Failures in the OS most often occur after incorrect configuration, installation of unfinished programs or virus infection. Booting into safe mode will show if these issues are indeed the cause and, if so, will help fix them.
How to enable safe mode in Windows
1. Using hotkeys
- Suitable for Windows 7 and earlier.
Restart the computer and, as soon as the system starts to boot again, press the F8 key until a menu of additional boot options appears. When it appears on the screen, select «Safe Mode» (or Safe Mode) and press Enter.
To exit safe mode, simply restart your computer and it will start as usual.
2. Through the system configurator
- Suitable for Windows 11, 10, 8, 8.1, 7 and earlier.
Use the key combination Windows + R. In the window that appears, enter the command msconfig and press Enter. When the system configurator window opens, go to the «Boot» (or BOOT) tab and check the «Safe Mode» (or SAFEBOOT) item. Click OK and restart your computer.
To disable booting in safe mode, open the configurator window again, uncheck the «Safe Mode» item and restart the device.
3. Through special download options
- Suitable for Windows 11, 10, 8 and 8.1.
Open the «Start» menu, go to «Settings» and then to «System» → «Recovery». Under Advanced Startup Options, click Restart Now.
Once in recovery mode and seeing the Choose an action screen, go to Troubleshooting (or Diagnostics) → Advanced Options → Boot Options and click Restart.
On the next screen, press the 4 key to bring up the «Enable Safe Mode» option. To exit it, simply restart your computer.
4. Through reboot with Shift key
- Suitable for Windows 11, 10, 8 and 8.1.
This is a simplified version of the previous method. Hold down the Shift key and click on the soft reset button that you use to restart your system normally. When you get to the «Select Action» screen, follow the steps indicated for this window in the third method.
The same can be done from the lock screen by clicking on the power button, and then on the «Restart» item, while holding down the Shift key.
To exit safe mode in both cases, simply restart your computer.
How to enable safe mode in macOS
1. Using a key combination
Depending on the processor used, the combinations differ. If you don’t know which one is installed on your computer, click on the apple icon in the menu bar and select About This Mac. If it says «Chip» under the model name, then you have an Apple processor, if «Processor» then your Mac is running on an Intel platform.
For Apple chips
Shut down your Mac completely, then press and hold the power button until you see Loading Launch Options on the screen. Select the boot volume (it will most likely be the only one) and then press and hold the Shift key and choose Continue in Safe Mode.
For Intel processors
Turn off your computer, then turn it on and immediately press and hold Shift until you see the login window. Log in and select the Boot in Safe Mode option.
To exit Safe Mode, simply restart your Mac without using any additional keys.
2. Using the command line
Launch the «Terminal» from the Applications folder → Utilities or via Spotlight. Copy and paste the command sudo nvram boot‑args=»-x», enter the administrator password, and press Enter. After that, restart your computer.
To disable safe mode, call the «Terminal» again, enter the command sudo nvram boot‑args=»»click Enter and restart your Mac.
What to do next
In safe mode, only a standard set of services, drivers, settings, and programs are loaded with the system. If everything works fine, then there must be something wrong with third-party programs or recently changed OS settings.
In this case, you need to check your computer with an antivirus and remove suspicious software directly in safe mode. If this does not help, you should consider restoring Windows or macOS to normal.
If problems occur in safe mode and even OS recovery does not change the situation, most likely something is wrong with the hardware of the device. First of all, make sure that the components do not overheat, and clean the computer if necessary. If the temperature is normal, contact the service center.
This article was first published in December 2017. In September 2022, we updated the text.
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