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How to Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

There are times when you’ll need to troubleshoot your PC. Whether it’s a stability issue with the OS or a problem with a driver, a good place to start is by booting into Safe Mode. In previous versions of Windows you could just restart your computer while pressing the F8 key repeatedly.

While that worked in the XP days, the OS has evolved and Safe Mode is buried a bit deeper, and there is a couple of ways to do it.

Safe Mode via Advanced Boot Options

If you’re having problems booting into Windows 10 or it keeps crashing on you, the easy way to get into Safe Mode is to use Advanced Boot Options. And this is where your Windows 10 USB Recovery Drive comes in handy. You have created one right?

Or, you can hold down the Shift Key and at the same time click Restart.

sshot-1

Either way, when your PC comes back you’ll see the Advanced Options menu. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options and select Startup Settings.

Advanced Boot Options Windows 10

On the next screen select the Restart button.

sshot-2

When it comes back you will see the familiar Advanced Boot Options screen and can choose the version of Safe Mode you want, i.e. with networking or not.

Safe Mode

Boot into Safe Mode While Inside Windows 10

If the problem you’re having still allows you to get into the OS, hit the Windows Key+R to open the Run box or in the Search field type: msconfig and hit Enter.

msconfig windows 10

Next in the System Configuration window select the Boot tab.

sys config

Then under Boot Options check the Safe Boot box and one of four options which are explained below:

  • Minimal: Safe Mode without a network connection (typically best for home users)
  • Alternate Shell: Safe Mode with the Command Prompt (advanced power user option)
  • Active Directory Repair: This is for restoring a server Domain Controller (home users don’t need to worry about this one)
  • Network: Safe Mode with a network connection (allows you to reach the internet and other devices on your network)

Restart your computer and it goes into Safe Mode automatically – no need to press any keys.

Then while in Safe Mode you can use the administrative utilities from the hidden Quick Access menu for troubleshooting.

safe mode win10

Make sure that once you’re done with Safe Mode, go back into System Configuration and uncheck Safe Boot. Otherwise you’ll be booting into Safe Mode every time you restart.

Note that you can use these options to boot Windows 8.1 into Safe Mode, too.

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2 Responses to How to Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

  1. holdum333 June 28, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    The above procedure works for Windows 10 also! I like having the safe mode available by tapping the F8 Key!
    The safe mode is a great way to trouble shoot!

  2. holdum333 June 28, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    To get that classic F8 behavior back we need to restore the legacy boot menu policy. To do this, hit the Win + X keyboard combination and launch and elevated command prompt.

    When the command prompt opens, run the following:

    bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
    That’s really all there is to it. Now, when your computer boots up, you can mash the F8 key to view the classic Advanced Boot Options.

    If you want to return the boot menu back to normal, you can use this command:

    bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard

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