How to Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode and When to Use It

Safe Mode is vital when it comes to effectively troubleshooting Windows 10. But there’s the catch. Windows 10 boots so fast that it’s quite difficult to trigger Safe Mode with the F8 or Shift+F8 shortcuts. You can hammer away at these keys all you want, but the chances of getting them to register are pretty slim.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot Featured Alt

But don't worry. There are multiple other methods that you can instead make use of to get your computer to boot in Safe Mode. While you are at it, your computer will not lose any data. To be on a safer side, remove third-party programs from Windows 10 startup. So without any further ado, let's check some methods to know how to boot Windows 10 in safe mode.

1. Press Shift+Restart

Provided that you can launch into Windows 10 normally, the easiest way to get your PC to boot in Safe Mode involves performing a simple computer restart. Hold your horses! You need to do that slightly differently than usual.

Step 1: Click the Power icon on the Start menu. Next, hold down the Shift key, and then click Restart.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 1

Step 2: Your PC will then restart. But rather than booting you into Windows 10, you will come across a screen labeled Choose an Option. Click Troubleshoot to continue.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 2

Step 3: On the Troubleshoot screen, select Advanced Options to proceed.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 3

Step 4: Within the Advanced Options screen, click Startup Settings.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 4

Step 5: Click Restart to access the Windows 10 Startup Settings menu.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 5

Step 6: After your computer restarts and the Startup Settings menu shows up, you must press a relevant number key (4, 5, or 6) depending on how you want to activate Safe Mode.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 6
  • Press 4 to enable Safe Mode in its most basic form (no internet or network access).
  • Press 5 to enable Safe Mode with networking (supports internet and network access).
  • Press 6 to enable Safe Mode with the Command Prompt console in place of the Windows 10 graphical user interface (for advanced users only).

After pressing the desired key, your computer will restart and boot in Safe Mode.

2. Use the Settings App

Another convenient means to configure Windows 10 to boot in Safe Mode involves using the Recovery Options in the Settings app.

Step 1: Type recovery options into the Start menu, and then click on Open in the right pane.

Note: If the Start menu or Windows Search doesn't appear or work, open the Settings app via the Notifications Center. Then click Update & Security, followed by Recovery.
Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 7

Step 2: Once the Settings app finishes loading, click Restart Now underneath the Advanced Startup section.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 8

That should restart your computer. Similar to the earlier method, click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart on the menus that show up subsequently. Finally, press the relevant number (4, 5, or 6) on the Startup Settings menu to boot into Safe Mode.

3. Interrupt Boot Process

If Windows 10 hangs during startup and you can’t boot into the operating system at all, then you can forcibly trigger Safe Mode to load instead.

Step 1: During the boot process, press and hold the physical Power or Reset button on your computer for a few seconds until it restarts. Repeat that three times.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 9

Step 2: After the third time, the computer will greet you with a Preparing Automatic Repair screen. Wait patiently for a few minutes.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 10

Step 3: Once the Automatic Repair screen shows up, click Advanced Options to proceed.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 11

Step 4: On the Choose an Options screen, click Troubleshoot.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 12

After that navigate through Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Next, press the relevant number key (4, 5, or 6) as desired on the Startup Settings menu to boot into Safe Mode.

Tip: This method is also ideal if you want to get to Safe Mode without fully booting into Windows in case your computer is infected or compromised.

4. Use Installation Media

Do you have a bootable Windows 10 installation DVD or USB flash drive at hand? If so, you can boot into Safe Mode using the Command Prompt console that comes built into Windows Setup.

Step 1: Insert or connect the bootable Windows 10 DVD or flash drive, and then restart your computer. Press any key during startup to boot from the bootable media. On the Windows Setup screen that shows up, click Next.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 13

Step 2: On the following screen, click Repair Your Computer.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 14

Step 3: On the Choose an Option screen, click Troubleshoot.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 15

Step 4: On the Advanced Options screen, click Command Prompt.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 16

Step 5: Depending on how you want Safe Mode to function, type a command from the list below into the Command Prompt console, and then press Enter:

Safe Mode

bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal

Safe Mode with Networking

bcdedit /set {default} safeboot network

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

bcdedit /set {default} safebootalternateshell yes
Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 17

Step 6: After executing the command, exit the Command Prompt console.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 18

Step 7: You will come across the Choose an Options screen again. This time, click Continue.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 19

Your computer will restart and automatically boot into Safe Mode.

5. Use System Configuration

Do you want to boot into Safe Mode repeatedly? At times, you may have to run through several diagnostics, and it’s not fun to repeatedly go through the procedures mentioned above. A simple tweak can force Safe Mode to show up on subsequent reboots as well.

Note: You can perform the modification while using Windows 10 normally or in Safe Mode.

Step 1: Type system configuration into the Start menu, and then press Enter. On the System Configuration dialog box that shows up, click the Boot tab.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 20

Step 2: Check the box next to Safe Boot. Then, select either Minimal, Alternate Shell, or Network depending on how you want Safe Mode to function.

  • Minimal - Safe Mode
  • Alternate Shell - Safe Mode with Command Prompt
  • Network - Safe Mode with Networking
Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 21

Finally, click Apply and OK to save the changes. The next time that you restart your computer, it will boot into Safe Mode automatically. That will repeat indefinitely until you head back into the System Configuration dialog box and uncheck the box next to Safe Boot.

When to Use Safe Mode

Safe Mode boots Windows 10 into a basic state without loading up hardware drivers, unnecessary services, or third-party startup programs. While the screen resolution leaves much to be desired, Safe Mode provides the perfect means to carry out a range of troubleshooting activities on your computer.

For example, you can run a specific program or perform some task that fails while using Windows 10 normally. If it works in Safe Mode, you can then determine the reason behind the erratic behavior which is usually a problematic hardware driver or background service.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 22

Safe Mode also works best when it comes to uninstalling or rolling back drivers. If a recent hardware driver update is causing performance issues, you can rollback the change without failing in your attempts.

Malware attacks offer another prime reason to use Safe Mode. In case of a severe infection, booting into Safe Mode with no networking capabilities will prevent malicious code from downloading additional code or transmitting sensitive information. Then you can isolate them and remove those nefarious programs from your computer.

Windows 10 Safe Mode Boot 23

The uses for Safe Mode are just limitless. In short, make it a point to boot into Safe Mode whenever you run into an issue that you just can't seem to resolve normally. It could be the difference between a time-consuming visit to a PC repair shop to patching the problem yourself in a matter of minutes.

Next up: Clean Boot and Safe Mode in Windows 10 are two separate things. Learn how they differ from each other.

Read Next
Safe Mode vs Clean Boot: Understand the Difference and When to Use
Also See
#windows 10 #troubleshooting

Join the newsletter

Dilum Senevirathne is a contributing writer at Guiding Tech who loves sharing his passion for all things technology. He takes privacy and security seriously, so don’t be surprised to see him put sketchy-looking apps to task! When he isn’t writing, you can find him catching up on the latest tech stuff at Reddit.