How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode (8 ways)

Safe Mode

Did you just install Windows 11 but, unfortunately, you encountered some issues with it? Are there some apps, features, or drivers that don’t behave and cause problems? In that case, you might be wondering how to repair them, and one of the best tools for troubleshooting is Windows 11’s Safe Mode. The question is: “How do you enter Safe Mode in Windows 11?”. There are many ways to get Windows 11 in Safe Mode, and here are all eight we’ve found so far:

Quick Steps

Enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode by stopping the PC from booting normally
  1. Interrupt Windows 11’s normal boot process three consecutive times. Press the physical Restart or Power button on your Windows 11 computer or device to stop it during its startup process.
  2. Wait for a few moments until Windows 11 diagnoses your PC.
  3. Then, it loads the “Automatic Repair” screen. On it, press the “Advanced options” button.
  4. And, on the “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot.
  5. Go to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart” and press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to boot into minimal Safe Mode, 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” and 6 or F6 to enter “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

What you get when you start Windows 11 in Safe Mode

If you open Windows 11 in Safe Mode, your computer or device loads Windows 11 with a basic user interface. It only uses essential drivers and services, so most of the things that can cause crashes or problems are out of the way. That makes it easier to troubleshoot Windows 11.

Windows 11 Safe Mode

Unfortunately, Windows 11 requires UEFI, so old ways of booting into Safe Mode, like pressing F8 or Shift + F8 on your keyboard, don’t work. However, there are plenty of other ways to get into Windows 11’s Safe Mode, as you’ll soon see in this tutorial.

In the first methods from this guide, sections 1 to 4, we show you to open Safe Mode in Windows 11 when you can’t sign into it. If you can log into your Windows 11 PC, it might be easier to follow one of the last methods, from 5 to 8.

1. How to start Safe Mode in Windows 11 by pressing “Shift + Restart” on the sign-in screen

If you can’t sign into Windows 11, but your computer or device can reach the sign-in screen, press and hold Shift on your keyboard. While keeping Shift pressed, click or tap on the Power button and select Restart in the menu.

How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode from the Sign In screen

Windows 11 immediately reboots. Then, when it asks you to Choose an option, select Troubleshoot.

Choose Troubleshoot

On the Troubleshoot screen, click or tap on Advanced options.

Accessing the advanced troubleshooting options

Next, the Advanced options screen loads. On it, select Startup Settings. If you don’t have this option on the screen, use the link “See more recovery options” to get to it. Then, click or tap on Startup Settings.

Choose Startup Settings

Windows 11 then loads another screen called Startup Settings. It informs you that, after you restart your PC, you can change Windows options. One of them is that you can Enable Safe Mode. Click or tap on the Restart button.

Startup Settings: Choose Restart for Windows 11 Safe Mode options

Once Windows 11 finishes restarting, you can select the Startup Settings you want to enable. To enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode, there are three options you can choose from:

  • Safe Mode - press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to start Windows 11 in the standard Safe Mode
  • Safe Mode with Networking - press 5 or F5 to enter Safe Mode and load networking drivers and services
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt - press 6 or F6 to get into Safe Mode and automatically load Command Prompt

Choose one of the three Safe Mode options for Windows 11

Then, Windows 11 starts in its Safe Mode, and you can log into it using an admin account and start troubleshooting.

2. How to enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode by stopping the PC from booting normally

Windows 11 has a built-in failsafe switch that triggers when it fails to start normally. The fourth time it tries to boot after three failed attempts, Windows 11 automatically loads its Automatic Repair mode. So, what you have to do is interrupt Windows 11’s normal boot process three consecutive times. Press the physical Restart or Power button on your Windows 11 computer or device to stop it during its startup process. Note that if you press the Power button, you usually need to keep it pressed for about 4 seconds to enforce the power off. If you succeed in doing it, Windows 11 loads its Automatic Repair mode.

How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode using automatic repair

Wait for a few moments until Windows 11 diagnoses your PC.

Windows 11 is diagnosing your PC

Then, it loads the “Automatic Repair” screen. On it, press the “Advanced options” button.

Click or tap Advanced options

And, on the “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot.

Troubleshoot Windows 11

From here on, follow the same steps as we’ve shown in the first method of this guide. Go to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart” and press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to boot into minimal Safe Mode, 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” and 6 or F6 to enter “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

3. How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode using a DVD or USB installation drive and Command Prompt

Another way to enter Safe Mode in Windows 11 is by using a USB stick or DVD with the Windows 11 setup. Use the one you already have or make one now if you can. Then, use it to boot your PC, select the language and keyboard layout you prefer, and click or tap Next.

