How to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP

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How to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP

Here we can see, “How to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP”

About the Safe Mode

In Safe Mode, your computer runs with non-core components deactivated, making it easier to address potential faults or delete software that can’t be fixed or removed under ordinary circumstances.

You can utilize a variety of diagnostic tools if you boot into Safe Mode:

  • System Restore
  • Various settings for your Windows version
  • Device Manager, where you can update and remove devices and drivers from your computer
  • Event Viewer
  • System Information, where you can view information about the hardware
  • Command Prompt
  • Registry Editor

Go to Diagnostic tools in Safe Mode for further information on using these diagnostic tools.

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Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, and Safe Mode with Command Prompt are the three most common alternatives.

  • Safe Mode
  • Safe Mode with Networking
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Options

There are three possibilities in Windows’ Safe Mode:

  • Safe Mode is the default setting. This is the most popular choice. It provides you with the bare minimum of devices, drivers, and services required to operate Windows.
  • Safe Mode with Networking is a mode that allows you to connect to the internet. This option loads the same devices, drivers, and services as Safe Mode but with the added networking drivers.
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt. This option loads the same drivers and services as Safe Mode, but instead of Windows Explorer, it loads Command Prompt (cmd.exe) (graphical interface).

How to enter Safe Mode on your computer

It would help if you hit the F8 key when Windows is booting, but before the logo shows, enter Safe Mode.

The combination of Shift and F8 keys may work with Windows 8 and Windows 10, but only on UEFI/EFI PCs.

Follow the steps below for Windows-specific instructions.

Windows XP’s Safe Mode

Follow these instructions to start Windows XP in Safe Mode:

  1. Your computer should be restarted. Remove all external cords and media, leaving only the essentials: monitor, keyboard, mouse, and so on.
  2. Before the Windows XP logo shows, press the F8 key when your computer starts up.
  3. The Windows Advanced Options Menu should now appear.
  4. Select the Safe Mode option.
  5. Press the Enter key.

Windows Vista’s Safe Mode

Follow these instructions to launch Windows Vista in Safe Mode:

  1. Take out all CDs, DVDs, and USB drives from your computer. Make sure no printers, scanners, or other devices are connected.
  2. Restart your computer.
  3. As soon as your computer boots up, press F8. This button must be pressed before the Windows Vista logo shows. If you have more than one operating system, select the one you wish to boot into Safe Mode with the arrow keys and hit Enter.
  4. Select Safe Mode from the Advanced Boot Options menu using the arrow keys.
  5. Press Enter.
  6. If you’re prompted, log in as an administrator.

Windows 7’s Safe Mode

The methods for entering Safe Mode on a Windows 7 system are similar to those for entering Safe Mode on a Windows Vista system:

  1. Remove all of your computer’s peripherals.
  2. Your computer should be restarted.
  3. Before the Windows 7 logo shows, press the F8 key. Use the arrow keys to navigate and select the operating system you wish to boot into Safe Mode if you have more than one operating system installed on the same computer.
  4. Using the arrow keys, select Safe Mode and press Enter.
  5. Log in as an administrator if requested.

Safe Mode in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

If you can boot into Windows 8 or Windows 10, use these instructions to get into Safe Mode:

  1. Restart the computer if necessary.
  2. During the boot process, but before the Windows logo shows, press F8 or Shift + F8.

If the F8 or Shift + F8 keys don’t function, see Windows 8 – F8 key not working or try the alternate steps below:

  1. Startup Windows.
  2. To open Run, press the Windows and R keys together.
  3. Type msconfig.
  4. Toggle to the Boot Tab.
  5. Check the Safe Boot and Minimal checkboxes in the Boot options section.
  6. Click the OK button.
  7. Restart the computer if necessary. If the System Configuration window prompts you, select Restart rather than Exit without Restart.

At the login window, another method is to use the Shift and Restart keys together:

  1. Start Windows and wait for the login screen to appear. Do not log in as a user. If you don’t see a login screen, fire up the computer and go to Settings.
  2. Activate the power switch.
  3. Click Restart while holding down the Shift key.
  4. Select Troubleshoot from the Choose an option screen.
  5. Select the Advanced Options.
  6. Choose Startup Settings.
  7. Click Restart.
  8. Your computer may automatically restart and display the Startup Settings screen.
  9. To enter Safe Mode, press the F4 key. Press F5 to enter Safe Mode with Networking or F6 to enter Safe Mode with Command Prompt for the other two Safe Mode options.
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It is also possible to boot into Safe Mode using the installation CD/DVD:

  1. In the optical drive, place the disc.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. To boot from the CD/DVD, press any key.
  4. Decide on a keyboard layout.
  5. Click Repair your computer.
  6. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings from the drop-down menu.
  7. Click Restart.
  8. The computer should automatically restart with the Startup Settings screen.
  9. To enter Safe Mode, press F4. To enter Safe Mode with Networking, press F5. To enter Safe Mode with Command Prompt, press F6.

Diagnostic tools in Safe Mode

In Safe Mode, you can use a variety of diagnostic tools.

Restore the system

  1. Boot into Safe Mode.
  2. Return to the
  3. Go to Start.
  4. Click All Programs.
  5. Go to the Accessories.
  6. Select System Tools.
  7. Click System Restore.
  8. If you’re prompted, type in the administrator password.

