How to start Windows 11 in safe mode

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Marie-Ange Demory
@marie-angedemory
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support.microsoft.com

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La Safe mode Windows has always been one powerful and versatile tool, which helps experts and enthusiasts to locate and possibly solve the problems that a PC may encounter during its operation.

When Windows starts up regularly and all device drivers are loaded which reside in a specific folder e all configured services are started, starting in Safe mode instead they are loaded Microsoft core drivers only, if available, for each device ei Windows essential services.



Once you boot your system in safe mode it is possible carry out maintenance operations, which are not normally feasible with the system started in a classic way, such as:

  • Removal of potentially unwanted programs, not uninstallable in normal mode because uninstallers report errors such as "file in use" or "unable to stop the service";
  • Removing drivers that prevented the operating system from starting correctly;
  • Identify unusual behaviors of the PC and what causes them;
  • Cleaning up some temporary files normally blocked by Windows services, such as the Windows update cache folder.

Before the advent of Windows 8, with the consequent spread of UEFI and secureboot, just hit the F8 key before Windows loaded to have access to boot options, including Safe Mode. From Windows 8 onwards this system is no longer available but the safe mode is always usable: in this guide we will show you two methods to start Windows 11 in safe mode.

Method 1: start Windows 11 in safe mode with msconfig

One of the simplest versatile Windows configuration utilities has always been the tool msconfig. We can find it by clicking on the start button and writing "msconfig”In the search bar at the top, as shown in the images below.



windows start menu 11

windows 11 start menu after the search

We can run it simply by pressing "enter" on the keyboard or by clicking on "open", the choice is yours.

Launched the utility, go to the "boot options" tab as shown in the picture.

The System Configuration Utility

Mark now "Safe mode" and select "minimum" from the list below. As you can guess, this will start the system in the bareest possible way, if you need the internet, put the check on "network", then apply the changes.

Now you can close msconfig; here the system will show a pop-up for restart, select "Restart" to switch to safe mode.


After the reboot, if you have followed each step, the words "safe mode" will appear on the sides of the screen.

Windows 11 running in safe mode with the characteristic black background

IThe system will remain in safe mode as long as there are ticks in msconfig, then to exit just re-run msconfig, remove the check from "safe mode" and restart the PC.

Method 2: Start Windows 11 in Safe Mode when the OS Won't Boot

A malfunctioning video or chipset driver, hardware changes, or unwanted programs can prevent Windows from starting properly. Once again, Safe Mode is a real lifesaver, but how to call it back if your PC doesn't boot? It will be necessary boot the PC from Windows installation media: if you don't have one, you can follow our guide on how to install Windows from a USB stick to create it.


Once started, select language and keyboard mapping and click next.

select here "reset the computer".

The PC will reboot into windows PE mode showing you 3 options, select "troubleshooting" and then "advanced options".

This is a full menu of recovery options offered by Microsoft, selected "Startup settings" and confirm at the next step by clicking on "Restart".

You will be shown the screen below, select 4 or 5 according to your needs. Once done, Windows 11 will boot into Safe Mode.

Following this method, Windows it will automatically exit safe mode upon reboot. So make sure you do all the necessary steps before restarting your PC, or follow the steps above again to enter Safe Mode again.

Audio Video How to start Windows 11 in safe mode
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