Written by Barry Dysert (last updated April 24, 2017)
There may come a time when you need to start your computer in Safe Mode. For example, you may have acquired some malware, a driver may be acting up, or the Desktop is not loading. Safe Mode is a special way to start up your computer "safely," i.e., before networking and a lot of the operating system is loaded. With this stripped-down version you may be able to identify whatever problem you're having and fix it.
The easiest way to boot into Safe Mode is from the login screen. When that is up, instead of logging in you instead press and hold Shift, click Power, and then select Restart (holding down Shift the whole time). When Windows restarts you'll be presented with a screen that gives you three choices of how to proceed: Continue, Troubleshoot, or Turn off your PC. If you click Continue, your boot process will continue normally like it always does. If you instead click Turn off your PC, your computer will obviously shut down. So to boot into Safe Mode you want to select the Troubleshoot option.
The next window that appears is the Troubleshoot window. It has two options, and for our purposes you want to choose the Advanced Options item. When the Advanced Options window appears, choose Startup Settings and finally Restart.
Now the computer boots but instead of directly booting into Windows, you're presented with a Startup Settings screen, which has several options. Entering option 4, for example, enables Safe Mode. Option 5 enables Safe Mode with networking, and Option 6 enables Safe Mode with a command prompt.
It is well beyond the scope of this tip to tell you how to proceed from this point. For one thing, it totally depends on the symptoms you were having which prompted you to enter Safe Mode to begin with. Troubleshooting at this level often requires a knowledge of Windows "under the hood," can often be a trial-and-error exercise, and is not for the faint of heart. At this point you may realize that the best thing to do is simply shut down and take your machine to a local computer repair shop.
This tip (181) applies to Windows 10.
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