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How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode

If you’ve ever attempted to troubleshoot your own computer, you’ve likely encountered Safe Mode. Safe Mode is an inbuilt troubleshooting feature which disables unnecessary drivers and programs during the startup process. This allows us to isolate any setting or system errors and fix them at the root, without non-essential applications interfering.
Here we’ll take a quick look at booting into Safe Mode with Windows 10, and what to do if you cannot boot into Safe Mode. Let’s go!

Method One: System Configuration

You can reach the System Configuration screen using Cortana search. Typing either msconfig or system configuration and pressing Enter will open the System Configuration panel. Head to Boot, and note the Boot Options. Selecting Safe Boot from the options will force your system to boot into Safe Mode followings its next restart.
Windows 10 msconfig
You can choose from additional options. Here’s what they do:
  • Minimal: Starts Safe Mode with the absolute minimal amount of drivers and services, but with the standard Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface).
  • Alternate Shell: Starts Safe Mode with a Command Prompt, without the Windows GUI. Requires knowledge of advanced text commands, as well as navigating the operating system without a mouse.
  • Active Directory Repair: Starts Safe Mode with access to machine-specific information, such as hardware models. If we unsuccessfully install new hardware, corrupting the Active Directory, Safe Mode can be used to restore system stability by repairing corrupted data, or adding new data to the directory.
  • Network: Starts Safe Mode with the necessary services and drivers for networking, with the standard Windows GUI.
Select Minimal, followed by Apply, and OK. System Configuration will now ask if you want to restart your system. Selecting Restart will immediately initiate the restart process, so be sure to save any active documents or projects.

Method Two: Tapping



The most common method of reaching Safe Mode is by tapping F8. This brings up the Safe Mode selections during startup, allowing us to choose the operating mode. However, in order to speed the boot process, Windows 10 has F8 Safe Mode disabled. You can sacrifice a couple of seconds during startup by enabling the F8 menu using the Command Prompt.
Begin by opening an elevated Command Prompt. Right-click the Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin). Select Yes in the User Account Control dialogue, if it appears. Command Prompt should now be open.
Windows 10 Start Option
Type (or copy/paste) the following command:
bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
And press Enter. Job done!
Windows 10 Command Prompt BCDEdit
To undo this legacy command at any time, reopen the elevated Command Prompt as per the above instructions and type:
bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard
This returns startup to its original state, so to reach Safe Mode you’ll have to use one of the alternate options in this article.

Method Three: Advanced Startup

For our next trick: Advanced Startup. Chill, my friend. It isn’t that advanced, but it’s really useful to know.
Windows 10 Advanced Startup
Open the Settings menu and head to Update & Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup. Clicking Restart Now will restart your system in recovery mode, where you’ll encounter three options: Continue, Troubleshoot, or Turn off your PC. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options. You’ll now have a range of new options, like so:
Windows 10 Advanced Boot
Click Startup Settings, followed by Restart. Your system will now restart. On reboot, you’ll meet the Startup Settings screen. From here you can choose your required function.

Shortcut

You can skip the somewhat lengthy clicking process by holding down Shift and clicking Restart under Power, found in the Windows 10 Start Menu. This reboot takes you straight to the Recovery options, where you can select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings.
Windows 10 Restart

What If Nothing Works?

Even if none of the above works, you’ve still two aces up your sleeve.
If you’ve installed Windows 10 via a disc or USB, you can boot straight into recovery mode by inserting said disc/USB before turning your system on. Choose your keyboard layout, followed by Repair Your Computer, in the bottom-left of the screen. From here you can head to Troubleshoot > Advanced Optionswhere you’ll find System Restore, System Image Recovery, Startup Repair, Command Prompt, and Go Back to the Previous Build.
Windows 10 Repair Your Computer
For System Image Recovery to work you’ll have to have made an image prior to your system error, something we would absolutely advise you to do. You can create a System Image by typing Recovery into the search bar and selectingRecovery: Control Panel. You’ll now be in Advanced Recovery Tools. SelectCreate a Recovery Drive, and follow the steps.

System Repair Disc

Another helpful tool at your disposal is the System Repair Disc. Unlike the System Image, these aren’t machine specific, so you can acquire one via a friend if all goes completely pear-shaped.
Windows 10 System Repair
If you want to be prepared for that inevitable moment, right-click the Start Menu icon and select Control Panel from the list. Head to System Security > Back-up and Restore (Windows 7). Don’t let the Windows 7 tag put you off: you’re in the right place. Select Create a System Repair Disc from the left-hand column, and follow the instructions.

Safe Mode Mastered

You should now feel very comfortable booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode, using one of three methods outlined above. Make sure to take note of the final section on System Image Recovery and System Repair Discs, remembering the former only works if you’ve set the recovery location before your world began collapsing in aBSOD-induced nightmare.
If you’re really, really in a terrible state of affairs, with no Image Recovery and no repair disc, you could always try tech-support savior Hirens BootCD. It has saved many people, many times, and it’ll save you too!

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