Device Manager

While in Safe Mode, follow these procedures to open and edit the configuration in Device Manager:

  1. Boot your Windows into Safe Mode.
  2. Click Start.
  3. Click Control Panel.
  4. Click System and Maintenance
  5. Click Device Manager.
  6. If prompted, type in an administrator password.

If you are logged in as an administrator, you can use Device Manager and edit configurations. 

Changes made using a non-administrative account will only affect that user.

Event Viewer

To open Event Viewer while in Safe Mode, follow these instructions:

  • Boot into Safe Mode
  • Click Start
  • Click Control Panel
  • Click System and Maintenance
  • Click Administrative Tools
  • Double-click on Event Viewer

Command Prompt

To open Command Prompt while in Safe Mode, follow these instructions:

  • Boot into Safe Mode
  • Click Start
  • Click All Programs
  • Click Accessories
  • Click Command Prompt

Troubleshoot

Safe Mode not working

If you are unable to enter Safe Mode, consider the following suggestions:

  • Check your BIOS for a Keyboard Support USB option. 
  • If that’s the case, make sure it’s set to Enabled rather than Disabled.

Make sure the F-lock feature on your keyboard is turned off.

If the F keys don’t work to boot into Safe Mode after trying the above methods, you can use the following command from within Windows: msconfig (you must first boot into Windows):

  1. Boot into Windows.
  2. Click Start.
  3. Click Run.
  4. Type msconfig.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Navigate to the Boot tab (or Boot.ini for Windows XP users).
  7. Check the Safe Boot checkbox (or /SAFEBOOT if you’re using Windows XP).
  8. Click the OK button.
  9. Press the Restart button.
  10. Wait for Windows to start in Safe Mode on its own.

Users of Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 can open Run by hitting the Windows and R keys simultaneously.

Suppose you can’t get into Windows to run MSConfig. In that case, you can use Command Prompt to perform chkdsk and bootrec commands, or you can use the original installation CD or Easy Recovery Essentials.

The chkdsk and bootrec applications will correct any problems identified on your hard drive or during the Windows booting process. 

After that, you can attempt booting into Safe Mode again.

Check out our chkdsk guide for more information. 

Read our guide: Bootrec for more details on Bootrec.

For Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. In the optical drive, place the installation CD.
  2. Your computer should be restarted.
  3. To ensure that you boot from the CD, press any key when the “Press any key” prompt appears.
  4. To open Recovery Console, press R on the Windows Options menu.
  5. Enter the password for the administrator.
  6. When the Command Prompt window displays, type the following command:
chkdsk C: /r

Replace C: with the letter of the drive that contains Windows XP.

7. Press Enter

8. You may also use the bootcfg command to execute the Windows XP counterpart of bootrec: press Enter.

bootcfg /rebuild

9. Press Enter

10. Type exit hit Enter, and restart your computer when you’re finished.

The following are the steps for Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10:

  1. Place the original installation disc in the drive.
  2. Your computer should be restarted.
  3. Press any key to boot from the installation medium (CD, DVD, or USB drive).
  4. Click Repair your computer.
  5. Choose an operating system.
  6. Select Command Prompt.
  7. Execute the following commands in the next order, pressing Enter after each one:
chkdsk /r
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /FixMbr

You can use Command Prompt from Easy Recovery Essentials: If you don’t have an original installation CD, you can use Command Prompt from Easy Recovery Essentials:

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials
  2. The ISO image should be burned.
  3. Easy Recovery Essentials is a great place to start.
  4. Select Launch Command Line.

Windows 8, 10 – F8 key not working

If you have a computer with UEFI/EFI and use Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, the F8 key will not work to boot into Safe Mode since Windows 8 and Windows 10 are built to boot quickly.

Follow these steps to enable the F8 key:

  1. Open a Command Prompt window.
  2. Click to run it as an administrator if you’re logged into Windows.
  3. Type the following command:
bcdedit /set bootmenupolicy legacy

4. Press Enter

5. A message of success should appear:

The operation completed successfully.

6. Your computer should be restarted.

If you can’t boot into Windows, you can use the installation disc (CD/DVD for Windows 8 and Windows 10; USB device for Windows 8.1) to run Command Prompt:

  1. Restart the computer after inserting the disc into the optical drive.
  2. To boot from the DVD, press any key.
  3. Decide on a keyboard layout.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Click Repair your computer.
  6. Select Troubleshoot from the drop-down menu.
  7. Click Advanced options.
  8. Select Command Prompt.

Use Easy Recovery Essentials to access Command Prompt if you don’t have the installation CD.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials
  2. The ISO image should be burned.
  3. Easy Recovery Essentials is a great place to start.
  4. Select Launch Command Line.

Conclusion

I hope this information was helpful. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

User Questions

1. How can I start Windows XP in Safe Mode?

  • Switch on your PC.
  • When the first screen opens, keep pressing the F8 key.
  • Select Safe Mode from the Windows Advanced Options Menu and press ENTER.
  • Enter the password in the Administrator box (if applicable).

2. If F8 doesn’t work, how can I start Windows 7 in Safe Mode?

  • To reopen the System Configuration tool, press Win+R, type “msconfig” into the Run box, and press Enter. 
  • Disable the “Safe Boot” checkbox under the “Boot” tab. 
  • When you’re finished, click “OK” and restart your computer.

3. What is the best way to force Windows 10 into Safe Mode?

  • Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart once your computer restarts to the Choose an Option screen. 
  • A list of alternatives should show after your computer restarts. 
  • To start your computer in Safe Mode, press 4 or F4 on your keyboard.
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