How to Turn Safe Mode On and Off On Android

Use this feature to troubleshoot a slow device

What to Know

  • Starting Android in Safe Mode won't solve problems but it is a way to get information about what the issue might be. 
  • Hold the Suspend or Power button, tap Power off, and then select Reboot in safe mode.
  • Not all Android devices will give you the option to reboot into Safe Mode.

If your Android device is powered on, and apps such as a clock or calendar widget on the home screen crash frequently or run slowly, you can start your Android in safe mode to track down the problem.

Running your device in safe mode won't solve whatever problem you have, but is a way get information about what the problem might be.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Person rebooting a smartphone into safe mode in a panic room
Julie Bang / Lifewire

Reboot Into Safe Mode

If you think you need to reboot in Safe Mode to learn what is causing the problems with your Android device, use these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Suspend or Power button until the Power menu appears on the device screen.

  2. Tap Restart. The device will power down and power back up on its own.

    Restart button, OK button on Android
  3. If the menu doesn't list a Restart option, choose Power off.  

  4. It may take several seconds for the device to shut down. Once the screen is completely dark, press the Suspend or Power button until a logo appears on the screen.  

  5. Once the device has powered up, test it to see if it still has problems.

Why Use Android in Safe Mode?

When you activate safe mode, you narrow down the reason why Android crashes or why Android runs slowly. If the device runs fine in safe mode, then you know the hardware isn't causing the problem and the culprit is likely one of your apps. If that's the case, the good news is the device doesn't need to be repaired or replaced. The bad news is you'll need to figure out which app is causing the problem.

What to Do If You Don't Get the Safe Mode Option

Not every Android device will boot into safe mode the same way. Some manufacturers, like Samsung, have a slightly different version of Android and older devices may operate differently because they have an older version of Android. If your initial attempt to boot into safe mode is unsuccessful, try these alternative methods:

  • If holding the Power off button in the Power menu doesn't prompt you to enter safe mode, tap and hold the Restart button. Older versions of Android use this method to enter safe mode.
  • On Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy series, and on some older Android devices, reboot the device using the above instructions and watch for the logo to appear on the screen when the device powers back up. While the logo is on the screen, press the Volume down button on the side of the device. The words safe mode appear at the bottom of the screen once it fully boots up.

What to Do in Safe Mode

If your device runs faster or stops crashing while it's in safe mode, an app may be causing the problem. To fix it, determine which app is to blame, then uninstall it.

Managing Apps in Safe Mode on Android

To determine which app to uninstall, look at some likely suspects:

  • Apps that automatically start when the device boots up. These apps include Android widgets, which are apps that show up on the home screen such as the clock or calendar, and custom home screen apps.
  • Recently downloaded apps. If you recently noticed the problem, the culprit is likely either an app you recently acquired or one that was recently updated.
  • Non-essential apps. If you've deleted apps that load at startup and apps recently acquired or updated, next try uninstalling apps you don't use regularly.

Apps may not run in safe mode, but they can be uninstalled there. Uninstall the apps in safe mode, then reboot to test the device.

Still Having Problems in Safe Mode?

If you boot into safe mode and still experience problems, don't run out and buy a new phone or tablet just yet. Using safe mode narrows the cause of the problem down to the operating system or the hardware.

The next step is to restore the device to its factory default state, which deletes everything including all personal settings.

Restoring your device to its factory default settings uninstalls all apps and erases all data. Make sure you have backed up your data before performing this action.

If you reset Android device to factory default and it still has problems, you'll need to either repair or replace it.

How to Exit Out of Safe Mode

To exit safe mode, reboot the device using the directions above. By default, Android boots into normal mode. If the device boots in safe mode, rebooting should restore it to normal mode.

If you reboot and you're still in safe mode, it means Android has detected a problem with an app that launches automatically at bootup or one of the base Android operating system files. To remedy this problem, delete apps that launch at start up such as custom home screens and widgets. Then, reboot the device again.