When things start to go wrong on your computer what is one of the first things you do (after punching your monitor, of course)? Often times I resort to Safe Mode, which prevents a lot of third-party and non-critical processes from starting up. If you try to enter Safe Mode in Windows 8 using the typical F8 key you’ll be a little shocked when you’re not actually prompted to enter Safe Mode. Instead you’ll see a screen like this:

Windows 8 f8 safe mode

Here you get some options to continue on with what you were doing, use another operating system (if installed), troubleshoot a problem, or turn off the computer. If you choose the Troubleshoot option you’ll be taken to another screen where you can do the following:

  • Refresh Your PC – This will reload Windows without losing your photos, music, videos, or other personal files.
  • Reset Your PC – This will reset Windows back to the factory settings.
  • System Restore – Roll back to a system-created restore point.
  • System Image Recovery – Roll back using a system image file.
  • Automatic Repair – Fixes common problems that could keep Windows from Loading.

These options are great and all, but they are not exactly a replacement for Safe Mode. So how can you get Safe Mode back? Luckily one of the TechNet blogs gives you a run through as to how Safe Mode can be enabled in Windows 8, but the bad news is that you have to plan ahead for this. If your computer already isn’t booting you won’t be able to turn this on.

–Enable Safe Mode in Windows 8–

The first thing you have to do to enable Safe Mode in Windows 8 is run an elevated Command Prompt, which you can do by searching for cmd and Ctrl+Shift click on the result.

Command prompt search

In the Command Prompt window you’ll need to type bcdedit /enum /v to reveal the boot entries. If you get a warning saying you can’t run the command because you don’t have sufficient privileges then that means you didn’t run an elevated Command Prompt using the Ctrl+Shift method described above.

Windows 8 safe mode bcdedit

You’ll want to note the GUID identifier listed under the Windows Boot Loader section that should be near the “Windows Developer Preview” description. Using that GUID, which will be different on every system, you’ll need to run the following command:

bcdedit /copy {156e8cfe-e228-11e0-8f56-a2de2f63ff7a} /d "Windows Developer Preview (Safe Mode)"

That will make a copy of the existing boot entry that we can now modify. While in the Command Prompt type msconfig and then select the Boot tab. Choose the Safe Mode option you just created, and fill in the Safe boot checkbox in the lower half of the screen:

Windows 8 safe mode msconfig

If you leave the Minimal option filled in that will be a Safe Mode without any networking features enabled. If you think you’ll need Internet or network access you should probably fill in the appropriate bubble for that.

The next time you start your computer you should see the extra boot option you just created for Safe Mode:

Windows 8 choose os

See that Change defaults or choose other options towards the bottom of the screen? We’ll talk about that in a second. Choosing the Safe Mode option you created will land you in the typical Windows Safe Mode that you’re used to:

Windows 8 safemode

Now how about that Change defaults or choose other options towards the bottom of the screen? If you choose that option you’ll be able to change the OS selection timer, choose the default operating system, or manage some other options. The other options are actually the same things I talked about earlier, which can also be seen by pressing the F8 key during the boot sequence.

Windows 8 boot options

Enjoy Safe Mode in Windows 8!

There Are 12 Comments

  1. You can also set the safe mode trough the command prompt you can open by pressing f8!

  2. I’ve got this message when doing bcdedit /copy step

    Anew description for the new entry must be specified.
    Run “bcdedit /?” for command line assistance.
    Thev parameter is incorrect.

    Any help???

    • Daniel Magnus Bennét Björck

      You probably copied from the text above, which uses forward and backward quotation marks. Replace the quotation marks with your own straight “.



    • Thanks for the heads up Daniel – I fixed the quotes in the article.

  3. how to start in secure mode

    Shift F8

    see advanced repair options


    advanced options

    windows startup settings

    press restart button

    after restart choose secure mode

  4. Hi,
    Any advice for when the ability to access Safe Mode was not enabled and you’re not able to get Windows 8 to boot correctly? I installed software that is keeping me from loading Windows 8 properly at all, and using F8 or Shift + F8 (holding both keys at the same time and keeping them pressed immediately after my PC restarts) has not brought up the advanced options or Safe Mode screen.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated or I’m going to be going through a process of installing and/or moving my last back up image around different drives to get the last good back up image to re-image my primary drive with its hosed Windows 8 OS partition.

  5. An easier way to the command prompt is to right-click on the start menu when you float to the bottom left corner.

  6. bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

  7. Dear sir,

    When i downloaded windows 8 trial cd. After installing the startup screen not comming what problem i don’t know. The same problem in the recovery cd also. I installed from usb. The file in the boot.wim winpeshl.ini misplaced. It can not showing the recovery options. Can you able send one Recovery cd for clean install of windows 8.

    I hope you will do the needful.

    Thanking you,

    Sampath Ravi

  8. THANK YOU!!!!! I spent all night MASHING F8 on my dysfunctional, merely a year old laptop with Windows 8. Went to bed sick to my stomach over what I’d lost (yes, I know…back up, back up) but, anyway…. I love you!!! lol No, really… in safe mode now and backing everything up. You made my day!!!!

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