Start your PC in safe mode in Windows 10

Safe mode starts Windows in a basic state, using a limited set of files and drivers. If a problem doesn't happen in safe mode, this means that default settings and basic device drivers aren't causing the issue. Observing Windows in safe mode enables you to narrow down the source of a problem, and can help you troubleshoot problems on your PC.

There are two versions of safe mode: Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking. Safe Mode with Networking adds the network drivers and services you'll need to access the Internet and other computers on your network. 

Select from the following sections to find out how to start your PC in safe mode from Settings, from the sign-in screen, or from a black or blank screen.

  1. Press Windows logo key  + I on your keyboard to open Settings. If that doesn't work, select the Start  button, then select Settings .

  2. Select Update & Security  > Recovery .
    Open Recovery Settings

  3. Under Advanced startup, select Restart now.

  4. After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. You may be asked to enter your BitLocker recovery key.

    Choose an option screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Troubleshoot screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Advanced options screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Startup Settings  screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

  5. After your PC restarts, you'll see a list of options. Select 4 or press F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode. Or if you'll need to use the Internet, select 5 or press F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.

When you can’t open Settings to get into safe mode, restart your device from the Windows sign-in screen.  

  1. On the Windows sign-in screen, press and hold the Shift key while you select the Power  > Restart .

  2. After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. You may be asked to enter your BitLocker recovery key.

    Choose an option screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Troubleshoot screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Advanced options screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Startup Settings  screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

  3. After your PC restarts, you'll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to start your PC in safe mode. Or if you'll need to use the Internet, select 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.

Note: If you’ve encrypted your device, you’ll need your BitLocker key to start in safe mode.

Before you enter safe mode, you need to enter the Windows Recovery Environment (winRE). To do this, you will repeatedly turn your device off, then on:

  1. Hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off your device.

  2. Press the power button again to turn on your device.

  3. On the first sign that Windows has started (for example, some devices show the manufacturer’s logo when restarting) hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off your device.

  4. Press the power button again to turn on your device.

  5. When Windows restarts, hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off your device.

  6. Press the power button again to turn on your device.

  7. Allow your device to fully restart. You will enter winRE.

Now that you are in winRE, you will follow these steps to take you to safe mode:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.

    Choose an option screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Troubleshoot screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Advanced options screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

    Startup Settings  screen in the Windows Recovery Environment.

  2. After your device restarts, you'll see a list of options. Select option 5 from the list or press F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.

If you need more info on a black or blank screen error, see Troubleshoot black or blank screen errors.

Notes: If you need to exit safe mode, simply restart your device, or:

  1. Press the Windows logo key R.

  2. Type msconfig in the Open box and then select OK.

  3. Select the Boot tab.

  4. Under Boot options, clear the Safe boot checkbox.

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