Booting into safe-mode in Windows 10

Safe mode starts Windows with a limited set of drivers and essential windows processes. When Windows starts in normal mode, many third-party applications start along with it. This does not happen when you are starting in safe mode. Which of the Windows files gets loaded depend on the type of safe mode you choose; the two main types are Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking. Safe Mode with Networking, as the name implies, adds networking support to the basic Safe Mode.

Boot into safe-mode using msconfig

This is the old method which works in Windows 7 as well.
WIN+R to launch Run
Type msconfig
System Configuration Window with boot tab selected
Select the Safe boot checkbox and choose the type of safe boot you want.

  • Minimal is the normal safe boot.
  • Network is Safe Mode with Networking Enabled.
  • Alternate shell starts the command prompt without any GUI support.
  • Active Directory Repair is used for repairing an active directory server.

Click OK, you will be prompted to restart the computer. Click the Restart button, to restart immediately. Click Exit without restart button, if you plan to restart later. The next time you restart, the computer will boot into safe mode.

Once you are done with safe-mode, remember to come back to the same window and disable safe-boot.

Safe-mode using the Boot Options Menu

This is the new Microsoft recommended way to access safe mode. It has been available since Windows 8. The Boot Options Menu is not for safe mode alone; it is a be a single menu which gives you access to all the boot related options available in Windows.

If you are interested only in safe mode,  you will find the new Menu quite tedious to navigate. But remember that the menu gives access to a large number of options besides the Windows startup options. It is highly recommended that you become familiar with this menu, especially if you are using UEFI.

There are multiple ways to access the Boot Options Menu; to see the options available please see how to access the Boot Options Menu in Windows 10. The first three options are for a scenario where you are unable to boot Windows normally. The next three are really easy but they require you to start Windows successfully first. Pick an option which is appropriate for you.

Once you have successfully opened the Boot Options Menu, follow these steps.
In the first screen titled “Choose an option”, choose Troubleshoot.
Main Screen of Windows's Boot Options MenuIn the Troubleshoot screen choose Advanced Options.
Troubleshoot screen of the Windows Boot Options MenuIn the Advanced Options screen, choose Startup Settings
Advanced Options Screen of the Boot Options MenuThe Startup Settings screen shows you the options that would become available once you restart. Click the Restart button.

Startup Settings Screen Before Restart

After the restart, you will see the actual Startup Settings Menu, which is quite similar to the Advanced Boot Options Menu in Windows 7. Use either the numeric keys or function keys to select which startup option you want. For the normal Safe Mode press 4 or F4.
Startup Settings Menu

What is the deal with two restarts?

Those of you who reached the Boot Options Menu by clicking restart from inside Windows might be wondering why you need to restart twice to enter safe mode. There is actually only one restart involved. Windows just terminate all the non-essential processes and show the Boot Options Menu. At this stage, the computer has not yet finished the shutdown. The restart would complete only when you click the restart button in the boot options menu.

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