What happens when your Android device winds up getting bogged down with malware to the point where you can’t get to the Google Play Store to remove said malware? Believe it or not, this happens. When it does, you’re going to need to know how to boot Android into safe mode.

Similar to Windows Safe Mode, third-party apps are all disabled. This means you can then get into the Google Play Store app or the App Manager and remove any and all unfamiliar apps.

Fortunately, booting your Android device into safe mode is surprisingly easy… so easy, in fact, that you may have inadvertently discovered the feature by default.

Safe mode

Start to shut down your device as normal by pressing and holding the power button. When prompted to “Power off” your device, long press the Power off button, and you’ll see a new pop-up asking if you want to Reboot to safe mode. Tap OK (Figure A), and the device will reboot into safe mode.

Figure A

Booting a Verizon-branded Nexus 6 into safe mode.

When running in safe mode, you’ll see an indicator in the bottom left corner of your device (Figure B).

Figure B

Running in safe mode.

Open up your app drawer, and you should see a number of apps missing; this is because they are not available. If you have folders that contain shortcuts to apps, those apps will still appear, but they’ll be grayed out, indicating that they can’t be used (Figure C).

Figure C

Some apps are not available while in safe mode.

You can now walk through the process of removing any questionable apps from your device.

When you’re done removing apps, simply reboot the device as per normal, and you should be good to go.

If you suspect you have a malware infection that’s preventing you from solving the problem, boot into safe mode, and see if that doesn’t help get the job done.

Have you run into a piece of Android malware? If so, what was it and how did you get rid of it?