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How to restart your computer in Windows safe mode

SOLVEDby Intuit2Updated October 13, 2023

Safe mode starts Windows with a limited set of files and basic drivers. Startup programs, or programs that automatically start after the system has booted up, don't run in safe mode.

If you recently installed a program, device, or driver that's preventing Windows from running correctly, starting your computer in safe mode will make it easier to narrow down and remove the program that's causing the program.

Select the instructions for your operating system below to learn how to start your computer in Windows safe mode.

You can access the Safe Mode option after enabling Advanced Startup Settings.

Follow these steps to enable Advanced Startup Settings:

  1. Click the Power button on the Windows login screen.
    • You can also click the Start Menu button.
  2. Press and hold the Shift on your keyboard and click Restart.
  3. When Windows asks you to choose an option, select Troubleshoot.
  4. Select Advanced Options.
  5. Select Startup Settings.
  6. Click Restart.
  7. Wait for the computer to restart and display the Advanced Startup Settings screen. 
  8. Choose an option using the keyboard:
    •  Press 4 for Safe Mode
    • Press 5 for Safe Mode with Networking
      • This option allows you to access the internet.

If you're not able to access the Advanced Startup Settings menu using the Shift + Restart option, the following command is an alternate way to bring it up:

  1. Click the Start Menu.
  2. Type CMD.
  3. In the search results, click Command Prompt.
  4. In the Command Prompt window that opens, type shutdown /r /o and press Enter.
  5. After Windows restarts and the Advanced Startup Settings menu appears, continue with step 3 from the previous set of instructions.

Refer to this Microsoft resource for more instructions on starting Windows in safe mode.  

  1. Remove all floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs from your computer.
  2. Restart your computer.
    • You can do this by clicking the Start button, clicking the arrow next to Shut Down, and choosing Restart.

Next, do one of the following:

  1. If your computer has a single operating system installed, press and hold the F8 key as your computer restarts.
    • You need to press F8 before the Windows logo appears. If the Windows logo appears, you'll need to try restarting your computer again.
  2. If your computer has more than one operating system, use the arrow keys to highlight the operating system you want to start in safe mode, and then press F8.
  3. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight the safe mode option you want, and then press Enter.
  4. Log on to your computer with a user account that has administrator rights.

When your computer is in safe mode, you'll see the words Safe Mode in the corner of your monitor. To exit safe mode, restart your computer and let Windows start normally.  

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