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How To Start Windows 8.1 in Safe Mode

By , Tom's Hardware Community - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments
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Learn how to get into Safe Mode in the latest version of Microsoft Windows.

How To Start Windows 8 in Safe Mode

You can get into Safe Mode by enabling the legacy boot menu. If the system doesn't boot normally and you have a Windows 8 or 8.1 install disk handy, you can enable it by booting from the install disk, then following the screenshots below to enable the menu. The command in the last screen is below so you can copy it exactly:

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
  1. Boot the Windows 8(.1) Install or System Recovery media and click Next at the first screen when asked for your language preference.
  2. Click the "Repair your computer" link at the next screen.
  3. Click the Troubleshoot button.
  4. Then click Advanced Options.
  5. And finally, click Command Prompt. The avaialble options for you may be different depending on what boot media you used to get to this point, but as long as you have this Command Prompt option, you can run the command.
  6. Run the command and you should see this as your output on the screen once it completes. The command should take less than a second to run.


After performing these steps and rebooting, you can press F8 and access the menu to boot into Safe Mode.

If you don't have a Windows 8 or 8.1 Install disk or System Recovery disk handy, you can also run this command when the system tries to automatically attempt Startup Repairs (and fails, giving you access to a command prompt window). You can use the screenshots above for reference. If the automatic repair menu allows you the option of starting a command prompt window, the screenshots above will apply and can be used for reference when trying to run this command.

For a detailed video walkthrough, check out the Tom's Hardware Tutorial Video above.

The above content was adapted from our Tom's Hardware Tutorials Forum contributed by community member The_Prophecy.

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Display 32 Comments.
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  • -3 Hide
    sirskeetsalot2013 , March 10, 2014 4:18 PM
    I've always went to the metro screen, then type msconfig in the seach box, then run as administrator. Go to boot, check safe boot and pick your options (But you need to uncheck that box next time you log into windows of course)
  • 6 Hide
    animeman59 , March 10, 2014 5:14 PM
    Quote:
    Windows 8, that hateful piece of crap Microsoft released two years ago?Nah... D'you know that its craptastic multi-screen suport forces your mouse to snap to the screen edges when you're traveling the mouse from one screen to another? It's the most dreaded thing!Yeah....
    I've been using Windows 8 for over a year now, and it doesn't do that. If you're going to criticize the OS, then at least use a factual argument.
  • 2 Hide
    chicofehr , March 10, 2014 5:39 PM
    F8 better be standard when windows 9 comes out. Having to install/activate it before you use it would be annoying especially when something does happen and you need to use it. I don't want to go through all that to do something that has been part of windows forever.
  • -4 Hide
    antilycus , March 10, 2014 9:07 PM
    As a Windows 3.1 user to Windows 8.1 user I can tell you, BY FAR, this is T H E ABSOLUTE W O R S T operating system MS has ever released. EVER. Metro needs to die... FAST. Start tree needs to be back (it wont be) and just the overall overlay and design is so counter intuitive you have to wonder if MS is working for Apple. I have given up using Windows at home. I now use Linux Debian... I am not recommending Debian to anyone but free office programs and a free O/S that doesn't kill productivity certainly is nice.... MS is going down the tube and the ONLY ones that don't believe that are people dependent on sticking with the 1990 mindset. Those people/companies can crash and burn along with Microsoft because that is EXACTLY where they are pointing. Even after a few BILLION dollars, they still can't get it right.
  • 5 Hide
    Alec Mowat , March 10, 2014 9:13 PM
    Quote:
    As a Windows 3.1 user to Windows 8.1 user I can tell you, BY FAR, this is T H E ABSOLUTE W O R S T operating system MS has ever released. EVER. Metro needs to die... FAST. Start tree needs to be back (it wont be) and just the overall overlay and design is so counter intuitive you have to wonder if MS is working for Apple. I have given up using Windows at home. I now use Linux Debian... I am not recommending Debian to anyone but free office programs and a free O/S that doesn't kill productivity certainly is nice.... MS is going down the tube and the ONLY ones that don't believe that are people dependent on sticking with the 1990 mindset. Those people/companies can crash and burn along with Microsoft because that is EXACTLY where they are pointing. Even after a few BILLION dollars, they still can't get it right.
    Completely disagree. 8.1 is fast, the task manager is great, it's smaller in size than 7 and uses less resources.It's an odd design, the metro is basically useless for the most part, but the desktop view runs fine.There's a lot of interesting features as well. The issues is that most people have trouble adapting to change. The changes are, for the most part, "good", although a little silly. I'm more concerned that Windows 9 will be a step backwards because "Windows 3.1 users" can't figure out how to move a mouse to the corner of the screen and leave it still for 2 seconds.
  • 1 Hide
    Solandri , March 10, 2014 11:39 PM
    Quote:
    I'm more concerned that Windows 9 will be a step backwards because "Windows 3.1 users" can't figure out how to move a mouse to the corner of the screen and leave it still for 2 seconds.

