Use F8 to boot Windows 10 into Safe Mode again - Other methods also shown

Andrew LeniartBlogger, Journalist, IT Professional, Tech Writer, Qualified Editor
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IT Professional - Helping others to help themselves. https://andrewleniart.com & https://www.computerhelpzone.com.au/testimonial/
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Frustrated trying to get Windows 10 to boot into Safe mode when you need it to? Do you miss tapping the F8 key that earlier versions of Windows had?

If so, then I'm with you, so I changed my copy of Windows 10 to accept F8 for Safe Mode once again. Read on to learn how...

Booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode 


For reasons best known to themselves, with the release of Windows 10, Microsoft removed the functionality of tapping the F8 key when rebooting to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode. A function which existed since back in old Windows 98 and XP days. 


So, just as Windows users had finally gotten used to tapping their function key to boot into Safe Mode, Microsoft went and removed that shortcut, and for no good reason that I can figure. Just a change made for the sake of change in my opinion and that frustrated me, so I did something about it.


Search Google for the above heading and you'll find tons of blogs and articles written on a wide variety of ways to get Windows 10 to boot into safe mode - most of them that are, in this author's opinion - long-winded and unnecessarily complicated. Often they can't be used because of problems you're having that may need safe mode to fix. 


Some of the other simpler methods of booting Windows 10 to safe mode will also be shown below, but if you prefer to be able to restart into Safe Mode the old fashioned way, by tapping the F8 key, then you've come to the right place.


Restore F8 Safe Mode booting to Windows 10


To restore the function of tapping the F8 key to get into safe mode, you will first need to ensure you have Fast Boot turned off in BIOS or UEFI settings if your motherboard supports that function. The steps for turning hardware fast boot off can differ depending on the manufacturer of your motherboard, but most should support it. Check the manual for your motherboard on the manufacturer's website that will explain the steps you need to take. Usually, it's pressing the Delete or a Function key after restarting your computer to get into the BIOS or UEFI setup screen.


A quick check you can do is: 


Press your Windows Key + R 

Type msinfo32 into the Run box and then press your Enter key. 


Check the right-hand pane of the System Information window that pops up. If you see an entry there that says BIOS Mode Legacy, you should be good to go.


Also, be aware that F8 won't work if you make use of Windows 10 Sleep or Hibernation feature. You'll need to turn those off. I personally find Sleep and Hibernation are more troublesome than they're worth on Desktop computers and don't even bother with them on any of my Laptops, but your mileage may differ.


Next, you will need to enable the Legacy Advanced Boot Options menu in Windows 10. The process to do that is incredibly simple and I've found that it works perfectly well on the Windows 10 systems that I've tested it on, without any negative effects.


First, open an administrator enabled command prompt.


  • Press your Windows Key and type CMD
  • Right-Click the Command Prompt result and select Run as administrator


Screenshot showing Command Prompt Desktop app and Run as administrator available when right clicked


  • Click Yes to the User Account Control (UAC) prompt


Screenshot showing User Account Control UAC prompt. Click the Yes button


  • A DOS administrator command prompt opens. Enter the following command into the DOS window which will re-enable the F8 method of being able to get into Safe Mode on Windows 10.


Type BCDEDIT /SET {DEFAULT} BOOTMENUPOLICY LEGACY and press your Enter key

Type Exit and press your Enter key to close the DOS prompt


Enable F8 Tapping Functionality


If you restart your computer now, providing your hardware supports it, you'll find that you can once again tap the F8 key to get to the Advanced Boot Options menu in Windows 10, just like you could in Windows 7 and earlier.


Snapshot of the Advanced Boot Options screen available after tapping the F8 key on keyboard when restarting windows


If you find the above did not work on your system and you're sure that Fast Boot has been disabled on your motherboard and that both Sleep and Hibernation have been turned off in Windows 10, then no harm was done. 


If you want to reverse the above command, simply open an administrator command prompt as shown before and enter the following commands.


Type BCDEDIT /SET {DEFAULT} BOOTMENUPOLICY STANDARD and press your Enter key

Type Exit and press your Enter key to close the DOS prompt


Disable F8 Tapping Functionality


With the above commands run, you are back to where you started. Read on to see some alternative methods for starting Windows 10 in safe mode.


