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How To Boot Into Safe Mode On Windows 8 or 8.1 (The Easy Way)

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One of the most common steps when troubleshooting a PC is to boot into safe mode. For a long time this has been achieved by pressing the F8 key, this all changes with Windows 8 and its Automatic Repair mode. But what if we want Safe Mode?

You can still have Safe Mode, however, it is buried deep into the recovery options of Windows 8. While just mashing the F8 key as we all know will boot you into automatic recovery mode, you can still manually access the recovery options by pressing the Shift+F8 key combination. Even more simple, however, is the option to just hold the SHIFT key and click Restart at the login screen, or even within Windows.

Booting Into Safe Mode on Windows 8

There are a number of ways to get into Safe Mode, and these ways depend on whether or not you can boot the computer, or whether you can login to the computer. The first one is the simplest.

If your PC boots to the Login Screen

If you can boot the PC to the login screen, you can hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on Restart to be taken to the troubleshooting option screen where you can enable Safe Mode. Keep reading below for those details.

If Your Computer Doesn’t Boot and You Have (or Can Make) a Recovery Flash Drive
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If you have access to another computer running the same version of Windows, you can create a USB recovery drive and boot the computer from that, which will take you into the recovery screens and give you access to Safe Mode (see the advanced troubleshooting tools section below).

If You Can’t Boot to the Login Screen

When your PC can’t actually boot to the login screen, you’ll usually be presented with the Recovery screen. If you don’t see this screen, you can try to hold the SHIFT key and then mash on the F8 key, which will sometimes boot you into the new advanced “recovery mode,”  where you can choose the advanced repair options button.

The only problem is that a lot of PCs don’t allow you to do this, especially newer PCs.

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Keep reading the next section.

Using the Advanced Troubleshooting Tools to Actually Enable Safe Mode

Once you get to the troubleshooting screen, either by using the SHIFT + Restart trick on the login screen, or by mashing the F8 key, using a system repair flash drive, or just by clicking the advanced repair options, you’ll be taken to this screen, where you can choose to Troubleshoot your PC.

You will need to click on the Troubleshoot button.

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Now select Advanced Options.

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Now choose the Windows Startup Settings option, by the looks of things we were never meant to find Safe Mode.

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Finally hit the Restart button.

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Like magic, when your PC reboots you will be able to boot into Safe Mode from the familiar looking Advanced Boot Options screen.

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Getting To Safe Mode From Within Windows 8

You have a second option, however, this requires you to be booted into Windows already. Press the Win+R key combination and type msconfig in the run box and hit enter.

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Switch over to the boot tab, and click on the Safe Boot check box.

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You can also choose the type of Safe Mode you want to boot into:

  • Minimal is normal safe mode.
  • Alternate Shell is safe mode with command prompt
  • Network is safe mode with networking.

The Active Directory option pertains to restoring a server that is a Domain Controller for your network. Once you have chosen your option click the ok button and restart your machine.

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You PC will be booted into Safe Mode automatically.

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If you restart you PC you will just keep getting booted into Safe Mode, to stop this open msconfig again and uncheck the Safe Boot option, then hit the ok button.

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Finally Restart your Machine.

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That’s all there is to it.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 11/19/14

RECOMMENDED POSTS

  • henrychapman

    What happened to simplicity, Microsoft?

  • Mike R.

    This doesn't always work. My Grandson had a problem with his win 8.1 computer where it would boot to the screen saver, Sometimes, you could get passed that and get to the log in screen, but no further. I tried all the above to no avail. My only choice was to press the power button and power on/off 3 times to get to a screen to reinstall windows. Microsoft really screwed up when they took safe mode off the F8 button.

  • Sylvain Paquette

    Try this in cmd mode:(bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy) without brackets!It will bring you back to Win7 era.After this cmd, you can use f8 again to enter safemode.

  • Pradip Shah

    There is a 1000 times easier method to achieve this end. Simply install EasyBCD and set the delay to something like 3 - 4 seconds. Then you will get this 3 - 4 second time to select your boot option. at every boot. It also allows you to add entries to your boot menu like Safe boot and Safe Boot with networking. I have added Memtest 86+ and Norton Ghost floppy image ISOs to my list. The first lets me test the ram the second allows me to create compressed Ghost Image backup of my C: drive.

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