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How To Start Windows 8.1 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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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.