In the Windows 11 Setup, press Next

Next, click or tap on the “Repair your computer” link from the bottom-left corner of the Windows Setup window.

Click or tap Repair your computer

On the “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot.

To get to Windows 11 Safe Mode, select Troubleshoot

On the “Advanced options” screen, choose “Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting).”

Starting the Command Prompt

Now comes the most important part: in Command Prompt, run the command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal. Press Enter on the keyboard and wait to see the message that “The operation completed successfully.”

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from the Command Prompt

Close the Command Prompt and click or tap the Continue button on the next screen.

Choose Continue to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode

Wait for your computer or device to restart and see how Windows 11 enters Safe Mode.

IMPORTANT: If you use this method, Windows 11 will go into Safe Mode each and every time it starts. If you want it to start normally again, you must disable this setting by running this command: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot. You can execute it from Windows 11’s Safe Mode, or you can run it following the same steps from this chapter.

4. How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode from a recovery drive

You can also enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode from a system recovery USB drive. Either use one that you already made or create a USB recovery drive on another Windows 11 PC.

Creating a Windows 11 Recovery Drive

Boot your Windows 11 PC from the USB recovery drive and select the layout for your keyboard.

Choosing the keyboard layout for the recovery drive

Then, the already familiar “Choose an option” screen loads. On it, click or tap Troubleshoot.

Choose Troubleshoot to get to the Windows 11 Safe Mode options

The next steps are the same ones we presented in the first method from this guide. In short, you have to go to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart” and then press the 4 (F4) key to boot into minimal Safe Mode, 5 (F5) to go to “Safe Mode with Networking,” or 6 (F6) to start Windows 11’s “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

5. How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode using System Configuration (msconfig.exe)

One of the easiest methods to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode is available via the System Configuration tool, also known as msconfig.exe. Open it: a fast way is to search for ”system configuration.”

Searching for System Configuration (msconfig)

In System Configuration, switch to the Boot tab and select “Safe boot” in the Boot options section. Then, press OK.

Start in Safe Mode using System Configuration (msconfig)

Windows 11 lets you know that you have to restart your PC to apply the change. Choose “Exit without restart” if you still have things to do, or Restart if you want to enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode immediately.

Restart Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6. How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode by pressing “Shift + Restart” on the Start Menu

One other way to enter Safe Mode in Windows 11 is available from the Start Menu. While keeping the Shift key pressed on your keyboard, click the Start button, then Power, and then Restart.

How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode from the Start Menu

Windows 11 restarts and loads the “Choose an option” screen. Select Troubleshoot.

Click or tap on Troubleshoot to get to the Safe Mode settings

Next, make the same steps as in this guide’s first method. Go to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart,” and press 4/F4 on your keyboard to start in Safe Mode, 5/F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or 6/F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

7. How to enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode from the Settings app (Recovery > Advanced startup)

If you can sign in to Windows 11, you can boot into Safe Mode from the Settings app. Open Settings (Windows + I) and, on the System page, click or tap on Recovery.

Go to System and then to Recovery

On the Recovery page, in the Recovery options section, click or tap the Restart now button next to Advanced startup.

Windows 11 Recovery options

Then, Windows 11 tells you that it needs to restart your device. Save your work and click or tap on Restart now when you’re done.

Windows 11 wants to restart your PC

After Windows 11 reboots, select Troubleshoot on the “Choose an option” screen.

Troubleshoot Windows 11: Reset your PC or see advanced options

Next, follow the same steps as those from the first method in this guide. In short, navigate to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart” and press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode, 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

8. How to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode using the shutdown command in CMD

The Command Prompt also provides an alternative way of starting Windows 11 in Safe Mode. Open CMD and execute this command: shutdown.exe /r /o.

Get to Windows 11's Safe Mode using the shutdown command

This command makes Windows 11 reboot and loads its recovery environment. After you run it, Windows 11 tells you that it will shut down in less than a minute.

You're about to be signed out

Once your computer restarts, Windows 11 loads the same “Choose an option” screen that we’ve also seen in the previous methods. Choose Troubleshoot and follow the steps illustrated in the first method of this guide. Go to “Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart” and press 4/F4 on your keyboard to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode, 5/F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or 6/F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

Choose Troubleshoot

What’s your favorite way to enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode?

These are the ways we know for starting Windows 11 in Safe Mode. As you’ve seen, there are plenty, so you can choose whichever you prefer or whichever you can use, depending on the state of your PC. Try some of the ways we shared, and tell us which one is your favorite. Also, if you know other methods to enter Windows 11’s Safe Mode, don’t hesitate to let us know in a comment.

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