Windows 7 Safe Mode – F8 Not Working?

If you’ve been using Windows for a while, chances are you’ve had to boot into Safe Mode at one time or another. If not, chances are you’ve seen the option to boot into Safe mode after your computer recovered from the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

Booting into Windows Safe Mode often requires holding down or repeatedly pressing the F8 key during the POST, the process your computer goes through before it boots into Windows. Sometimes, however, pressing the F8 key in any way or at any time just won’t work.

Luckily, Windows 7 offers you the opportunity to enter Safe Mode the next time you restart your computer. In addition, there are various options available using this method that are not available using the F8 method. Read on to learn how to force Windows 7 into Safe Mode the next time your computer restarts.

Start Windows 7 Safe Mode without F8

To restart you computer into Windows 7 Safe Mode, begin by clicking on Start and then Run. If your Windows 7 Start menu doesn’t have the Run option showing, hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and press the R key. Whichever method you use, you should now be looking at the Run dialog box. Type msconfig into the run box and click OK.

Type msconfig into the Run Box

You should now be looking at the System Configuration window. Click on the Boot tab to see all of the boot options Windows 7 has to offer.

Boot Tab on System Configuration

Locate the section titled Boot Option on the System Configuration window. Here you can check the option titled Safe Mode. Notice that Minimal Safe Mode is the default Safe Mode option.

Choose Safe Mode Under Boot Options

The Minimal Safe Mode option is the default because it is the same kind of Safe Mode you get using the F8 method. Once you have chosen your options, click the OK button. Windows 7 will then ask if you want to Restart Now or Exit Without Restarting. Click the Restart Now button and your computer will restart in Safe Mode.

Restart Your Computer in Safe Mode

More Safe Mode Options

You may have noticed that there are several other options besides minimal. These options are the subject of the next two articles in this series on booting Windows into Safe Mode when the F8 method just won’t work.

As it turns out, using the method described above to start up Windows 7 in Safe Mode has several advantages over the F8 method. The options available on the System Configuration window are powerful troubleshooting and diagnostic tools for discovering what is wrong with your computer.

You may find that this method of entering Safe Mode is preferred even when the F8 method works on your computer.

  1. oneshot719 says:

    Also worth noting this can be done in vista and XP and can come in pretty handy.

  2. [...] In the first article in this series on Windows 7 Safe Mode, we looked at what to do when the F8 method of starting up Windows in Safe Mode just won’t work. However, we also uncovered a few boot option gems that can serve as powerful troubleshooting and [...]

  3. drake200sx says:

    I tried this method and now windows is running in safe mode. When it prompts me for my password, it restarts again with no chance of getting into the desktop.

    Please help. I even tried system restore and it keeps going into safe mode again and again. I can't start windows normally, now!

    I'm running Windows 7 64-bit.

  4. rickirick says:

    Works like a charm.

  5. paul1149 says:

    Very nice. Of course there is a major problem when we can't get into Windows to get to this screen.

  6. Peroni says:

    It's quite easy to get out of the situation that Drake200sx found himself in.

    All you have to do, is to do again what you did to get into Safe Mode. Get the run box up and type msconfig again. A new System Configuration box will appear. Click on the General heading. Then, click Normal Startup, then Apply, then OK, then Restart.

    Good Luck.

  7. elearning says:

    Nice one. You made my work easier.

    Thanks a lot.

  8. elearning says:

    Thanks. It worked.

  9. Frank D says:

    This proved to be disastrous to me. As drake200sx described on October 1st, 2010 @11:33 am, the same thing happened to me:

    I tried this method and now windows is running in safe mode. When it prompts me for my password, it restarts again with no chance of getting into the desktop.

    Please help. I even tried system restore and it keeps going into safe mode again and again. I can’t start windows normally, now!

    I’m running Windows 7 64-bit.

    I called my ISP and we worked on this for almost 2 hours with no change. I called the PC mfr (HP) and the techs worked with me for about 1/2 hour before telling me I'd have to reformat my PC — which I did!!!! I lost everything. If I didn't have a recent full-system image backup, I would have been hosed.

    Bottom line: don't tell people to do something that leads them down a path they can't return from! You need to give them the way out in addition to the way in.

    Frank D

  10. rc says:

    The only problem is that if windows won't boot, I can't even get to "Start." I'll have to keep looking.

  11. anand says:

    Can we run our PC normally after running it in safe mode?

    Please say.

  12. anand says:

    When You are finished troubleshooting in Safe mode, open MSCONFIG again, on the Boot tab, and uncheck the box next to SAFEBOOT. Click Apply, then OK. Your computer will restart in Normal mode.

    You should have done this.

  13. Rajasekar says:

    I entered into Safe Mode but to reboot in normal mode I am unable to open msconfig.

    When I type msconfig and press Enter in the Run box there is no window to get my option and I don't get any error message either.

    Please help me.

  14. samiams00 says:

    What can I do if I want to enable the F8 key, instead of always having to tick or untick the option? Is that possible?

  15. jstorz says:

    I am so thankful for internet resources! Your advice on how to restart Windows 7 in safe mode was perfect. F8 worked for me and was so easy! I needed to restart my computer in safe mode as a first step to delete a nasty virus from my computer.

    Thanks, again!

  16. Sally says:

    This method really works and it's so easy! Thank you very much!

  17. kanguru says:

    I went into safe mode and now I can't even find 'start' on there. Please help me find it. I just need to remove a password from my main user account.

  18. pioneo says:

    OK first

    i couldn't load into the safemode then i applied the setting using the msconfig

    and now it entered a loop which i cannot get out of. i couldn't get insafe mode and when i start windows normally it auto went into safemode which i cannot get into

    anyone kindly help how can i get accessed to the msconfig to reset the safe mode boot

    or is there any file which i can access e.g boot.ini file..

    i need help here. i am now in an endless loop anyone can help pls

  19. Trev says:

    You have to right click on msconfig after you search for it and choose run as administrator otherwise it will say not found.

  20. Ning says:

    I can't thank you enough for pointing the way to enter safe mode in win7. I've been hitting F8 like crazy for hours! At long last, with your help, I can now restore my computer to a previous state. It's approaching midnight in Thailand and I can now retire to bed peacefully. Million thanks!

  21. Jason says:

    HEED MY WARNING!!!! Do not use this!!! If your computer won't boot safe mode at the start screen and you enable this it makes your computer reboot in safe mode forever and crashed at login screen … and the only way I got it back was to go into the command line from the recovery console and put this in…. bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot …so don't try this .. it took me 4 HOURS to fix it… the best thing to do is live with it or re install windows 7 !!!

  22. Mani says:

    Thanks a lot..This method helped me to boot into windows 7 in safe mode :)

  23. Harold says:

    My problem is I can’t locate windows 7 to be able to open it. It seems that when I installed the ‘preview version of windows ’8′, which made me lose many desk top apps, can’t print, etc, my windows 7 vanished. I then reinstalled windows 7, but can’t find it to open. Where is it ? How do I get it to open ? Thanks

  24. gregorio says:

    @jason i m still in that loop. The command line where you type that comment is not working..

    Is your laptop from HP?

  25. Steve says:

    Thank you! Was going crazy pushing the *$^%$^ F8 key!

  26. Rob von Nesselrode says:

    Not much help when windows is not running in the first place.

  27. TA_679 says:

    Try DELETE, not F8. (If you hit it too soon you might get into the BIOS. If so exit that without saving, then hit delete again.) I searched a long time online, didn’t find this answer, I accidentally discovered it myself. Apparently I am the only person who knows this.

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