Enabling Safe Mode

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 11, 2019)

2

In other issues of WindowsTips you've discovered how to use Safe Mode to start Windows with only the bare essentials necessary to run the operating system. Safe Mode is essential to tracking down problems caused by errant drivers and startup programs.

Problem is, Windows 10 doesn't allow you to start up in Safe Mode. In fact, the traditional method (pressing F8 while Windows is starting) does nothing in Windows 10, by default. What's a geek to do?

Well, you can fortunately enable the F8 method if you follow these steps:

  1. Start Windows 10 as you normally would.
  2. Right-click the Start menu to display a number of choices. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. Context menu after right-clicking on the Start menu.

  4. Choose Windows PowerShell (Admin). (Make sure it is the Admin option, not the Windows PowerShell option without the Admin privileges.) Windows displays the User Account Control asking if you want to allow changes to be made.
  5. Click Yes. The dialog box disappears, and the Command Prompt window is displayed.
  6. At the command prompt, type the following and then press Enter.
  7.      bcdedit /set bootmenupolicy legacy
    
  8. Close the Command Prompt window.

After pressing Enter in step 5, Windows should have displayed a message indicating that the operation was completed successfully. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Administrator: Windows PowerShell.

You can then reboot, as desired. You should notice that Windows 10 is a bit slower to boot than normal, but that's because you've instructed it to slow down just a bit so it can check if you've pressed F8.

Because these steps must be done while Windows 10 is running, it's a good idea to make sure that you enable Safe Mode before you may actually need it. That way it will be ready and waiting for you should you run into a boot-up problem sometime down the road.

If you later want to restore the regular booting process of Windows 10 (so that F8 is ignored), simply repeat the same steps detailed above, substituting the word "standard" for "legacy" in step 5.

These are the steps you should follow if your system is running an earlier version of Windows 10.

  1. Start Windows 10 as you normally would.
  2. Right-click the Start menu to display a number of choices.
  3. Choose Command Prompt (Admin). (Make sure it is the Admin option, not the Command Prompt option without Admin privileges.) Windows displays the User Account Control, asking if you want to allow changes to be made.
  4. Click Yes. The dialog box disappears, and the Command Prompt window is displayed.
  5. At the command prompt, type the following and then press Enter.
  6.      bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
    

    (Note that what you enter in step 5 uses braces around the default keyword, not normal parentheses.)

  7. Close the Command Prompt window.

 This tip (13434) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight less than 8?

2016-02-22 12:14:48

Henry Noble

Alan, my testing indicates this Tip is valid.

Run bcdedit without any parameters and look at the last line of the output. If it says "standard", then the set command did not work. Try it again and make sure you get the "operation completed successfully" response. If still no success, then there is a system problem beyond the scope of this brief comment.

If bcdedit reports bootmenupolicy has changed to "legacy", then your problem may be that the maker of your PC's BIOS (unwisely) chose to use F8 to invoke the bootmanager popup menu. The popup menu enables you to try to boot from any physical device the PC thinks may be bootable.


2016-02-22 09:56:14

Alan Cameron

After modifying the bootmenupolicy as indicated I tried to enter safe mode while booting. All I get is a dialog titled Please select boot device with the following options

Windows Boot Manager
P3: HL-DT-ST BDDVDRW UH12NS30
Intel Volume 0 (1812374MB)
Hitachi HDT72010SLA360 (953869MB)
WDC WD20EZRX-00D8PB0 (1907729MB)
Enter Setup

No safe mode appeared on selecting Boot manager.


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