How Do I Start Windows in Safe Mode?

Start in Safe Mode in Windows 8, 7, Vista, or XP

Screenshot of the Startup Settings menu in Windows 8
Startup Settings Menu in Windows 8.

There are lots of reasons you might need to start Windows in Safe Mode and they all involve attempts to solve specific Windows problems.

When you start your computer in Safe Mode in Windows, you can solve all kinds of problems, especially those involving device drivers and DLL files.

You may also be able to troubleshoot some Blue Screen of Death errors and other similar issues that interrupt or prevent Windows from starting normally.

"How Do I Start Windows in Safe Mode?"

You can start Windows in Safe Mode from either the Startup Settings menu or the Advanced Boot Options menu, depending on which version of Windows you're using.

Starting Windows in Safe Mode is fairly simple but the exact method differs a little depending on your operating system:

See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure which of those several versions of Windows is installed on your computer.

Note: Starting Windows in Safe Mode does not, in and of itself, solve, prevent, or cause any kind of Windows problem. Safe Mode is simply a way of starting Windows with a minimum set of drivers and services in the hopes that the operating system will run correctly.

Once Windows is in Safe Mode, you can actually perform whatever problem solving steps that might need to be done.

If you can access Windows normally, you also have the option of configuring Windows to start in Safe Mode automatically the next time your computer starts. See How To Enter Safe Mode Using the System Configuration Utility for instructions on doing this.

Tip: Having trouble starting Windows in Safe Mode using one of the typical methods above?

See How To Force Windows to Restart in Safe Mode for some other ideas.