How to Boot into Windows 11 Safe Mode

Windows Settings Repair

Troubleshoot critical Windows 11 issues by booting your system into the Safe Mode

Safe Mode helps troubleshoot a lot of issues with Windows. When you boot into safe mode, it does not load any third-party apps and just the required drivers. This makes Safe Mode an efficient space for troubleshooting.

Earlier, you could boot into Safe Mode right at startup by pressing the relevant keys. But, that’s become a lot harder now since the startup time has considerably reduced. Also, many computer manufacturers disable this option. Therefore it’s time you learn the other way to boot Windows in Safe Mode.

In the following sections, we have listed several methods to boot into Windows 11 Safe Mode, and each has its own advantage. However, before heading over to the methods, you must know the types of Safe Mode.

Three Types of Safe Mode

Safe Mode can be categorized into three types.

  • Safe Mode: This is the simplest of all, where mimium drivers and no third-party apps are loaded. Since the basic drivers are loaded, the graphics aren’t great and the icons appear to be big and lack clarity. Also, Safe Mode would be written at the four corners of the screen.
  • Safe Mode with Networking: Apart from the the drivers and settings loaded earlier, Network drivers will be loaded in this case. This helps you connect to the internet while in the safe mode, however, it’s not recommended that you browse the web when booting the Windows in Safe Mode.
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt: When you select this option, only the Command Prompt is launched and not Windows GUI, which means that it would just be a Command Prompt window on the screen. This is used for advanced troubleshooting by users.

Now that you understand the various types of Safe Mode and would be able to make the necessary selection when prompted, it’s time we move to the various methods to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode.

1. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from Settings

To boot into Safe Mode via Windows Settings, search for ‘Settings’ in the Start Menu and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.

The ‘System’ settings will launch by default, scroll down on the right and select the ‘Recovery’ option.

Various recovery options will be listed on the screen, including resetting the PC, reverting to the previous version of Windows, and advanced startup. Next, click on ‘Restart now’ next to ‘Advanced startup to enter the Windows Recovery Environment.

Next, click on ‘Restart now’ in the box that appears.

Now, the system will restart, and the system will start in Windows Recovery Environment.

Access Safe Mode from Windows RE (Recovery Environment)

In Windows RE, you will have three options on the screen, select ‘Troubleshoot’.

In the ‘Troubleshoot’ screen, select ‘Advanced Options’.

You will now find multiple options on the screen. Select ‘Startup Settings’.

The various Windows options under Startup Settings will now be listed. Next, click on ‘Restart’ near the bottom-right.

You will now find options listed on the screen numbered one to nine. The numbers four to six are the various types of ‘Safe Mode’. Either press the relevant number keys (4, 5, or 6) or the function keys (F4, F5, or F6) to boot Windows in Safe Mode.

Windows 11 will now boot in Safe Mode.

2. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from Start Menu

You wouldn’t directly be booting Windows into Safe Mode but could quickly access the Windows RE (Recovery Environment).

To enter the Windows 11 Recovery Mode from Start Menu, press the WINDOWS key to launch the Start Menu, click on the ‘Power’ icon, and then hold the SHIFT key and click on ‘Restart’.

The system will now restart in Windows RE. Once there, follow the steps mentioned above.

3. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from Sign-in Screen

You can also get to the Windows Recovery Mode from the sign-in screen that appears when you turn on your computer, in case you’re not able to sign in to your PC.

To boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from the sign-in screen, click on the ‘Power’ icon at the bottom-right corner, and then hold the SHIFT key and click on ‘Restart’.

The system will restart and enter the Windows RE. Then, follow the steps mentioned earlier to launch Safe Mode from the recovery environment.

4. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode from Command Prompt

Many users prefer using the Command Prompt to execute tasks on Windows. The best part, you can also boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode with Command Prompt, although it will only take you to the Windows RE. Here’s how you do it.

To boot in Safe Mode with Command Prompt, search for ‘Windows Terminal’ in the Start Menu and select the ‘Windows Terminal’ app from there.

In Windows Terminal, check if it’s PowerShell or Command Prompt tab that launches. If it’s Command Prompt, move to the next step to execute the command. If it’s PowerShell that launches, click on the downward-facing arrow and select ‘Command Prompt’ from the drop-down menu.

Note: You can set the ‘Default Profile’ as Command Prompt in the Terminal settings to launch it by default when you open Windows Terminal.

Once you have launched Command Prompt in Windows Terminal, enter the following command and press ENTER to boot into Windows Recovery Mode.

shutdown.exe /r /o

You will now receive a prompt saying that Windows will shut down in a minute. Wait for a while for the system to enter the recovery environment and then follow the step mentioned in the instructions above to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode.

5. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode by Modifying System Configurations

All the methods discussed earlier will boot Windows in Safe Mode once, and when you restart the system, it will boot in normal mode. However, if you are troubleshooting and require the Windows to launch in Safe Mode every time you restart the system, you can set it in the ‘System Configuration’. Also, this wouldn’t load the recovery environment. Rather directly launch Windows 11 in Safe Mode.

To boot in Safe Mode by modifying System Configuration, press WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter msconfig in the search box and then either click ‘OK’ or press ENTER to launch the System Configuration window.

In System Configuration, navigate to the ‘Boot’ tab and select the checkbox for ‘Safe boot’ under ‘Boot options’. Now, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.

Next, click on ‘Restart’ in the confirmation box that appears.

Windows 11 will now boot in Safe Mode every time you turn on the system. To launch Windows normally, launch ‘System Configuration’, uncheck the option for ‘Safe Mode’, and save the changes.

6. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode by Force Shut Down

All the above methods work only if Windows can boot in normal mode. However, some issues prevent Windows from launching altogether. So how do you boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode in this case?

The process is simple. However, it’s recommended that you opt for it only if Windows does not launch since it could damage the system. Whenever Windows crashes thrice consecutively, it would automatically enter the Automatic Repair Mode from where you can access the Recovery Environment.

The catch is, you would have to fake crash Windows 11. To do that, turn on the computer and wait for the Windows to start booting. As soon as it does, long-press the power button to shut down the computer. You would have to repeat this thrice, and when you turn on the system the fourth time, it will enter Automatic Repair Mode.

Windows will next run a diagnosis and then try to repair the issues, which in all likelihood don’t exist since you crashed it.

Now, click on ‘Advanced options’ to enter Window RE.

Once in the Recovery Environment, you can boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode, as discussed earlier.

7. Boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode with a Bootable USB

If Windows 11 isn’t booting at all, even the force shut down doesn’t seem to work, you can launch Safe Mode with a Bootable USB drive. You will need another working PC to create a bootable USB drive. Once you have created a Bootable USB, plug it into the system that’s malfunctioning, and turn it on.

Note: The screenshots below are for an HP laptop. The interface and inputs may vary from one manufacturer to another. Therefore, search the web or look up the manual that came with the system for more help.

As soon as the screen light up, press the ESC key to enter the ‘Startup Menu’. Once the ‘Startup Menu’ opens, look for the key for ‘Boot Device Options’ and press it. In most cases, it would be F9.

On the ‘Boot Manager’ screen, use the arrow keys to select the USB drive you booted earlier and press ENTER.

Wait for Windows to get things ready. It may take a couple of minutes. The process may appear stuck but do no turn off your computer.

When the setup loads, select the language, time and currency format, and input method from the three drop-down menus. Now, click on ‘Next’ at the bottom-right of the setup window.

You will now find the ‘Repair your computer’ option at the bottom-left of the setup window. Click on it.

Next, select ‘Troubleshoot’ from the three options presented on the screen.

In the Advanced options, select ‘Command Prompt’.

An elevated Command Prompt will now launch. Then, enter the following command and press ENTER.

bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal

Once the command is executed, close the Command Prompt window, and click on ‘Continue’.

Windows 11 will now boot in Safe Mode every time you turn on the computer unless the setting is changed from the ‘System Configuration’ or ‘Command Prompt’.

You now know how to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode, whatever be the issue.

File Explorer (explorer.exe) Keeps Crashing in Windows 11 Safe Mode

Many users have reported being unable to perform any Windows 11 Safe Mode tasks since the File Explorer kept crashing. In addition, when you try to close the warning box (shown in the picture below), it keeps popping back up.

If you have booted Windows 11 into Safe Mode just once, restarting the computer will get you back into normal mode. However, those of you who have changed the System Configuration to always launch Windows 11 in Safe Mode would be in a bit of trouble since you wouldn’t be able to access ‘System Configuration’ through the ‘Run’ command.

If that’s the case, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to launch the ‘Task Manager’, then click on the ‘File’ menu at the top left, and then select ‘Run new task’.

Next, enter ‘msconfig’ in the text box and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to launch System Configuration.

In System Configuration, navigate to the ‘Boot’ tab, untick the checkbox for ‘Safe boot’, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes.

Click on ‘Restart’ in the confirmation box that pops up boot Windows 11 in normal mode.

We have discussed all there’s to Safe Mode on Windows 11 and the various ways to access it. Troubleshooting errors on Windows 11 Safe Mode won’t be a trouble anymore.