key message. If this occurs, continuously tap F8 upon startup, rather than holding it.

Trouble Getting into Windows 2000 or Windows XP Safe mode - If after several attempts you are unable to get the Windows Advanced Options Menu screen to come up by pressing F8, turn off your computer while it is loading into Windows. When the computer is turned on the next time, Windows should notice that the computer did not successfully boot and give you the Safe Mode screen.


Windows Advanced Options Menu
Please select an option:

Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Networking
Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Enable Boot Logging
Enable VGA mode
Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked)
Directory Services Restore Mode (Windows domain controllers only)
Debugging Mode

Start Windows Normally
Reboot
Return to OS Choices Menu

Use the up and down arrow keys to move the highlight to your choice.

Once you're done in Safe Mode, if you want to get back into normal Windows, restart the computer. Click here to get additional information about getting out of Safe mode.

Windows 98 and Windows ME users

To get into Windows 98 and ME Safe Mode, press and hold either the F8 or Ctrl key as the computer is booting up. If done properly, you should see the "Windows 98 Startup Menu" or "Windows ME Startup Menu" screen, similar to the example below. In this menu, choose option 3 by pressing the 3 key and then pressing Enter.

Note: On some computers, if you press and hold a key as the computer is booting, you will get a stuck key message. If this occurs, continuously tap F8 upon startup, rather than holding it.

Microsoft Windows 98 Startup Menu
=============================

1. Normal
2. Logged (\BOOTLOG.TXT)
3. Safe mode
4. Step-by-step confirmation
5. Command prompt only
6. Safe mode command prompt only

Enter a choice: 1

F5=Safe Mode Shift+F5=Command prompt Shift+F8= Step-by-step confirmation [N]

Once you're done in Safe Mode, if you want to get back into normal Windows, restart the computer. Click here to get additional information about getting out of Safe mode.

Windows 95 users

To get into Windows 95 Safe Mode, as the computer is booting, when you either hear a beep or when you see the message "Starting Windows 95." Press your F8 key on the top of your keyboard. If done properly, you should see the "Windows 95 Startup Menu" screen, similar to the example below. In this menu, choose option 3 by pressing the 3 key, and then pressing Enter.

Microsoft Windows 95 Startup Menu
=============================

1. Normal
2. Logged (\BOOTLOG.TXT)
3. Safe mode
4. Step-by-step confirmation
5. Command prompt only
6. Safe mode command prompt only

Enter a choice: 1

F5=Safe Mode Shift+F5=Command prompt Shift+F8= Step-by-step confirmation [N]

Once you're done in Safe Mode, if you want to get back into normal Windows, restart the computer like you normally would and let it boot normally. Click here to get additional information about getting out of Safe mode.

How to get out of Safe Mode

From Windows Safe Mode, click Start, Shutdown, and restart the computer to boot back into Normal Mode.

Note: Many users believe that they are still in Safe Mode because the colors or video may not look correct. Unless in the corners of the screen it says "Safe Mode", you are not in Safe Mode. For information on how to setup your video card resolution, see document CH000190.

If you are rebooting the computer and it is rebooting back into Safe Mode (it does say "Safe Mode" in each of the corners), it is likely another problem exists with Windows preventing it from loading into Normal Windows. We recommend you see the basic troubleshooting section for additional ideas that may help to resolve your issue.

Which Safe Mode option should I choose?

Users who are running later versions of Windows will get different options for different versions of Safe Mode. For example, you may have options for "Safe Mode", "Safe Mode with Networking", and "Safe Mode with Command Prompt." Below is a brief description of each of these different modes.

Safe Mode

The basic Safe Mode option is usually what most users will want to choose when troubleshooting their computer. This is the most basic Safe Mode option and has no additional support.

Safe Mode with Networking

Users who need access to the Internet or the network they're connected to while in Safe Mode should select this option. This mode is helpful for when you need to be in Safe Mode to troubleshoot, but also need access to the Internet so you can get updates, drivers, or other files to help troubleshoot your issue.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

This Safe Mode allows you to have access to the command line (MS-DOS prompt).

Additional information

  • See the Safe Mode definition page for further information and related links.