How to Access Advanced Startup Options in Windows 11, 10, or 8

6 Methods for accessing the ASO Boot Menu in Windows 11, 10, or 8

What to Know

  • Hold down SHIFT while restarting, or go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Restart now.
  • If Windows does not start, boot from your Windows installation media or a recovery drive.
  • To boot directly into ASO, choose the boot option for System Recovery, Advanced Startup, Recovery, etc.

This article explains how to access the Advanced Startup Options in Windows 11, 10, or 8.

What Are Advanced Startup Options in Windows?

The Advanced Startup Options (ASO) menu, available in Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8, is the central fix-it location for the entire operating system.

From here you can access Windows diagnostic and repair tools like Reset This PC, System Restore, Command Prompt, Startup Repair, and much more.

It's also where you access Startup Settings, the menu that includes Safe Mode, among other startup methods that could help you access Windows if it's having problems starting. In other words, Advanced Startup Options functions as the Windows 11/10/8 boot menu.

Person Shift-clicking Restore in Windows Start menu
Lifewire / Daniel Fishel 

How Do I Access Windows Advanced Startup Options?

This menu should appear automatically after two consecutive startup errors. However, if you need to open it manually, there are six different ways to do so.

The best way to decide which method to use is to base your decision on what level of access you have to Windows right now:

  • If Windows starts normally: Use any method, but 1, 2, or 3 will be easiest.
  • If Windows does not start: Use methods 4, 5, or 6. Method 1 will also work if you can at least get to the Windows logon screen.

Time Required: Accessing ASO is easy and can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on which method you use.

All of these means of getting to the Advanced Startup Options menu work equally well in any edition of Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 unless noted otherwise.

Method 1: SHIFT + Restart

This is by far the easiest way to get this done. Just hold down either SHIFT key while selecting Restart, available from any power icon.

Power icons are available throughout Windows, as well as from the sign-in/lock screen.

Restart with Shift key held down in Windows 10

All you do now is wait while the Advanced Startup Options menu opens!

This method doesn't seem to work with the on-screen keyboard. You'll need to have a physical keyboard connected to your computer or device to open it this way.

Method 2: Settings Menu

  1. In Windows 11, right-click the Start button and choose Settings.

    In Windows 10, select the Start button, and then choose the settings button followed by Update & Security.

    In Windows 8, swipe from the right to open the charms bar. Select Change PC settings. Choose Update and recovery from the list on the left (or General prior to Windows 8.1).

  2. Choose Recovery from the list of options.

    Recovery highlighted in Windows 11 system settings
  3. In the Advanced startup section, select Restart now.

    Restart now highlighted in Windows 11 system recovery options
  4. Wait through the Please wait message until Advanced Startup Options opens.

Method 3: Shutdown Command

  1. Open Command Prompt.

    Another option is to open Run (use the WIN+R keyboard shortcut) if you can't get Command Prompt started for some reason, probably related to the issue you're having that has you here in the first place!

  2. Save any open files before continuing or you'll lose any changes you've made since your last save.

  3. Execute the shutdown command in the following way:

    shutdown /r /o
    Shutdown command in Windows 10 Command Prompt

    To cancel the shutdown command once executed (like if you forgot to save your work!) execute shutdown /a in the same Command Prompt window.

  4. Select Close to the signoff warning message that appears a few seconds later.

    Close highlighted in the You're about to be signed out message on Windows 10
  5. After several seconds, during which nothing seems to be happening, Windows will then close and you'll see a Please wait message.

  6. Wait just a few seconds more until the Advanced Startup Options menu opens.

Method 4: Boot From Your Windows Installation Media

  1. Insert into your computer a Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8 DVD or a flash drive with the Windows installation files on it.

    You can borrow someone else's disc (or other media) if you need to. You're not installing or reinstalling Windows, you're just accessing Advanced Startup Options—no product key or license breaking required.

  2. Boot from the disc or boot from the USB device, whatever your situation calls for.

  3. Select Next from the Windows Setup screen.

  4. Choose Repair your computer at the bottom of the window.

    Repair your computer highlighted in Windows 10 setup
  5. Advanced Startup Options will start, almost immediately.

Method 5: Boot From a Windows 11/10/8 Recovery Drive

  1. Insert your Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8 Recovery Drive into a free USB port.

    Don't worry if you weren't proactive and never got around to creating a Recovery Drive. If you or a friend has a computer with the same version of Windows, see How to Create a Windows Recovery Drive for instructions.

  2. Boot your computer from the flash drive.

  3. On the Choose your keyboard layout screen, select U.S. or whatever keyboard layout you'd like to use.

  4. Advanced Startup Options will begin instantly.

Method 6: Boot Directly to Advanced Startup Options

  1. Start or restart your computer or device.

  2. Choose the boot option for System Recovery, Advanced Startup, Recovery, etc.

    On some Windows 11/10/8 computers, for example, pressing F11 starts System Recovery.

    What this option is called is configurable by your hardware maker, so the options mentioned here are just some that we've seen or heard. Whatever the name, it should be clear that what you're about to do is a boot to the advanced recovery features included in Windows.

    The ability to boot directly to Advanced Startup Options isn't one that's available with a traditional BIOS. Your computer will need to support UEFI and then also be configured properly to boot directly to the ASO menu. Fortunately, this is very common these days.

  3. Wait for Advanced Startup Options to begin.

What About F8 and SHIFT+F8?

Neither F8 nor SHIFT+F8 is a reliable option for booting to the Advanced Startup Options menu. See our guide on how to start Windows in Safe Mode for more on this.

If you need to access Advanced Startup Options, you can do so with any of the several methods listed above.

How to Exit Advanced Startup Options

Whenever you're finished using the ASO menu, you can choose Continue to restart your computer. Assuming it's working properly now, this will boot you back into Windows.

Your other option is Turn off your PC, which will do just that.

  • How do I change the default startup OS in the Boot Menu?

    Press the Windows key + X and then select Run to open the Run window, or press the Windows key + R to open the Run window immediately. Type in "msconfig" and select OK to run MSConfig. Select the Boot tab, then choose the OS type you want to set as the new default and select Set as default > Apply > OK.

  • How do I remove items from the Windows 10 boot menu?

    Press the Windows key + R to open the Run window, then type in "msconfig" and press Enter. Select the Boot tab, choose the item you want to remove, then select Delete.

  • How do I enable the F12 boot menu in Windows 10?

    You'll need to access your computer's BIOS, which you can do by pressing the correct key on your keyboard multiple times as Windows is starting up. Depending on the manufacturer this could be F12, F2, Esc, or Delete. Then select your desired boot device from the list.

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