Troubleshooting

How to boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10

You can start your PC in Safe Mode to troubleshoot and fix Windows 10 problems — here are four ways you can access this mode.

Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

On Windows 10, you can start a device in Safe Mode in at least four different ways using Command Prompt, Settings, Start power menu, and MSConfig. Safe Mode allows you to load a set of basic features and generic device drivers enough to troubleshoot and resolve common software and hardware-related problems.

For instance, you can use Safe Mode to troubleshoot your computer when it is not booting correctly, problems with a network connection, application, or Windows Update stuck downloading updates. It is also a good environment to diagnose and fix graphics driver problems as well as to perform a virus scan to remove any malware, which otherwise will be impossible to fix when the operating system is running in normal mode.

In the past, starting in Safe Mode was as easy as rebooting your device and pressing the “F8” key, but this is no longer the case with Windows 10.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using Command Prompt, Settings, power menu, and MSConfig.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using Power options

To start in Safe Mode with the Power menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Click the Power menu.

  3. Press and hold the Shift key and then click the Restart button.

    Start in Safe Mode with Shift + Restart
    Windows 10 power menu
  4. Click the Troubleshoot option.

  5. Click on Advanced options.

  6. Click the Startup Settings option.

    Windows 10 startup settings
    Windows 10 startup settings
  7. Click the Restart button.

    Startup settings restart option
    Startup settings restart option
  8. Choose one of the Safe Mode environments you want to start Windows 10, including: 

    • Enable Safe Mode.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
    Windows 10 start in Safe Mode options
    Windows 10 startup settings

    Typically, depending on the problem, you will have to use option No. 4 (Enable Safe Mode). However, if you need to have access to the internet to update drivers or download a new antivirus definition to do a full virus scan, you can also select option No. 5 (Enable Safe Mode with Networking).

Once you complete the steps, the device will start in the mode you specified allowing you to troubleshoot and fix virtually any problem on Windows 10.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using Settings

To get into Safe Mode from Settings on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Update & Security.

  3. Click on Recovery.

  4. Under the “Advanced startup” section, click the Restart button.

    Advanced startup option
    Advanced startup option
  5. On the Choose an option screen, click the Troubleshoot option.

  6. Click the Advanced options button.

  7. Click the Startup Settings option.

    Windows 10 startup settings
    Windows 10 startup settings
  8. Click the Restart button.

    Startup settings restart option
    Startup settings restart option
  9. Choose one of the Safe Mode environments you want to start Windows 10, including: 

    • Enable Safe Mode.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

    Windows 10 start in Safe Mode options
    Windows 10 startup settings options

After you complete the steps, the computer will enter into the Safe Mode environment where you can troubleshoot and resolve system problems more easily.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using Command Prompt

To boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command and press Enter:

    Bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes

    Windows 10 Safe Mode with bcdedit command
    Windows 10 bcdedit command
  4. Restart the device.

  5. In the Windows Boot Manager menu, press the F8 key to access the Startup Settings menu options.

    Windows 10 boot manager
    Windows 10 boot manager
    • Enable Safe Mode.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

      Choose one of the Safe Mode environments you want to start Windows 10, including: 

    Windows 10 start in Safe Mode options
    Windows 10 startup settings options

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 will start in Safe Mode with the option that you specified.

You can always exit the basic boot level using the same instructions, but on step No. 3, make sure to use this command  Bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu no.

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using MSConfig

To start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using MSConfig, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for msconfig and click the top result to open the app.

  3. Click the Boot tab.

  4. Under the “Boot options” section, check the Safe boot option.

  5. Choose the Minimal option to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode, or the Network option to boot in the basic environment with networking support.

    msconfig boot in Safe Mode
    msconfig boot options
  6. Click the Apply button.

  7. Click the OK button.

  8. Restart the computer.

The only caveat with this option is that Windows 10 will continue to boot into Safe Mode until you revert the changes.

After resolving the problem with the device, you can revert the changes using the same instructions, but on step No. 4, make sure to clear the Safe boot option.

The steps outlined above will help you to enter the basic boot level on devices running Windows 10 as well as those running Windows 8.1.

Also, there are a number of techniques to access the “Advanced startup” menu. You can refer to this previous guide to learn the different techniques to get to the Advanced startup menu in Windows 10.

Update December 8, 2020: This guide was originally published in February 2016, and it has been updated for the latest version of Windows 10.