• ARTICLES
SEARCH

How-To Geek

How To Boot Your Android Phone or Tablet Into Safe Mode

android-safe-mode-prompt

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.

android-power-options-menu

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.

android-reboot-into-safe-mode

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.

android-safe-mode-lock-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.

uninstall-an-app-on-android

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.

android-backup-and-reset


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

Comments (48)

  1. Collin

    Oh hell i had no idea you could do that.. Thanks mucho

  2. Man I've an answer

    helpful!! have to try it

  3. Areeb

    Awesome. Android is taking over the world. :D

  4. Cat

    Ditto everyone above! Thanks!

  5. Dave

    On most stock Samsung devices/roms, power off as normal. Then as you power on long press on the menu key (lower left) starting when you see the AT&T splash screen, and you will boot into Safe Mode.

  6. fuz_ha

    Really didn’t know the green bot had such an facility, awesome article! Kudos… Thumbs up for your effort mate!

  7. rKiller

    Almost everyone know that!

  8. whbs

    Thought it would be a good idea to lknow how to boot into safe mode on my new RAZR i phone running 4.01. Did as you said – no safe mode prompt appeared but the phone now has a bar along the top of the screen with various numbers and letters on it and whenever I drag my finger over the (still there) icons, I leave a blue line behind.

    HELP!

  9. Saji

    On my Samsung Galaxy S3 running stock Android 4.1.1, this is not working. Even after Long-pressing the Power Off option for quite some time, nothing happens. Neither is the method suggested by Dave is working for me.

  10. kenkimg

    Me too–none of the described methods work, on Verizon Galaxy S3.

  11. Eimal Dorani

    Didn’t work for Tablet Vox Model V100. running Android 2.2

  12. Craig

    To enter in to safe mode in Galaxy S3
    Switch off your phone Completely
    Switch it on using power button
    once you see Samsung logo start pressing the the left touch button at bottom..

    Droid 4: (hold OK key as it powers on)
    http://support.verizonwireless.com/clc/devices/knowledge_base.html?id=53953

    RAZR: (Both volume keys as booting)
    http://support.verizonwireless.com/clc/devices/knowledge_base.html?id=50079

  13. aadnan

    Sorry. Didn’t work with Xperia S LT26i with Android 4.0.4.

  14. Matt

    I booted into safe mode and its has the safe mode text at the bottom of my screen however all of my 3rd party apps are still here and work. Sprint Gnex.

  15. Dannie

    Thank you for the information, very useful.

  16. Nathan

    My phone yesterday crashed and booted itself into safe mode… I was so confused at first.

  17. Dale

    Did anyone read that it was for 4.1 or later? Just sayin’ is all.

  18. Dale

    oops sorry my bad

  19. PS

    whbs: somehow you’ve activated the developer function for tracking touch screen activity. Go into Settings->Developer options and uncheck the input option “Show pointer location” (not sure how you activated it, but that’s what that is…)

  20. Sneha

    Does not work on my HTC ONE V. after long pressing on power off button, nothing come as like safe mode.
    please tell me any alternative

  21. ray.inFerno

    Thanks for the How-To!
    This might be helpful in future.

  22. Ole One Eye

    It did not work on a Nexus 7 either.

  23. stephan

    Don’t know about other phones, but the Samsung Galaxy S Plus (I9001), on *all* android versions, you just press the ‘menu’ (touch key thingy), while booting, to boot into safe mode.

    found this accidentally. For some reason it removes your widgets.

  24. Tom

    Does not work on Samsung Galaxy S Plus

  25. Tom

    For Samsung Galaxy S Plus you need to tap the menu button every half second while booting.
    Then it works.

  26. whbs

    For PS.

    Many thanks. Spot on! Back to normal now.

  27. cliff

    Works great on my lg optimus one but had to use the older method of holding volume up and down buttons.Thanks

  28. ned11wils

    Just how much earlier is “earlier versions”? Android ver 2.3.5 in my HTC Desire S does not respond to this (depressed the rocker bar at a both ends simultaneously- no seperate volume up/down buttons). I have also found a variation where the volume down only is pressed but no success there either. Thanks for any info.

  29. zakzor

    The steps are wrong. After the power button long-press to see the menu you need to long-press the “Reboot” option and not the “Power Off” to be promped to reboot to safe mode.

  30. Nikos

    For those who have problems, try long-pressing the “Reboot” button instead of the “Power Off” one.
    In my CM10-based ROM this works

  31. Taomyn

    I did this a while back to troubleshoot my GNex, very handy, but be warned I lost all my widgets off the home screens although the icons were all still there. Very annoying and about time Google included a way to save these as well.

  32. Cliff Sees

    I have not been able to get it to work on my S III.

  33. Adolfo Badiola

    I have Samsung Galaxy Tab II on an Ice Cream Sandwich (4.1) platform and IT DOES NOT WORK!

  34. cormin

    4.1 or later? i remember this so that in 2 or 3 years when more than 30% of people have it, ill know what to do

  35. roshan

    gd1 :)

  36. Amir

    Does not work on my xperia U

  37. André

    The instructions given did not work on my HTC Amaze 4g, although they were close; what DID work was resetting the phone, rather than powering off, and then holding the volume buttons when the logo appeared.

  38. Richard Bardley Smith

    Has any of the many testing shops verified this? Should be simple. They all talk hardware but don’t we all…

  39. Sebastian Cork

    It’s probably important to mention that system apps that have been flashed via recovery on rooted devices will not be disabled in safe mode. That’s because safe mode is meant to disable user apps only. Most Android users who have rooted their phones will know this already. Otherwise, this is a great solution to a common problem.

  40. Alan

    Nice piece of advice written. I never know my phone can be boot to SAFE mode after reading this article.

  41. Victor

    cu sa ies din mod de siguranta android 4 de pe telefonul Sony ericson Xeperia pro MK16i, va rog ajutor,to get out of safe mode android 4 on Sony ericson Xeperia pro MK16i, please help

  42. adarsh

    dont work with power bottom

  43. Richard

    Doesn’t work on Galaxy Nexus 4.2.1

  44. Neo

    The things were very helpful ..Thank u..

  45. Erica

    Yay you were a lifesaver!

  46. Tim

    also have note ll but after long press only shows power off airplane snd restart, no asking about safe mode sprint. would appreciate advice

  47. Amin

    I have galaxy s3 and its not working they way you are telling

  48. Some Guy

    About booting Samsung devices in safe mode, I noticed that instead of the half-second vibrate, it was a longer vibrate.

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!