    That turns out to be really, really hard to do if you're accessing Win 8 in a window via Remote Desktop, VNC, or in a virtual machine. There is no "corner" to catch the mouse cursor. Because mouse position is updated at specific time intervals instead of every pixel of movement, moving the mouse past the corner results in the remote system stopping the mouse just shy of the corner before the local system takes control of it.

    While I'm not opposed to the new paradigm (I love the new task manager), forcibly removing the old one reduced functionality in certain use cases. It's not just a matter of users being unwilling to learn. Win 8.x really is worse in some respects.
  • 6 Hide
    ta152h , March 11, 2014 12:14 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    As a Windows 3.1 user to Windows 8.1 user I can tell you, BY FAR, this is T H E ABSOLUTE W O R S T operating system MS has ever released. EVER. Metro needs to die... FAST. Start tree needs to be back (it wont be) and just the overall overlay and design is so counter intuitive you have to wonder if MS is working for Apple. I have given up using Windows at home. I now use Linux Debian... I am not recommending Debian to anyone but free office programs and a free O/S that doesn't kill productivity certainly is nice.... MS is going down the tube and the ONLY ones that don't believe that are people dependent on sticking with the 1990 mindset. Those people/companies can crash and burn along with Microsoft because that is EXACTLY where they are pointing. Even after a few BILLION dollars, they still can't get it right.
    Completely disagree. 8.1 is fast, the task manager is great, it's smaller in size than 7 and uses less resources.It's an odd design, the metro is basically useless for the most part, but the desktop view runs fine.There's a lot of interesting features as well. The issues is that most people have trouble adapting to change. The changes are, for the most part, "good", although a little silly. I'm more concerned that Windows 9 will be a step backwards because "Windows 3.1 users" can't figure out how to move a mouse to the corner of the screen and leave it still for 2 seconds.
    I have Windows 8.1, and it's my primary OS. I agree that it's not as bad as people say, but your argument is purely stupid. It's not that people have problems adjusting to change, it's people with a mouse and keyboard have problems adjusting to change that works well with a touchscreen, and not well with what they have.It's clearly a better OS than Windows 7, but with a miserable interface you have to bypass. Those idiotic swipes make no sense for a mouse/keyboard user, and are arbitrary.As a developer, I can tell you the difference between good software and bad pretty simply. Good software adapts to the user, and works how they want to work. Bad software makes the user adapt to it. That's 8.1. You have to fight it. Many of the new features are counter-intuitive. It's not a good design. There are a lot pluses, but it's too bad they lost relevance due to a horrific GUI decision at Microsoft.The bottom line is, Microsoft matters a lot less because of it. The market has decided against it, and Microsoft is suffering badly for their arrogance and stupidity. It's settled, and you're wrong. Even Microsoft realizes they made a mistake. They just have no idea where to go from here. Clearly, Windows 8 wasn't the solution.
  • -4 Hide
    apache_lives , March 11, 2014 1:42 AM
    Why do i come to THG again, its all hater FUDD now...
  • 0 Hide
    kristoffe , March 11, 2014 3:16 AM
    win 8.1 is awesome. how hard could it possibly be to press SHIFT+F8 or just F8 put back in as a hack, addon? Really?
  • 0 Hide
    Illywilly , March 11, 2014 3:25 AM
    Or just hold shift and click restart
  • 0 Hide
    moulderhere , March 11, 2014 4:43 AM
    While this article is great and all. For those people who buy a computer with windows 8, they go to make restore dvds to find they can only make it to USB key and not dvd
  • 0 Hide
    MrBeans , March 11, 2014 5:35 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Windows 8, that hateful piece of crap Microsoft released two years ago?Nah... D'you know that its craptastic multi-screen suport forces your mouse to snap to the screen edges when you're traveling the mouse from one screen to another? It's the most dreaded thing!Yeah....
    I've been using Windows 8 for over a year now, and it doesn't do that. If you're going to criticize the OS, then at least use a factual argument.
    Actually he is right, I have been noticing this more and more depending on the type of work I do. The mouse can get stuck on the monitor you are at if the pointer stays on the edge for a second too long making the move from monitor to monitor complicated. Not only that, but when using remote desktop to server 2012, the Win8 Metro/desktop button can overlap with the server 2012 start button making it frustrating when trying to get simple stuff done. Its stupid little issues that add up.
  • 0 Hide
    OcelotRex , March 11, 2014 5:43 AM
    Quote:
    Uh... you mean you can't just hit F8 anymore? God damn, can this piece of shit OS get any worse?
    Windows 8 uses a "fast boot" mode. It speeds up the booting process after post so much that you cannot press the key fast enough to get into safe mode. My HTPC is in windows ready to rock before my tv can turn on when they are both powered on at the same time.
  • 0 Hide
    Morbus , March 11, 2014 6:36 AM
    Quote:
    8.1 is fast

