How to Fix: Safe Mode Windows 10 (F8 Menu) Missing

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jim S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just upgraded to Windows 10. In all previous versions of Windows, pressing F8 during boot would display a menu, where I could then choose 'Safe Mode', 'Safe Mode with Command Prompt', and 'Safe Mode with Networking' - however, pressing F8 during the Windows 10 boot does absolutely nothing. How can I get the Windows 10 Safe Mode during boot? "

My response:

You are correct; the F8 boot menu option is no longer available in Windows 10. Microsoft did away with that option for two main reasons: one being that the F8 menu makes the system less secure; the second is that the F8 menu would be incredibly difficult to access if you have 'fast startup' enabled - which most systems do, by default.

How to access Windows 10 Safe Mode

You can still access Safe Mode in Windows 10, though it would not be through the F8 key as we normally have done in the past. Below I will explain two ways you can access Safe Mode: one is after Windows has booted normally, and the other allows you to boot into Safe Mode before Windows boots - which is what most users will prefer to do.

Option #1: Boot into Safe Mode after a Clean Boot

To access Safe Mode after Windows has successfully boot, do the following:

  1. Click Start and then click on the Settings app.
     
  2. Click on the "Update and Security" icon, then click the option for "Recovery" on the left side.
     
  3. Click the button that says "Restart now" to have your computer restarted with advanced boot options.

After Windows 10 reboots, you can choose which boot options you want enabled, including Safe Mode.

Option #2: Include Safe Mode in your Boot Menu (Permanently)

Most folks would normally only access Safe Mode if they had problems booting their computer in the first place; therefore, booting into Safe Mode only after the computer has booted cleanly (as described in Option #1) seems extremely counter intuitive. To fix this problem, it is possible to 'hack' Windows so that the Safe Mode option is presented before Windows 10 even boots.

Here's how to achieve this:

  1. Login to Windows 10 as you normally would, then open up an administrative command prompt. To do so: click Start and then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list, then right click over top of it and select "Run as Administrator".
     
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the text below:

    bcdedit /copy {Current} /d "Windows 10 Safe Mode with Networking"
    msconfig
    echo this is a dummy line
     
  3. Right click over the highlighted text above, and select Copy.
     
  4. Next, go to the command prompt you opened in Step #1, then right click in the window and select Paste from the dialogue menu. The text you highlighted in Step #2 should now output onto the command line. In case you are wondering, the first command makes a copy of your current boot sequence and names it as "Windows 10 Safe Mode with Networking". In the proceeding steps, we'll make a few adjustments so that this new boot option uses Safe Mode instead of a regular boot.
     
  5. The MsConfig window should now appear; go to the Boot tab near the top, then select the option which reads "Windows 10 Safe Mode with Networking".
     
  6. Under the Boot Options heading, place a check mark beside "Safe Mode", then underneath that, select "Network".
     
  7. To the right of the Boot Options heading, select a Timeout of 5 or 10 seconds (or however long you want the menu displayed), then place a check mark beside "Make all boot settings permanent". Click Yes to confirm your changes, then Apply and OK.
     
  8. MsConfig may ask you to restart to apply the changes; you can either restart now to see the pre-boot menu, or you can choose to "Exit without restart" and review the boot menu later.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

SeaSteve's picture

Isn't a "new" safe mode basically achieved when you create and use a recovery drive?

Jim's picture

Does this work if I use grub as my bootloader?

smilestogo_4662's picture

Hi,
I've used this method very often with much success.
Turn on the pc as you would normally do.
Click or tap on the lock screen to get to the login screen
Do not login
Look for the power icon in bottom right corner
Hold down and keep holding down the shift button on the keyboard while you click or tap the power icon and then click or tap on restart
Keep holding down the shift button till you see Choose an option
Click or tap on advanced options
Click or tap on startup setting
You will be asked to restart
Restart
Click or tap on F5 on the keyboard for safe mode with networking

Has worked for me very often