Last Resort to Boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8 or Newer

I haven’t experimented with Windows 8 very much so far, but apparently, starting with Windows 8 it’s now a lot more difficult (but not impossible) to restart in Safe Mode …

Microsoft optimized the boot process of its Windows 8 operating system in a way that it is booting faster than previous versions of Windows. A side-effect of this is that it is difficult to get the operating system to load Safe Mode. The mode is useful to troubleshoot the operating system. You can use it for example to undo changes or uninstall software that you have recently installed on the system.

While you can hammer on F8 and hope that you get lucky, provided you don’t run a computer with UEFI, it may take quite a few attempts to find the right spot and get the advanced boot menu to be displayed on the screen.

I recently ran into a situation where I could not sign in to Windows 10 anymore. The system would display the user accounts but would just stop doing anything after the password was entered.

This meant that I could not use the built-in options to restart the operating system in Safe Mode, and since it was a PC with UEFI, I could not try to get into Safe Mode using the F8 key as well. Holding down Shift while selecting Restart on the login prompt did not work either even though I’m pretty sure it worked in previous builds.


This left me with two options: boot from installation media or a recovery disc, or find another option to get the operating system to display the troubleshooting screen automatically on start.

How you do that? The way I did it was to hit the reset button while the operating system was still loading. The advanced boot menu is displayed automatically when the system noticed that previous attempts to load it did not succeed.

Note: This may cause issues of its own and should only be seen as a last resort.

So, hitting the reset button while Windows 10 was loading resulted in the display of the advanced boot menu after the restart.

There I selected Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings, restarted the PC again to select 4) Enable Safe Mode on start.

This is not the most comfortable of options considering that it is difficult to get into the advanced boot menu in first place and that the PC will restart at least once after you make your selection.

The method works fine in Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows including the most recent build of Windows 10.

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