    Real world differences are negligible, and in gaming it's marginally slower AND more unstable.

    Quote:
    the task manager is great

    Yeah, but anyone with a brain uses Process Explorer, so it's a moot point.

    Quote:
    it's smaller in size than 7 and uses less resources.

    Which is only relevant to the tablet market, where Window 8 is, undoubtedly, better than Windows 7 ANYWAY.

    Quote:
    It's an odd design, the metro is basically useless for the most part, but the desktop view runs fine.There's a lot of interesting features as well. The issues is that most people have trouble adapting to change. The changes are, for the most part, "good", although a little silly. I'm more concerned that Windows 9 will be a step backwards because "Windows 3.1 users" can't figure out how to move a mouse to the corner of the screen and leave it still for 2 seconds.

    You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. Moving a mouse to a corner is nearly impossible in a multi-screen setup or in a windowed virtual machine... Unless... Oh, wait, UNLESS WINDOWS 8 SNAPS THE MOUSE to the corners on a multi-screen setup (which still doesn't fix the problem for virtual machines), which is absolutely HATEFUL and only breaks things. It's by far the most terrible thing of Windows 8 have to deal with at work. Granted there's loads and loads of other problems. Tiny problems, admittedly, but all together they make for a terrible experience when compared to Windows 7.
  • 0 Hide
    antilycus , March 11, 2014 7:51 AM
    To all who think Windows 8 is a great desktop platform, try using Win 8 (or 8.1) without ANY keyboard shortcuts for 1 week and tell me that you still feel the same. No ALT + F4, no WIN + D, no WIN + R, no WIN + E, nothing.... mouse only. Do the same on any other version of Windows and watch how much more productive you are. The reason I say don't use hot keys is because the general users don't use them and don't want to...
  • -1 Hide
    red77star , March 11, 2014 8:28 AM
    In nutshell Windows 8.x -> pile of crap. Move on.
  • 1 Hide
    OcelotRex , March 11, 2014 9:03 AM
    Quote:
    To all who think Windows 8 is a great desktop platform, try using Win 8 (or 8.1) without ANY keyboard shortcuts for 1 week and tell me that you still feel the same. No ALT + F4, no WIN + D, no WIN + R, no WIN + E, nothing.... mouse only. Do the same on any other version of Windows and watch how much more productive you are. The reason I say don't use hot keys is because the general users don't use them and don't want to...


