Boot Windows 8 into Safe Mode

We all have gotten accustomed to pressing either F2 or F8 to get the advanced boot options since Windows 2000, probably even before that. In every version of Windows, you always could count on the slower boot process to actually press the key when the text message appeared.

press f8 for boot

Well, those days are gone! In Windows 8, the boot time has been dramatically decreased and the screenshot you see above appears for about 200 milliseconds and that’s it! So if you want to get into Safe Mode in Windows 8, you have to go a different route. Instead of the Advanced Boot Options of earlier versions of Windows, you now first have to go through the System Recovery Options of Windows 8. It’s pretty much the same thing, but just looks a lot nicer and you have to click a few more menu options to get there. Here’s how.

Startup Windows 8 in Safe Mode

To get started, you first need to boot Windows 8 into the System Recovery Options. You can read my previous post on how to do that; there are basically three methods. Once you are there, you need to click on the Troubleshoot option.

troubleshoot windows 8

On the next screen, you need to click on Advanced Options.

advanced options

Then you need to click on Startup Settings on the last dialog.

startup settings

Finally, you have to click on the Restart button, which will give you options to start up in low-resolution mode, debugging mode, enable boot logging, and start in safe mode! Kind of a long process, but that’s the new way.

safe mode

Now you will finally get to the Startup Settings screen, where you can press 1 thru 10 or F1 thru F10 to pick your different settings. Press 4 or F4 to enable Safe Mode.

enable safe mode

That’s it! Windows 8 will now load in Safe Mode! You’ll have to type in your password to log in once it starts back up. I noticed that while in Safe Mode in Windows 8, I could not bring up the Charms bar. Not sure why, but I could not figure out how to restart the system. What I ended up doing was going to the Start Screen, then clicking on my name at the top and there was an option to signed out. Once I signed, there was an option to Shutdown or Restart when I clicked on the Power button at the bottom right. So if you’re stuck in Safe Mode and can’t get out, that’s how do to it.

Also, it should be noted that you can use the MSCONFIG utility to startup in safe mode also. Go to the Start Screen, right-click, then choose All apps and then click on Run.

run command

Next, type in msconfig in the run dialog and then click on the Boot tab:

boot tab

Check the box that says Safe boot and then choose an option. You can pick from:

Minimal – Normal Safe Mode

Alternate shell – Safe Mode with command prompt

Network – Safe Mode with networking

Don’t worry about Active Directory repair, that’s some IT-related option. You can also check the boxes for No GUI boot, Boot log, Base video and OS boot information. Note that when you boot into safe mode using msconfig, it will continuously boot until you go back into msconfig and uncheck the Safe boot option. Enjoy!