5 Ways to Boot Into Safe Mode in Windows 11

In Safe Mode, Windows starts with a basic set of drivers and files essential to run the system. Everything else, including the start-up apps, networking, and Command Prompt, is disabled in Safe Mode. This helps you determine if an external hardware driver or program conflict is causing your system to malfunction.

There are different types of Safe Modes and different ways to access them. If you need to diagnose your PC, here is how to boot into safe mode in Windows 11.

The Different Types of Safe Mode and When to Use Them

There are three types of safe mode options available in Advanced Boot Options. We have discussed them briefly below.

  • Safe Mode: Windows will start with a minimal set of drivers and files. Network connectivity is disabled as well.
  • Safe Mode with Networking: Windows will start with a basic set of drivers in addition to the network drivers necessary to connect to a network or the Internet. Wi-Fi connectivity is not available in this mode.
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt: For advanced users who want to access the Command Prompt in safe mode and don’t need the Windows graphical interface.

1. How to Boot Into Safe Mode From the Settings Page

The easiest way to boot into safe mode is via the Settings page. You can use the Recovery option to access the Advanced Start-up settings and then boot into safe mode. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Press Win + I to open Settings.
  2. In the System tab, scroll down and click on the Recovery option.
  3. Click the Restart now button for Advanced startup.

  4. Click the Restart now button to confirm the action.
  5. In the Choose an option screen, click on Troubleshoot.

  6. Next, click on Advanced options.

  7. Click on Start-up settings under Advanced options.

  8. Click the Restart button to confirm and open the start-up-up settings. Windows will populate your screen with multiple numbered options.

  9. Press 4, 5 or 6 depending on the safe mode type you want to boot into. Windows will now restart and boot into safe mode.
  10. To exit safe mode, restart your PC and Windows will boot normally.

2. How to Boot Into Safe Mode From Lock-Screen

You can also boot into safe mode from the lock screen. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Restart your PC.
  2. When at the lock screen, press any key to see your logon screen.
  3. Click the Power button. Then, press and hold the Shift key and click on Restart. Click Restart anyway if a confirmation is required.
  4. This will bring up the Windows Recovery Environment. From here, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Start-up settings > Restart.
  5. Press 4 to restart and boot into safe mode.

Alternatively, you also do this from the desktop. Click Start > Power and click on Restart while holding the Shift key.

3. Boot Into Safe Mode Using Command Prompt

You can access the Windows Recovery Environment using the Command Prompt. And from there, you can use the start-up settings to boot into safe mode.

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. Type cmd and click OK to open the Command Prompt.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter to execute:

    shutdown.exe /r /o
  4. Click the Close button when a pop-up dialog appears. That’s it. Windows will restart in one minute. So, wait till the PC restarts and boots into the Windows Recovery Environment.
  5. In Windows RE, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Start-up settings > Restart.
  6. After the restart, press the appropriate key to boot into safe mode.

4. Boot Into Safe Mode When Windows is Not Booting

All the methods to boot into safe mode above require a working computer, and you should be able to access the logon screen at least. So, how do you access safe mode if the Windows is not booting or restarts soon after?

Windows, by default, boots into Windows Recovery Environment after three failed attempts to load the operating system. You can force shutdown your PC a few times to trick Windows into thinking the system has failed to start correctly. It will then boot into Windows RE and let you access the start-up settings. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Shut down your computer if it is On.
  2. Press the Power button to power on your PC. When it starts loading, press and hold the Power button to force shutdown the computer. Repeat the steps to force shutdown the PC once more.
  3. At the third attempt, press the power button and let Windows load and boot into Windows Recovery Environment.
  4. Under Choose an option, click on Troubleshoot.
  5. Then go to Advanced options > Start-up settings > Restart.
  6. After the restart, press 4,5 or 6 to boot into safe mode with different options.

5. Perform a Clean Boot Using Bootable USB Drive

If you are unable to access safe mode, try performing a clean boot. In clean boot mode, Windows starts with a minimal set of drivers but with more control over services and programs than safe mode.

You can perform a clean boot using the System Configuration dialog. However, if you are unable to boot into Windows, you can perform a clean boot using a bootable USB drive.

If you don’t have installation media, follow our guide on how to create a Windows 11 bootable USB drive. Once done, continue with the steps below.

  1. Power off your PC and connect the bootable USB drive.
  2. Press the Power button and start pressing the F9 key on an HP laptop or F2 on a Lenovo laptop to bring up the Boot Manager. The Boot Manager key can vary depending on your laptop/motherboard manufacturer.

  3. In the Boot Manager, use the arrow keys to select the bootable USB drive as the boot device. Press Enter to select the option to open the Windows Setup wizard.
  4. In the Windows Setup wizard, click on Next.

  5. Then, click on Repair your computer in the bottom left corner to enter Windows RE.
  6. Under Choose an option, go to Troubleshoot > Command Prompt.

  7. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press enter to change Boot Configuration Data (BCD) file.

    bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal
  8. If successful, you will see the operation completed successfully message.

  9. Type exit and press Enter to close Command Prompt.
  10. In Windows RE, click on Continue. Windows will now restart in clean boot mode.

How to Exit Safe Mode in Windows 11

To exit safe mode, restart your PC and wait for it to restart normally. However, if your computer continues to boot into safe mode, follow these steps to exit safe mode manually.

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. Type msconfig and click OK to open the System Configuration.
  3. In the Boot tab, uncheck the Safe boot option.
  4. Click Apply and OK to save the changes. Restart your PC, and it should start normally.

Troubleshooting Windows 11 With Safe Mode

Safe mode is a handy diagnostic space in Windows. It allows you to access critical drivers and is ideal for diagnosing your system for hardware issues.

However, if you want to troubleshoot third-party vendor software-related issues, try clean boot. It lets you load your system with a minimal set of drivers and startup apps to isolate the cause triggering the conflict.

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