How to start Windows 11 in safe mode for troubleshooting

As great as Windows is, sometimes you run into issues and they aren’t always easy to identify or fix. Safe Mode is a useful feature for these situations. It allows you to start Windows without loading all applications and drivers on your PC. This can help identify the cause of certain issues or make it easier to make changes if your PC is unusable in normal mode. Most versions of Windows have Safe Mode, and Windows 11 is no different. In this guide, we are going to show you how to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 11.

There are three different types of Safe Mode in Windows 11, which can be useful in specific situations. Basic Safe Mode gives you the usual Windows user interface, but with most programs removed and some drivers disabled. This includes network drivers, so you cannot access the internet. There is also Safe Mode with Networking if you need internet access to troubleshoot your PC. Finally, there is Safe Mode with Command Prompt, which turns off the Windows user interface and lets you troubleshoot issues with the command line.

How to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 11

Recent versions of Windows have made it much easier to start in Safe Mode. New advanced startup options make it easier to access these settings without having to press a key at the right time when you start your computer. This is useful because previously the key you had to press could depend on the laptop you had, so it might be different if you had a Surface PC compared to an HP. This method, on the other hand, works for all Windows 11 PCs.

  • Open the Settings application and click Recovery on the main page.

Windows 11 settings with recovery option highlighted

  • Beside Advanced start, Click on Restart now.

Windows 11 recovery page with advanced startup options highlighted

  • You will be redirected to the Windows UEFI environment. Click on Repair.

Windows 11 advanced start menu with highlighted troubleshooting option

  • On the next page, choose Advanced options.

Windows 11 UEFI menu with advanced options highlighted

  • Then click Start Parameters, and restart.

Windows 11 UEFI menu with Boot Settings option highlighted to boot in Safe Mode

  • You will have a few boot options which you can choose from with your keyboard. Press 4 to boot into normal safe mode, 5 will give you safe mode with networking, and 6 will get you safe mode with command prompt. Your PC restarts as soon as you press one of the keys.

List of Windows 11 boot options in UEFI menu with Safe Mode options highlighted

  • Your PC will now boot into Safe Mode and you can log in normally.

One thing worth noting with this walkthrough is that you won’t boot into safe mode until the first time after all of this. Once you restart you will be back to normal. If you think that you may have to boot into Safe Mode more than once, you can also configure your PC to always boot in Safe Mode.

How to make safe mode the default

If you still want to boot into Safe Mode until you actively disable it, you can follow these steps:

Windows 11 search showing system configuration

  • Switch to the Boot tab and activate Safe start.

Windows 11 system setup application with Safe Boot enabled

  • The three options below let you choose between different variations of Safe Mode. Minimal is the standard safe mode, while Alternative shell gives you the command prompt interface.
  • Click on Okay and restart the PC. You will now boot into Safe Mode after each reboot. You can rerun the System Setup Tool to return to normal Windows mode by disabling Safe Mode.

That’s all you need to know to start Windows 11 in Safe Mode. As we mentioned, this can be an important tool in troubleshooting issues with your PC, but it’s not something you want to do all the time. Still, it helps to know when you need it.

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