On your Windows PC, you can boot into safe mode to load Windows without any third-party software. You can do the same on Android with Android’s safe mode. In safe mode, Android won’t load any third-party applications.
This allows you to troubleshoot your device – if you’re experiencing crashes, freezes, or battery life issues, you can boot into safe mode and see if the issues still happen there. From safe mode, you can uninstall misbehaving third-party apps.
Booting Into Safe Mode
To reboot into safe mode on Android 4.1 or later, long-press the power button until the power options menu appears.
Long-press the Power Off option and you’ll be asked if you want to reboot your Android device into safe mode. Tap the OK button.
On older versions of Android, long-press the power button and then tap Power Off to turn off your device. Turn on the phone or tablet by long-pressing the power button again. Release the power button and, when you see a logo appear during boot-up, hold down both the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons. Continue holding the two buttons until the device boots up with a Safe mode indicator at the bottom-left corner of its screen.
Troubleshooting in Safe Mode
While in safe mode, the words “Safe Mode” will appear at the bottom of your screen.
In safe mode, you’ll only have access to the apps that came with your device. Apps you’ve installed will be disabled and any widgets you’ve added to your home screens won’t be present. Try using your device normally after booting into safe mode. If your issue – freezing, rebooting, crashes, battery life issues, or bad performance – is solved in Safe Mode, the problem is with a third-party app you’ve installed.
While apps are disabled, you can uninstall them normally. Open the Settings screen, tap Apps, locate the app you want to install, tap it, and tap the Uninstall button. if you’ve installed any apps recently, you should probably try uninstalling those apps first.
After uninstalling the apps, you can try installing them one at a time to identify which app is causing you problems.
If you’re experiencing major problems with your device, you may want to skip all the troubleshooting and restore your device to its factory default settings. You’ll lose all the data on your device – so make sure you have everything backed up – and you’ll have to reinstall any apps you’ve installed. To do this, open the Settings screen, tap Backup & reset, tap Factory data reset, and follow the instructions on your screen.
To exit safe mode, restart your device normally. (Long-press the power button, select Power Off, and then long-press the power button again to turn it back on.) Your Android phone or tablet will boot and load third-party software as normal.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 12/2/12