Boot Windows 8 into Safe Mode

From the Charms bar select the Settings button

This gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Windows and Office Blog.

As you may have noticed, Microsoft has disabled the standard method of accessing Safe Mode in Windows 8 in favor of a new Modern UI system. In other words, you can no longer press F8 during the Windows start up sequence and access the black and white Advanced Boot Options menu system from which you can select Safe Mode. Microsoft's justification for disabling the F8 key is essentially that computers boot up so fast these days that people will have trouble pressing F8 before Windows starts.

I suppose that if you are running Windows 8 on a SSD-based UEFI system where as Microsoft says the F8 window is less than 200 milliseconds, you won't be able to use F8 to get to Safe Mode. However, on my test systems, which are not UEFI and running on SATA drives, I definitely have time to press F8 and I'll bet that a lot of you do too. Fortunately, there is a way that you can re-enable the F8 key and revive the good old black and white Safe Mode menu system.

Now if you do in fact have a system that boots way too fast to be able to access Safe Mode with the F8 key, then Microsoft states that when there is a boot problem, the system will automatically allow you to get to the Startup Settings menu where you can then access all the available Safe Mode options. In addition, you can access Safe Mode from within Windows by accessing a series of menus and commands in the Modern UI.

I'll show you how to reconfigure Windows 8's boot process to allow you to use the F8 key to access the black and white Advanced Boot Options menu of old. However, before I do, I'll show you how access Safe Mode options from the Modern UI's Startup Settings menu-just in case you want to know. As I do, I'll describe both the old and new options on the Safe Mode system..

The modern way

As you can image, the Modern UI method involves a menu system very similar to the Windows Recovery Environment that I have described in a recent series of articles. However, you can't access Safe Mode from the Recovery Drive - instead you access it from within Windows 8. Let's take a closer look.

To begin, press [Windows]+C to access Charms bar. When you see the Charms bar, click Settings as shown in Figure A.


Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.