If you’re having trouble starting your Windows 11 PC, it might help to reboot into safe mode, which temporarily disables drivers and features to make your PC more stable. Here’s how to do it.
How to Enter Safe Mode at Boot
With Windows 7 and earlier, you could typically start Safe Mode by pressing a function key (such as F8) just after turning on your PC. Microsoft removed this feature starting in Windows 8 because, thanks to new technologies, startup times became too fast for someone to quickly hit F8 in time before Windows loaded.
Instead, Microsoft designed an “automatic failover” workaround for times when your PC malfunctions and Windows won’t load properly. Your PC will automatically enter an advanced startup troubleshooting mode if it fails to start twice in a row. You can force this by powering on the PC, and then pushing its physical power button just as you see the manufacturer’s logo appear. Do this twice, and you’ll see a “Choose an Option” advanced startup screen. Then, follow the directions described in the section below to enter Safe Mode.
How to Enter Safe Mode from Windows
There are several different ways to restart your computer into an “Advanced Startup” mode on Windows 11 that will allow you to select “Safe Mode” after several choices. The easiest way? Open the Start menu and click the power icon in the lower-right corner. Then, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click “Restart.”
Alternately, you can begin the long road to Safe Mode through the Settings app. First, launch Settings by pressing Windows+i (Or, you can find it by searching in Start.). When Settings opens, click “System” in the sidebar, and then select “Recovery.”
In Recovery Options, locate the “Advanced Startup” option and click the “Restart Now” button beside it.
Windows will confirm with a pop-up dialog box that asks you to save your work before you restart. When you’re ready, click “Restart Now.”
After that, Windows will shut down and restart into a blue-colored screen titled “Choose an Option,” with several options in a brief list. Select “Troubleshoot.”
In Troubleshoot, select “Advanced Options.”
In Advanced Options, select “Startup Settings.”
In Startup Settings, click “Restart.”
The PC will restart into a “Startup Settings” menu with nine numbered options. Press the “4” key on your keyboard for Safe Mode, “5” for Safe Mode with Networking, or “6” for Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
Generally, you’ll want to press 4 or 5 here, but 6 can be useful for advanced troubleshooting if you’re good with the Windows command line.
Once you’ve made your selection, Windows will finally boot into Safe mode. Your display will be at a lower resolution, and Windows will replace your desktop image with a black background that says “Safe Mode” in the corners.
At this point, you can do whatever troubleshooting tasks you need to accomplish. When you’re done, just restart (or shut down) your Windows 11 PC as usual. If all goes well and your problem has been fixed, when you reboot the next time, you’ll be back in regular non-safe Windows mode. Good luck!
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