Windows: Safe Mode – Start from Boot|Reboot & CMD

Safe Mode in Windows is a special diagnostic mode that allows to use Windows with basic drivers and can help to troubleshoot various problems.

Windows can be started in Safe Mode in different ways, depending on the OS version (Windows 10, 8, 7, XP) and the hardware vendor (Lenovo, DELL, HP, Asus, Acer).

In this note i am showing how to boot Windows 10, 8, 7, XP in Safe Mode from startup (cold boot) and how to restart it and boot it in Safe Mode from a login screen or directly from Windows.

I am also showing how to configure Windows to boot in Safe Mode from the command-line interface (CMD).

Cool Tip: Kill a hanging process in Windows from the CMD! Read more →

Start Windows 10, 8, 7, XP in Safe Mode from Boot

To start Windows 10, 8, 7, XP in Safe Mode from boot, repeatedly press F8 key or one of the key combinations Ctrl + F8 or Shift + F8 or Fn + F8 during the system startup, but before the Windows logo appears (try all these combinations because for different vendors e.g. Lenovo, DELL, HP, Asus, Acer, etc. the key combination for booting in Safe Mode may be different).

Fast Boot: Because of the current fast computers and laptops with fast boot or SSD, it is sometimes complex to catch the exact time frame for pressing the required key combinations during the boot process and it might take several attempts to access the Boot Manager this way.

Restart Windows 10, 8 in Safe Mode

To restart Windows 10, 8 in Safe Mode from login screen or directly from Windows GUI:

  1. Click the Windows Power button, hold down the Shift key and click on Restart
  2. Select Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart. Here you may be asked to enter your BitLocker recovery key.
  3. The relevant options for booting in Safe Mode are the numbers 4,5 or 6
    • Press the keys 4 or F4 to boot in Safe Mode
    • Press the keys 5 or F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking
    • Press the keys 6 or F6 to boot in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Start Windows 10, 8, 7 in Safe Mode from CMD

bcdedit is a command-line tool for managing Boot Configuration Data (BCD).

It requires administrative privileges to modify boot configuration, so firstly it needs to start CMD as administrator.

Press the Win key to open the Start menu, type in cmd to search for the command prompt and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to launch it as administrator.

Configure Windows to boot in Safe Mode:

C:\> bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal 

Configure Windows to boot in Safe Mode with Networking:

C:\> bcdedit /set {current} safeboot network

Configure Windows to boot in Safe Mode with Command Prompt:

C:\> bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal bcdedit /set {default} safebootalternateshell yes

Restart Windows and it will be started in Safe Mode:

C:\> shutdown /r

When you don’t need to boot in Safe Mode anymore, change it back to normal:

C:\> bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot