How Do I Start Windows in Safe Mode?

Start in Safe Mode in Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7

When you start your Windows PC in Safe Mode, you can solve all kinds of problems, especially those involving device drivers and DLL files. You may also be able to troubleshoot some Blue Screen of Death errors and other similar problems that interrupt or prevent Windows from starting normally. If you have one of Microsoft's Surface line of tablets, the instructions may be a little different.

Starting Safe Mode in Windows 10

To launch Safe Mode in Windows 10, open the Settings window by pressing Win+I. From the Update and Security section, select the Recovery option along the left-side menu and then click the grey Restart now box in the Advanced Startup section of the Recovery screen.

When your PC restarts, you'll see a screen titled "Choose an option," from which you should follow the menu options of Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. The PC will restart again; when it does, select Safe Mode (or press F4) or Safe Mode with Networking (or press F5) if you need the networking drivers activated as well.

Enable Safe Mode menu in Windows

Short-cut the Settings window by just restarting your PC. Hold the shift key while you select Power from the login window. When you restart, you'll be directed to the "Choose an option screen."

Starting Safe Mode in Prior Versions of Windows

Starting Windows in Safe Mode on older PCs is fairly simple but the exact method differs a little depending on the age of your operating system — whether you're using Windows 8 or Windows 7. You'll need to verify what version of Windows you have — if you're not sure which version of Windows is installed on your computer check out our article What Version of Windows Do I Have?

Limitations of Safe Mode

Starting Windows in Safe Mode does not solve, prevent or cause any kind of Windows problem. Safe Mode is simply a way of starting Windows with a minimum set of drivers and services in the theory that the operating system will run correctly enough to let you fix the problem with whatever driver or service interferes with the normal startup.

If you can access Windows normally, you also have the option of configuring Windows to start in Safe Mode automatically the next time your computer starts by using the System Configuration utility.

Having trouble starting Windows in Safe Mode using one of the typical methods above? Try other options to force Windows to restart in Safe Mode.