Tag Archives: safe mode

Restarting Windows 10 and Windows 8 in the safe mode

Prior to Windows 8, the procedure of restarting Windows in the safe mode was relatively straightforward: you would restart the computer, and then you would keep pressing the F8 key, about once every half second, before Windows begins to boot. With a bit of luck, Windows would detect the F8 key and display the black-and-white start menu:

The black-and-white start menu on Windows 7
The safe mode options screen in Windows 7

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In Windows 8 and 10, you are supposed to be able to press the Shift+F8 key combination to achieve a similar effect (although you would not find the black-and-white start menu there), except that the window of opportunity for the Shift+F8 keys is much shorter now and it may take you a few restart attempts to press it at just the right time.

If Windows does not want to recognize your Shift+F8 keys, don't despair: there is another way. Wait for Windows to start as usual, and then open the menu that contains the Restart command, but don't select it yet. (You can usually get to this menu by moving the mouse into the top-right corner, wating for the "charms" to appear, selecting "PC Settings" and finally clicking on "Power".)

The Power menu of Windows 8
The Power menu of Windows 8

Now press the Shift key, and while keeping it depressed, click on Restart (and release the Shift key, as well.) In a few moments Windows should prompt you what to do next:

The Restart options of Windows 8
The Restart options of Windows 8

To continue booting in the safe mode, select the middle option, Troubleshoot, and be presented with another screen of options:

The Troubleshoot options of Windows 8
The Troubleshoot options of Windows 8

Select Advanced options there to see yet another screen of choices:

The Advanced startup options of Windows 8
The Advanced startup options of Windows 8

Select Startup settings there, and see yet another screen (are we still counting?)

The Startup settings screen of Windows 8
The Startup settings screen of Windows 8

Press Restart on this screen, and after a few seconds we should (almost) reach the destination: the screen that finally lets us select one of the safe mode options:

The screen of Windows 8 that offers the safe mode options
The screen of Windows 8 that offers the safe mode options

Choose the desired safe mode option, and after a few seconds Windows 8 should boot into the safe mode! Be prepared to see some things not as they used to be: in the safe mode, Windows loads only the most basic components, to keep the running processes to a minimum. The screen may be black, the desktop icons may be moved, and so on. You should see the text "Safe Mode" displayed in each corner of the desktop:

A part of the Windows 8 desktop in the safe mode
A part of the Windows 8 desktop in the safe mode

When you are done using the safe mode, just restart Windows, and it should boot into its normal mode, as usual, without any additional intervention from you.

What if you want Windows keep booting into the safe mode every time, without going through the long sequence of the option screens every time? Here is how to set it up. First, open the System Configuration utility of Windows: you can find it easily if you have StartFinity, just use it to select Programs - Administrative tools to find this command:

Using StartFinity to run the System Configuration utility
Using StartFinity to run the System Configuration utility

Select the Boot tab on the System Configuration screen, and then select the Safe boot box:

The Safe boot option on the System Configuration screen
The Safe boot option on the System Configuration screen

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Press OK, and you may be prompted to restart Windows. You can do it right away, or after some time, but from this point on, whenever you restart Windows, it should boot into the safe mode.

How to disable the automatic reboot in the safe mode that we've set up above? Open the System Configuration utility, and deselect the Safe boot option. Keep in mind, though, that if Windows is restarted in the safe mode, the StartFinity icon may not be loaded automatically for you, but you can still start it manually using the StartFinity tile on the Start Screen, and then navigate to the System Configuration command as described above.

Yet another solution to this problem is to force Windows 8 and Windows 10 to behave in the same way as Windows 7. To do that, run Command Prompt "As Administrator", and enter the following command:

bcdedit /set {current} bootmenupolicy legacy

This should make Windows 8 and Windows 10 display the old-style black-and-white boot menu, instead of the fancy new one.

An update: If you have one of the latest builds of Windows 10, then it probably uses PowerShell instead of the regular command prompt. In such a case, the above command will NOT work! It must be entered into the "old" command prompt window, not into the PowerShell one.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 does not offer an easy way to open the "old" command prompt. Here is the trick that should get you started:

Click on the Windows Start button, and while the Start menu is displayed, start typing "cmd" (without the quotes). As soon as you type it, it should show Command Prompt as the best match. Press the Ctrl and Shift keys simultaneously, and while keeping them depressed, press the Enter key. This should launch the "old" command prompt "as administrator".

Good luck!

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