How to open Safe Mode

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope

Safe Mode is useful for troubleshooting computer problems, including software and hardware issues. To access Safe Mode in Windows or macOS, select a link below for the operating system you have on your computer.

Note

Accessing Safe Mode for Windows or macOS requires the use of a working keyboard. If the keyboard on your computer does not work, you cannot access Safe Mode.

Windows 10

Windows 10 Startup Settings Safe Mode options

To access Safe Mode in Windows 10, follow the steps below.

  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 see a menu with three options. Select the Troubleshoot option.
  4. Select Advanced options, Startup Settings, and then the Restart button.
  5. A screen like the one pictured should appear. 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 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 configuration

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 continues to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Windows 8

Windows 8 Startup Settings Safe Mode options

To access Safe Mode in Windows 8, follow the steps below.

  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 see a menu with three options, select Troubleshoot.
  4. Select Advanced options, Startup Settings, and then the Restart button.
  5. A screen like the one pictured should appear. 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 an SSD (solid-state drive). 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, the standard Choose Advanced Options screen, similar to the example below should appear. 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 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 continues to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista

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. See: How to load the last known good configuration.

To get into the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Safe Mode, as the computer is booting, press and hold the F8 key, which brings up the Choose Advanced Options screen 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, a stuck key message occurs. If this occurs, continuously tap F8 upon startup, rather than holding it.

Trouble Getting into Safe Mode - If, after several attempts you cannot 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 notices the computer did not successfully boot and display the Safe Mode screen 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. See the below how to get out of Safe Mode if you have further questions.

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 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 continues to automatically boot into Safe Mode each time you restart it.

Windows XP and Windows 2000

Tip

If you're running Safe Mode because you cannot get into Windows, you may want to first try loading the last known good configuration. See: How to load the last known good configuration.

To get into the Windows 2000 and XP Safe Mode, as the computer is booting, press and hold the F8 key, which brings up the Windows Advanced Options Menu screen 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, a stuck key message occurs. 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 cannot 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. See the below how to get out of Safe Mode if you have further questions.

Windows 98 and Windows ME

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, a "Windows 98 Startup Menu" or "Windows ME Startup Menu" screen, similar to the example below should appear. 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, a stuck key message occurs. 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. See the below how to get out of Safe Mode if you have further questions.

Windows 95

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 the F8 key on the top of your keyboard. If done properly, the "Windows 95 Startup Menu" screen, similar to the example below should appear. 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. See the below how to get out of Safe Mode if you have further questions.

macOS

  1. Turn on or restart your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key while your computer starts up.
  3. Once you see the login window, release the Shift key.
  4. Log in to your Mac.
  5. You should see "Safe Boot" in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Note

You might have to log in a second time.

How to get out of Safe Mode

To get out of Safe Mode on Windows or macOS, restart the computer.

Note

Many users believe they are still in Safe Mode because the colors or video may not look correct. Unless it says "Safe Mode" in the corners of the screen, you are not in Safe Mode. If your colors are distorted or you have video problems, see: How to view or change the screen resolution of a monitor.

If you reboot the computer and it's rebooting back into Safe Mode, it's 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 resolve your issue.

Which Safe Mode option should I choose?

Users who are running later versions of Windows 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 want to choose when troubleshooting their computer. The only downside is that this option has no additional support.

Safe Mode with Networking

Users who need access to the Internet or the network while in Safe Mode should select this option. This mode is helpful for when you need to access the Internet while in Safe Mode to get updates, drivers, or other files to help troubleshoot your issue.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

This version of Safe Mode gives you access to the command line (MS-DOS prompt).

Additional information