    The great thing about a desktop OS is that you can use keyboard shortcuts - Win 8 handles keyboards, touch, and mouse better than windows 7. It's a learning curve that once you get over Windows 8 becomes more efficient even without a ton of keyboard shortcuts. Casual users being lazy to learn hot keys doesn't make the OS worse.

    In both Win 7 and Win 8 I use the windows key then start typing to search for the app I need to use. Win 8 does this a little better because I can search down to the setting without having to go to say the control panel to switch the audio output from my SPDIF output on the motherboard to the HDMI output.

    In windows 7 I would follow this process: Win key then search for control panel. Search in the control panel for audio devices then double click audio devices.

    In 8 I can start typing "Audio" on the start screen, eliminating steps. Then one mouse click to change from searching apps to settings and audio devices is right there.

    This is one example but universal search in Windows 8 beats 7 hands down if you have a keyboard. Using "Win+Q" searches apps from the desktop and in apps in a metro app like netflix or hulu plus. "Win+F" searches for files while "Win W" searches settings. Even without these specific shortcuts you can just start typing at the start screen and search without any shortcuts from the keyboard, which is awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    TwoDigital , March 11, 2014 9:57 AM
    I hit shift-F8 during boot-up... you get several options for saft boot and command-line boot (no install media required.) It's difficult to hit F8 at the right time, but it works fine when you hit it at the right time.
  • 0 Hide
    red77star , March 11, 2014 10:09 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    To all who think Windows 8 is a great desktop platform, try using Win 8 (or 8.1) without ANY keyboard shortcuts for 1 week and tell me that you still feel the same. No ALT + F4, no WIN + D, no WIN + R, no WIN + E, nothing.... mouse only. Do the same on any other version of Windows and watch how much more productive you are. The reason I say don't use hot keys is because the general users don't use them and don't want to...
    The great thing about a desktop OS is that you can use keyboard shortcuts - Win 8 handles keyboards, touch, and mouse better than windows 7. It's a learning curve that once you get over Windows 8 becomes more efficient even without a ton of keyboard shortcuts. Casual users being lazy to learn hot keys doesn't make the OS worse.In both Win 7 and Win 8 I use the windows key then start typing to search for the app I need to use. Win 8 does this a little better because I can search down to the setting without having to go to say the control panel to switch the audio output from my SPDIF output on the motherboard to the HDMI output. In windows 7 I would follow this process: Win key then search for control panel. Search in the control panel for audio devices then double click audio devices. In 8 I can start typing "Audio" on the start screen, eliminating steps. Then one mouse click to change from searching apps to settings and audio devices is right there. This is one example but universal search in Windows 8 beats 7 hands down if you have a keyboard. Using "Win+Q" searches apps from the desktop and in apps in a metro app like netflix or hulu plus. "Win+F" searches for files while "Win W" searches settings. Even without these specific shortcuts you can just start typing at the start screen and search without any shortcuts from the keyboard, which is awesome.
    What are you talking about? You can hit window key and type audio devices in Windows 7 and it will find it fine. Windows 8 search is not any better than Windows 7 search, you get same results. There is no learning curve with Windows 8, Windows 8 is just one dumb, ugly, flat looking OS where every principle of UI, Design in general fails. Search in Windows 8 breaks workflow which means in Windows 7 i can keep watching the content on the screen while searching, in Windows 8 that is broken. Granted you can do windows key + s to display search pane on right side which takes too much space and somewhat kills work flow, not to mention tiredness of doing windows key + s all the time.
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