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How do I boot to Safe Mode in Windows 10?

Booting to Safe Mode in Windows 10 isn't the same process as it was in older versions of the operating system.

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Windows 10 how-to guide

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Safe Mode has been a key Windows feature for many years. It allows you to boot the Windows operating system with a minimal driver set.

When the installation of an incorrect device driver renders a computer unbootable, Safe Mode can allow Windows to boot -- with limited OS functionality. This way, you can remove the offending device driver and replace it with the correct one. In some cases, Safe Mode can also allow you to recover from certain configuration changes that made the operating system unusable. For example, if the display resolution were set to a mode that the computer's video card or monitor does not support, the operating system might not display anything even though Windows is running. Booting to Safe Mode gives you the chance to reset the display resolution.

In older versions of Windows, you can enter Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key in the early phases of the boot process. This causes Windows to display a boot menu. You could then use the arrow keys to select the Safe Mode option, and then press Enter to boot into Safe Mode. But this process does not let you boot to Safe Mode in Windows 10.

If Windows 10 is not booting properly, you must boot from a Windows 10 installation disk. When the computer boots, choose the Repair Your Computer option. When prompted, click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt. Windows will take you to the Command Prompt window. Next, enter the following commands:

C:

BCDEDIT /SET {DEFAULT} BOOTMENUPOLICY LEGACY

EXIT

Now reboot the computer. You should now be able to use the F8 key to access the boot menu. Microsoft documentation outlines the other methods for accessing Safe Mode.

Next Steps

How to solve infinite reboots

What to do when Windows won't shut down

Compare Windows 10 with older OSes

This was last published in July 2016

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What problems has Safe Mode helped you fix?
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For me the only time I use safe mode is to get rid of a stubborn virus that is not removed during normal scans.
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