Alternate ways of booting Windows 10 into Safe Mode


As mentioned at the start of this article, there are already tons of articles and blogs written on a variety of ways to get Windows 10 to boot into safe mode, so I'm not going to go into a great deal of detail here on other methods. Just the basic steps needed. 


If you need further clarification, post a comment below this article or use the Ask a Question feature of Experts Exchange to get help.


Method 1: (BootSafe - Highly recommended)


Use a small and free standalone downloadable utility created by one of Experts Exchange experts. It's called BootSafe and I've written a review of this great little tool, along with how to use it here:



Method 2: (Use System Configuration)


  1. Press your Windows Key, type System Configuration and hit your Enter key
  2. Select the Boot tab on the system configuration dialogue window that pops up
  3. Place a Tick in the Safe Boot box under "Boot options". Choose either "Minimal", "Alternate shell", "Active Directory repair" or "Network" and click OK
  4. You will be prompted to "Restart" or "Exit without restart" Selecting "Restart" will restart Windows 10 to immediately boot into the safe mode configuration selected in Step 3. "Exit without restart" will cause Windows 10 to boot into the selected safe mode configuration on the next restart


Method 3: (Interrupt Windows 10 booting 3 times in a row)


Windows 10 has been programmed so that if it can't boot three times in a row, on the fourth try it will automatically enter what's called Automatic Repair. To interrupt windows booting three times in a row, just power down or press the restart button on your computer as soon as you see Windows 10 loading. If you're successful, Windows 10 will show a "Preparing Automatic Repair" window on the fourth boot attempt.


  1. When you see the "Your PC did not start correctly" message, do not click Restart - rather, click the Advanced options button.
  2. Now click the "Troubleshoot - Reset your PC or see advanced options" button
  3. On the next Troubleshoot screen, click "Advanced options" again
  4. Next, click the "Startup Settings - Change Windows startup behavior" button. Note: If you don't see this button yet, click the "See more recovery options" link and it will appear.
  5. Now on the Startup Settings" screen, click the Restart button
  6. After Windows 10 reboots one more time, you will have three options to choose from. 4) Enable Safe Mode 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking 6) Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt
  7. Press either the numbers 4, 5, or 6 (or F4, F5, F6) to restart Windows 10 into the Safe Mode configuration desired and Windows 10 will restart in that mode.


See what I meant by "long-winded" at the start of this article?!


Method 4: (Boot into Safe Mode while logged into Windows 10 desktop)


You can initiate a different login sequence on Windows 10 by holding down your Shift key when you click on Restart from the Windows 10 start menu.


  1. Click the Start button in Windows 10, and click the Power button
  2. Hold down your Shift Key and then click Restart
  3. When Windows restarts, you will be presented with a Choose an option screen
  4. Click the Troubleshoot - Reset your PC or see advanced options button
  5. Now just follow the same steps in Method 3 described above


Method 5: (Use Windows 10 bootable media like a DVD or USB thumb drive)


If you don't have a bootable Windows 10 DVD or USB thumb drive handy, create one as per my article on the topic here: 



  1. Boot the machine with your Windows 10 DVD or USB thumb drive and follow the prompts
  2. Once you've gone through the initial prompts, and at the "Choose your keyboard layout" screen, click on the
    See more keyboard layouts option
  3. Once again, you'll end up on the "Choose an option" screen
  4. Click the Troubleshoot - Reset your PC or see advanced options button
  5. Again, follow the same steps in Method 3 described above


As you can see, there are multiple ways to get Windows 10 to boot into Safe Mode, but all of them are, in this authors opinion, far more long-winded than necessary. The only exception to this is the BootSafe utility mentioned in Method 1 above.


Know of another way to get into Safe Mode on Windows 10? I invite you to share your method in the comments section below this article.


Finally, if you think this article was helpful, please do click the Thumbs Up icon to the bottom left of this text. It helps me out and lets me know the direction I should take for future articles that I write. Thanks very much!


Regards, Andrew Leniart


Image of arrow pointing down to the Thumbs Up icon

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Andrew LeniartBlogger, Journalist, IT Professional, Tech Writer, Qualified Editor
CERTIFIED EXPERT
IT Professional - Helping others to help themselves. https://andrewleniart.com & https://www.computerhelpzone.com.au/testimonial/

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