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Windows 8 Safe Mode

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 8.
Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode that allows you to use Windows with basic drivers. If you are having errors or software problems in Windows 8, restarting in Safe Mode can allow you to continue working and troubleshoot the problem. When in Safe Mode, no extra software is loaded, so troubleshooting software and driver problems is much easier.
In Safe Mode, Windows might look different, because Safe Mode uses a low graphics mode for the display. Also, the words Safe Mode appear in the four corners of the screen.
NOTE: If you are not using the latest version of Windows 8, some graphics and information in this document may vary. You can get the latest version from the Microsoft Store.

Entering Safe Mode from Windows 8

View a video on entering Safe Mode from Windows 8

Use the following steps to start in Safe Mode from Windows:
  1. Press the Windows + I key.
  2. Click Change PC Settings to open the PC Settings menu.
    Figure 1: Change PC Settings
    Change PC Settings
  3. Select Update and recovery from the PC Settings menu.
    Figure 2: Update and recovery in the PC Settings menu
    Update and recovery in the PC Settings menu
  4. Select Recovery from the Update and recovery menu, and then under Advanced startup click or touch Restart now.
    Figure 3: Restart now for Advanced startup in Recovery options
    Restart now for Advanced startup in Recovery options
  5. The Choose an option screen opens. From the Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot.
    Figure 4: Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
    Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
  6. Click Advanced options.
    Figure 5: Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
    Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
  7. Click Startup Settings.
    Figure 6: Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
    Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
  8. Click Restart.
    Figure 7: Startup Settings screen
     Startup Settings screen with Restart button selected
    The computer restarts and another Startup Settings screen opens showing a list of different startup options.
  9. Choose the safe mode option you want from the Startup Settings menu:
    • Press the F4 key for Enable Safe Mode.
    • Press the F5 key for Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
    • Press the F6 key for Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
    Figure 8: Startup Settings screen
     Startup Settings screen showing menu of available startup options
  10. Sign in to the computer with your account name and password. The computer opens the desktop in Safe Mode.
  11. When finished troubleshooting, exit Safe Mode by pressing Windows + I.
  12. Click Power, and select Restart.
    Figure 9: Restart from the Power menu
    Restart from the Power menu
    The computer starts normally.

Entering Safe Mode from outside Windows 8

View a video on entering Safe Mode from outside Windows 8

When Windows 8 fails to start properly, you may be prompted to start in recovery mode. When this happens, the Choose an option screen displays. If the Choose an option screen does not display, shutdown your computer. Power on your computer and repeatedly press the esc key until the Startup Menu opens. Begin a System Recovery by pressing F11, and then use the following steps to open Windows in safe mode.
  1. If prompted, select your keyboard layout, and then from the Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot.
    Figure 10: Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
    Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
  2. Click Advanced options.
    Figure 11: Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
    Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
  3. Click Startup Settings. If the Startup Settings option does not display, follow the steps for starting Safe Mode in the Entering Safe Mode without access to Startup Settings in Windows 8 section.
    Figure 12: Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
    Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
  4. Click Restart.
    Figure 13: Startup Settings screen
     Startup Settings screen with Restart button selected
    The computer restarts and another Startup Settings screen opens showing a list of different startup options.
  5. Choose the safe mode option you want from the Startup Settings menu:
    • Press the F4 key for Enable Safe Mode.
    • Press the F5 key for Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
    • Press the F6 key for Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
    Figure 14: Startup Settings screen
     Startup Settings screen showing menu of available startup options
  6. If prompted, select your keyboard language type and sign in with an account name that has administrator rights. The computer opens the desktop in Safe Mode.
  7. When finished troubleshooting, exit Safe Mode by pressing Windows + I.
  8. Click Power, and select Restart.
    Figure 15: Restart from the Power menu
    Restart from the Power menu
    The computer starts normally.

Entering Safe Mode without access to Startup Settings in Windows 8

In some cases, the Startup Settings option on the Advanced options screen does not display. Follow these steps to open Windows in safe mode using Command Prompt.
  1. Power on your computer and repeatedly press the esc key until the Startup Menu opens.
  2. Begin a System Recovery by pressing F11. If prompted, select your keyboard layout.
  3. The Choose an option screen displays. Click Troubleshoot.
    Figure 16: Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
    Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
  4. Click Advanced options.
    Figure 17: Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
    Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
  5. Select Command Prompt to open the Command Prompt window. You may need to select your account and enter your password to continue.
    Figure 18: Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
    Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
  6. After the command system prompt, enter the command for the safe mode option you want. Enter the information exactly. The computer responds with The operation completed successfully when you have entered the command correctly.
    • Enable Safe Mode - Type:
      bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal and press the Enter key.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Networking - Type:
      bcdedit /set {default} safeboot network and press the Enter key.
    • Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt - Type:
      bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal, press the Enter key and then type:
      bcdedit /set {default} safebootalternateshell yes and press the Enter key.
    Figure 19: Enable Safe Mode from Command Prompt
    Enable Safe Mode from Command Prompt
  7. Close the Command Prompt window by checking the exit box in the upper right corner of the Command Prompt window.
  8. The Choose an options screen displays. Select Continue and sign in to Windows with your account name and password. The computer opens the desktop in Safe Mode.

Exiting Safe Mode in Windows 8

View a video on exiting Safe Mode in Windows 8

In most cases, you can exit Safe Mode by restarting your computer. When you have entered Safe Mode using Command Prompt, restarting your computer does not exit safe mode. If your computer is stuck in safe mode, use the following steps to return to normal operation.
  1. Shutdown your computer, and then power on your computer and repeatedly press the esc key until the Startup Menu opens.
  2. Begin a System Recovery by pressing F11. If prompted, select your keyboard language type.
  3. The Choose an option screen displays. Click Troubleshoot.
    Figure 20: Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
    Choose an Option screen with Troubleshoot selected
  4. Click Advanced options.
    Figure 21: Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
    Troubleshoot screen with Advanced options selected
  5. Select Command Prompt to open the Command Prompt window. You may need to select your account and enter your password to continue.
    Figure 22: Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
    Advanced options with Startup Settings selected
  6. Type the following command to exit safe mode:
    bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot and press the Enter key.
    Figure 23: Exit Safe Mode command in Command Prompt
    Exit Safe Mode command in Command Prompt
  7. Close the Command Prompt window by checking the exit box in the upper right corner of the Command Prompt window.
  8. The Choose an options screen displays. Select Continue and sign in to Windows with your account name and password.
    The computer starts normally.

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