Starting Windows 11 in Safe Mode

Booting in safe mode can help you diagnose a problem on your Windows computer. If a problematic PC component runs smoothly in safe mode, it means that bad device drivers, bug-ridden third-party apps, incorrect system configurations, malware or network-related issues are the cause of the problem.

Windows has three different options for safe mode. This tutorial will show you how to start your Windows 11 PC in safe mode and how the options differ.

1. Enter Safe Mode from Windows Recovery Environment

Windows Recovery is the best way to start Windows 11 in safe mode if your PC won’t boot or won’t boot past a black/blank screen.

  1. Press and hold the power button until your PC is completely turned off.
  2. Wait about 10 seconds and press the power button to turn your PC back on.
  3. Press the power button when your PC’s screen lights up or when the manufacturer’s logo appears on the screen. Continue to hold the power button until your PC turns off.
  4. Wait about 5-10 seconds and press the power button to turn on your PC.
  5. To repeat step 3 and step 4and your PC should load the Windows Recovery Environment (winRE) on the third attempt.
  6. Select Resolving problems in the recovery environment.
  1. Select Advanced options
  1. Select Startup Settings
  1. Select Restarting to load the startup settings options.
  1. Press the corresponding number next to the Safe Mode option that you want to boot.
  • Press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to boot in normal safe mode. This option in safe mode removes all third-party apps and programs. The inscription “Safe Mode” will appear in the four corners of your PC’s screen. Windows only loads basic drivers and some options in the Settings menu. So you can’t surf the web or make certain changes to your PC settings.
  • Press 5 or F5 to “Enable Safe Mode with Networking”. This option loads your PC’s network drivers so that you can access the Internet in safe mode. Select this option only if the problem you are trying to solve is network-related or requires Internet access.
  • Press 6 or F6 to enable “Safe Mode with Command Prompt”. Unlike the other two options, this option loads a Command Prompt terminal on the screen. Use this option for advanced troubleshooting that may require you to run CMD commands.

If you cannot access the Windows Recovery Environment and your computer continues to boot with a blank screen, consider starting Windows 11 from a bootable USB drive. You can create a bootable USB drive on another Windows 11 PC using Microsoft’s media creation tool or by downloading the Windows 11 disk image (ISO). Read our tutorial on create a bootable USB recovery drive for Windows learn more.

2. Enter Safe Mode from Windows Settings

Like older Windows versions, you can also access Safe Mode in Windows 11 from the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app (press Windows keyl), select System in the sidebar and select recovery
  1. Scroll to the ‘Recovery options’ section and select Restart now next to “Advanced Startup.”
  1. Select Restart now at the confirmation prompt to continue.

That will boot your PC into the recovery environment. Go to Resolving problemsAdvanced optionsStartup SettingsRestarting and press either 45or 6 on your keyboard to enable your favorite safe mode option.

3. Start Windows 11 in safe mode from the start menu

Using the Start menu is probably the easiest way to boot Windows 11 in safe mode. By holding down the Shift key while you restart your PC, Windows will boot into the Advanced Boot Menu, where you can enter Safe Mode.

  1. press the Windows key and select the power icon
  2. Press and hold the shift key on your keyboard and select Restarting

That loads the advanced startup page. Then, as described in the method above, go to Resolving problemsAdvanced optionsStartup SettingsRestarting and select the desired type of Safe Mode.

4. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode with MSCONFIG

MSCONFIG stands for Microsoft System Configuration. It is a built-in Windows tool that allows you to access system settings that you may not find in the Settings app or Control Panel.

  1. press the Windows key on the keyboard or select the Search icon in the taskbar.
  1. Type msconfig (also called system configuration) in the search box and select Run as administrator in the results window.
  1. Go to the Boot tab and check Safe Boot in the “Boot Options” section.
  1. Select your favorite safe mode option: MinimalAlternative shellActive Directory Repairor Network
  • The “Minimal” option loads basic drivers and settings in safe mode. However, you cannot access the Internet, use third-party apps, and change certain system configurations.
  • “Alternative shell” only boots the Command Prompt terminal in safe mode.
  • “Active Directory Repair” is commonly used by network administrators in corporate environments to: repair or restore an Active Directory database
  • The “Network” option loads the network drivers in safe mode.
  1. Select Apply and then select Okay continue.
  1. Select Restarting on the prompt to boot in safe mode. Select other Shut down without reboot to restart your PC later, especially if you have unsaved documents in other apps.

Remark: Every time you restart your PC, your PC will always boot in safe mode.

The following steps will disable Safe Mode and start your PC normally:

Return to the “System Configuration” window (Click Get startedtype msconfig), uncheck Safe Bootselect Okayand restart your PC to power off.

5. Enable Safe Mode from Command Prompt

Another way to boot Windows 11 in safe mode is via Command Prompt

  1. press the Windows keytype command prompt in the search bar and select Run as administrator
  1. Type or paste shutdown.exe /r /o in the console Command Prompt terminal and press Enter
  1. You will be notified that Windows will shut down in a minute. Select Close to and wait for your PC to boot to the Windows Recovery page.
  1. On the home page, go to Resolving problemsAdvanced optionsStartup SettingsRestarting and press the corresponding key next to the desired Safe Mode option.

6. Enter Safe Mode from Login Screen

It is also possible to enter Safe Mode without logging into Windows. Select the power icon in the lower-left corner of the login screen, hold the . pressed Shift button and select Restarting

Your PC loads the Windows Recovery Environment. As mentioned in the sections above, go to: Resolving problemsAdvanced optionsStartup SettingsRestarting and select the Safe Mode option.

There’s more in safe mode

In addition to diagnosing performance and startup issues, opening Safe Mode can help diagnose malware infections and other system errors.

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