Windows Startup Settings (including safe mode)

With the Windows Startup Settings screen (formerly advanced boot options) you can start Windows in different advanced troubleshooting modes so you can find and fix problems on your PC. In previous versions of Windows, you could get to this screen by pressing F8 before Windows started up. Windows 8 PCs start up quickly so there's not enough time to press F8.

There are two ways to get to the Windows Startup Settings screen in Windows 8 :

  • If you're not signed in to Windows, tap or click the power icon Power icon from the sign-in screen, hold Shift, and then tap or click Restart
  • Or, if you're already signed in:

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

    2. Under PC settings, tap or click General.

    3. Under Advanced startup, tap or click Restart now.

    4. On the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot.

    5. Tap or click Startup Settings.

    6. Tap or click Restart.

    7. On the Startup Settings screen, choose the startup setting you want.

    8. Sign in to your PC with a user account that has administrator rights.

Some options, such as safe mode, start Windows in a limited state where only essential programs are started. Other options start Windows with advanced features (typically used by system admins and IT professionals). For more info, go to the Microsoft website for IT professionals.

Show all

Debugging Mode

Starts Windows in an advanced troubleshooting mode intended for IT professionals and system administrators.

Enable Boot Logging

Creates a file, ntbtlog.txt, that lists all the drivers that are installed during startup and that might be useful for advanced troubleshooting.

Enable low-resolution video (640×480)

Starts Windows using your current video driver and using low resolution and refresh rate settings. You can use this mode to reset your display settings.

Safe Mode

Starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services. If a problem doesn't reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers and services as possible causes.

Safe Mode with Networking

Starts Windows in safe mode and includes the network drivers and services needed to access the Internet or other computers on your network.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Starts Windows in safe mode with a Command Prompt window instead of the usual Windows interface. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators.

Disable driver signature enforcement

Allows drivers containing improper signatures to be installed.

Disable early launch antimalware protection

Prevents the early launch antimalware driver from starting, allowing drivers that might contain malware to be installed.

Disable automatic restart after failure

Prevents Windows from automatically restarting if an error causes Windows to fail. Choose this option only if Windows is stuck in a loop where Windows fails, tries to restart, and fails again repeatedly.

Directory Services Restore Mode

Starts Windows domain controller running Active Directory so that the directory service can be restored. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators.


  • If you're using BitLocker on a tablet or Windows RT device, you'll need to suspend BitLocker before you can get to Windows Startup Settings.

Need more help?