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Windows 8 Safe Mode: How to boot into it and four other easy ways to access it

Updated on February 13, 2013

Windows 8 Safe Mode to the rescue!

Booting into Safe Mode in Windows 8 can be tricky but necessary to kill the errors and the naughty bugs that prevents the system from booting up.
Booting into Safe Mode in Windows 8 can be tricky but necessary to kill the errors and the naughty bugs that prevents the system from booting up.

Windows Safe Mode?

Since the first versions of Microsoft Windows 3.x which was released 22 years ago on May 22, 1990, there has been a safe mode that the users can access when their computers are malfunctioning. A safe mode is a diagnostics mode that is supported on almost all modern operating systems such as, Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, Linux, *BSD and *nix. The safe mode is meant to allow the user to access the operating system by loading minimal amounts of drivers and background services when the operating system otherwise cannot boot normally. The safe mode of Microsoft Windows can help the users in fixing a erroneous driver or a program that they may have installed by accident, or fixing a malfunctioning hardware that is preventing the operating system from booting up normally.

Throughout the years, Microsoft has more or less used the same method to access the Microsoft Windows Safe Mode which is to press the F8 button upon starting/booting the computer. This approach has worked for Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows 98SE, Microsoft Windows Millennium, Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7 (excluding the server versions which all also supported the F8 approach).

However, with the launch of the Microsoft Windows 8, for some reason, Microsoft has hidden away the function to allow a user to boot up in Safe Mode to fix potential problems in the operating system. This article aims to describe 5 easy ways for users of Microsoft Windows 8 to access the safe mode that Microsoft obviously do not want the average users to find.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

First method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.
First method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.

How to boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode - Method I:

This method is probably the most useful one for users with a malfunctioning Windows 8 installation that does not boot normally. Even though Microsoft has disabled the simple F8 approach, the trick now is to actually hold down the Shift button while hitting the F8 key repeatably during boot up. Notice though that this approach may require several tries as Microsoft Windows 8 boots up very quickly and will spend very little time waiting for the user to give the Shift + F8 command. When the user succeeds, the user should enter the Recovery Mode menu. The procedure is outlines below:

  1. Start up your computer and already from the beginning hold down the Shift key on your keyboard.
  2. Repeatably and quickly smash the F8 key during the whole booting process. If you are "lucky" this will take you into the Recovery Mode menu before the operating system begins to load.
  3. In the Recovery Mode menu, select See advanced repair options.
  4. Choose the Troubleshoot option.
  5. Select the Advanced options button.
  6. Select the Windows Startup Settings button.
  7. Click the Restart button.

After the the computer restarts, you should be greeted by the old and familiar Advanced Boot Options menu that enables you to boot your Windows 8 in Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking and Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

Second method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.
Second method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.

How to boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode - Method II:

This approach assumes that you can enter and boot up Microsoft Windows 8 normally as it will use the new Charm Bar in Microsoft Windows 8.

  1. Bring up the Charm Bar by either pressing the Win + I keys or swiping your mouse across the right side of the screen.
  2. When the Charm Bar pops up, click on the Change PC Settings button at the bottom right.
  3. Select General and click the Restart now button under the Advanced startup title.

When the computer restarts now you should enter the Safe Mode of Microsoft Windows 8.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

Third method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.
Third method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.

How to boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode - Method III:

Similar to the previous method to enter the Safe Mode, this method also requires the user to be able to boot into Microsoft Windows 8 normally. For this method we will once again utilize the Charm Bar in Microsoft Windows 8.

  1. Bring up the Charm Bar by either pressing the Win + I keys or swiping your mouse across the right side of the screen.
  2. Click the Power button once.
  3. Hold down your Shift key and click the Restart icon.

That is all you have to do for this method. When the computer restarts you should be greeted by the Advanced Boot Options menu that will allow you to access the Safe Mode of Microsoft Windows 8.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

Fourth method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.
Fourth method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.

How to boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode - Method IV:

In this method, we will use the command line to tell Microsoft Windows 8 to reboot into Safe Mode. Obviously, this method also requires the user to be able to enter Windows 8 through a normal boot.

  1. Press the Win + R key to enter the Run dialogue.
  2. Type in the command: shutdown /o /r
  3. Press Enter.

After pressing Enter the computer should start the reboot process. Once it boots up again, the user will be able to access the Microsoft Windows 8 Safe Mode environment through the Advanced Boot Options menu.

Windows 8 Safe Mode

Fifth method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.
Fifth method to enter Windows 8 Safe Mode.

How to boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode - Method V:

This final method will use the msconfig configuration tool that has been around Microsoft Windows versions for many years. In order to access the msconfig configuration tool, the user will once again have to be able to boot into Microsoft Windows 8.

  1. Press Win + R to bring up the Windows Run dialogue.
  2. Type msconfig into the input bar and hit Enter.
  3. In the msconfig System Configuration Window go to the Boot tab found at the top.
  4. Check Safe boot under the Boot options title.
  5. There will be some additional options available to check with Minimal being the regular Microsoft Windows 8 Safe Mode, Alternate shell being Safe Mode with command prompt, and Network being Safe Mode with networking.
  6. Click OK which will bring up a dialogue asking the user if a restart should be performed.
  7. Click Restart.

This will restart Microsoft Windows 8. Once the system boots up again it will enter Microsoft Windows 8 using the Safe Mode environment that the user chose in the above steps.


Recommended publications about Windows 8 and Windows RT

  • Differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT: The exact differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT is confusing to many users, in particular when both operating systems were released during the same day. This article discusses the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT and shows that the differences are very major and very important for the end user.
  • How to use Flash on any website in Windows RT and Internet Explorer 10: Using Adobe Flash in Internet Explorer 10 in Windows RT is strictly restricted in Windows RT by default. This articles shows how the user can configure their Windows RT such that Adobe Flash may be used on any website they visit through the default web browser, i.e., Internet Explorer 10.

Summary of the Safe Mode in Microsoft Windows 8

To be honest, it is very unclear what the intentions from Microsoft were to make it so tedious to boot up Microsoft Windows 8 in Safe Mode. While some of the methods outlined above are simple if you know how to execute them, the fact remains that many people who needs to access the Safe Mode cannot boot up Microsoft Windows 8 normally in the first place, therefore, most of the above methods described are simply not applicable.

The reasons to remove the traditional F8 approach to enter Safe Mode will probably never be completely clear. Microsoft Windows 8 does come with a function that will force it to show the Advanced Boot Options menu if the system fails to boot up normally after several attempts. But it would have been much better to not treat its users like idiots and still keep the regular F8 approach, that we are all so familiar with, instead of the new Shift + F8 approach that makes little sense.

Recommended Windows 8 tips and hints

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      ron 4 years ago

      @atechmate.com: makes sense.

    • profile image

      atechmate.com 4 years ago

      Only method II, III and IV are the right ones

      Repeatably and quickly smashing the F8 key during the whole booting process will only lead you to buying a new keyboard and won't boot the Windows in any mode