How to Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode

Safe mode in Windows 10 allows you to troubleshoot various problems on a computer. You can use one of many ways to boot your Windows 10 PC in safe mode.

You can use a built-in app, select an option on the login screen, and even utilize an installation drive to start Windows 10 in safe mode.

Use Settings to Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode

Use Settings to boot your PC in safe mode if you are able to turn on and log into your PC without any issues. 

Make sure you save your unsaved work and close all your apps before you perform this procedure. 

  1. Launch the Settings app by pressing Windows + I keys at the same time. You can also search for Settings in the Start menu to launch this app.
  1. Select Update & Security at the bottom.
  1. Select Recovery from the left sidebar on the Update & Security screen.
  1. Select the Restart now button under Advanced startup in the middle of the Recovery screen.
  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.
  1. Choose Advanced options on the following screen.
  1. Select Startup Settings.
  1. Select the Restart button.
  1. On the following screen, type 4 to enter safe mode. Type 5 to boot in safe mode with networking. Use number 6 to enter safe mode with access to Command Prompt.

Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode From the Login Screen

If your PC turns on but won’t go past the login screen, you can use an option on this screen itself to boot into safe mode. 

  1. While you’re on the login screen on your PC, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, select the power icon at the bottom-right corner, and choose Restart.
  1. When you get to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.
  1. Enter the BitLocker key when prompted if you’ve encrypted your contents with BitLocker.
  2. You now have various options to reboot your PC. Press number 4 to enter safe mode, number 5 to use safe mode with networking, and number 6 to use Command Prompt in safe mode.

Use System Configuration to Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode

Windows 10 includes a utility called System Configuration where you can boot your PC in safe mode by following the steps below. 

Note: Your PC will always boot in safe mode until you disable the safe mode option in the System Configuration utility.

  1. Open the Start menu on your PC, search for System Configuration, and select the utility in the search results.
  1. Select the Boot tab at the top.
  1. Enable the box for Safe boot under Boot options. Furthermore, choose the Network option if you want to access the local network or the internet in safe mode.
  1. Select Apply and then select OK at the bottom of the window.
  1. A prompt will appear asking you to reboot your PC. Select Restart in this prompt to boot your PC in safe mode.

To stop your computer from starting in safe mode, open System Configuration, go to the Boot tab, and disable the Safe boot option. Then, select Apply and select OK to save your changes.

Enter Windows 10 Safe Mode From a Blank Screen

If your PC only displays a blank or black screen, you can still reboot your PC into safe mode.

  1. Turn off your Windows 10 PC.
  1. Press the Power button to turn your PC on. 
  1. Repeat Steps 1 and 2, 3 times. 
  1. When you turn on the PC for the 3rd time, windows will take you to the Choose an option screen. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.
  1. On the following screen, press the number displayed next to safe mode to boot your PC in safe mode.

Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode From an Installation Drive

In a situation where your PC can’t turn on and you’re unable to access the login screen, you can use Windows 10’s installation media to get into safe mode.

Plug in the Windows 10 bootable media into your PC and follow the steps below:

  1. On the Windows Setup screen, select a language, choose time and currency formats, select a keyboard method, and select Next at the bottom.
  1. Choose Repair your computer at the bottom.
  1. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt to open a Command Prompt window. 

Now here’s where things get a little tricky. Depending on your version of Windows 10 and how your computer’s boot partitions are set up, you may need to perform some additional steps before trying step 4. First, go ahead and try to type in the command below from the default drive, which will most likely be X: as shown below. 

  1. Type bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal on the Command Prompt window and press Enter.

If you get a message stating that the command “bcdedit” could not be found, then you have to try other drive letters and get to the Windows/System32 directory. To do this, you can start with drive C. 

At the prompt, type in C: and press Enter. Then type dir and press Enter. If you don’t see the Windows directory, try the next letter, D: and then E: followed by the dir command. Eventually, you’ll see one of them has the Windows directory where Windows 10 is installed. 

Now type in cd Windows/System32. This will bring you into the directory where bcdedit.exe is located. Now you can type in the command in Step 4 again and it should work. 

  1. Close the Command Prompt window.
  1. Select Continue on your screen and your PC should boot into safe mode.

Initially, this method didn’t work for us in our testing, however, once we found the Windows partition and navigated to the correct folder, we were able to run the command. 

Bonus Tip: How to Exit Safe Mode

To boot your PC back into normal mode:

  1. Open the Start menu while your PC is in safe mode.
  2. Type in system config and click on System Configuration
  1. On the General tab, go ahead and select the Normal Startup radio button. 
  1. On the Boot tab, go ahead and uncheck the Safe boot box. 
  1. Finally, click on Start, select the Power option and choose Restart.
  1. Your PC will reboot into normal mode.

Did any of these methods enable you to boot your Windows 10 PC in safe mode? Let us know which method worked in the comments below!