Tip: Tapping F8 not getting you into Safe Mode? Try holding F8

Ever crash your computer? If you say “no” you are a liar. Ever crash your computer and then it refuses to load into Windows? One of the most common causes of computer crashes is a new software change you made. One of the easiest ways to undo crash-causing software changes is booting into Windows Safe Mode and undoing what you (foolishly, in retrospect) did.

What Is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode is when Windows runs only with its basic/critical components. Thus if the crash is being caused by a software modification you made, Windows (typically) is able to load into Safe Mode because everything except basic/critical components are disabled.

Safe Mode is available in three forms:

  • Safe Mode
  • Safe Mode with Networking (i.e. Internet/network access)
  • Safe Mode with Command Prompt (Don’t do this one unless you like Windows Command Prompt)

How Do I Get Into Safe Mode?

When your computer is booting, keep tapping F8 on your keyboard. This tapping needs to occur at the initial screen that shows your manufacturer’s logo — not the Windows screen.

Tapping F8 brings up a menu from where you can select to boot into Safe Mode (any of its three forms).

Try Holding F8

Conventional techie wisdom says continually tap F8 at computer boot until either

  • Your break your fingers (yes, all then);
  • You break the F8 key;
  • You are brought to the menu that allows you to boot into Safe Mode.

The issue with conventional techie wisdom is it isn’t so wise. If tapping F8 a few times at computer boot doesn’t bring you to the Safe Mode selection screen, then tapping F8 a few more times won’t either. As it turns out, for some computers you must hold F8 at computer boot (the same initial screen where your manufacturer’s logo shows) instead of tap it.

Conclusion

I wish all dotTechies the best in regards to avoiding computer crashes. However, when crashes do happen, keep Safe Mode in mind. And remember: If tapping F8 doesn’t work, try holding F8. It may sound like simple advice but it seems like not too many people know the hold-F8 trick. For the past three years I was one of those people, never being able to figure out why my laptop refused to go into Safe Mode when I tapped F8. Now I know: I need to hold F8. Duh.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

[via Computer Hope]

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28 comments

  1. RobCr

    [@sam]
    If you are running Windows 7
    Use the run option to open msconfig
    Go to the Boot Tab, and tick the Safe Boot checkbox
    From now on, it will always start in Safe Mode, until you run msconfig again to untick that checbox

    Rob

  2. sam

    how do i get my samsung notebook NP350V5C to work in safe mode?? i pressed f8 thousands of times, held f8 down and tried numerous of other ways my laptop will not work or load or give me any settings at all.. what do i do? please anyone with any help will be grateful

  3. wibble

    On Samsung Ativ book 8, F8 did nothing (neither tapping or holding) – eventually in desperation I tried repeatedly tapping F2, F8, and F12 – and got into recovery mode. I’d love to know which does what

  4. RobCr

    [@powloo]
    When you say ‘new windows disc’ are you referring to a Win 7 install DVD ?
    Is it a full version or an OEM disc ?
    . . .

    If you are prepared to do a fresh install (which it sounds like you are), why do you need to also get into safe mode ?
    Is the start up process booting into the Win 7 install DVD ?
    If it is not, it is probable that the ‘bios’ menu is set to not give top priority to booting from the DVD drive.
    Try pressing the DEL key during power up, and see if that gets you into the ‘bios’ menu, so that you can tell it to boot DVD first, and HD second.
    If Del key does not get you in, post us the make and model number of the laptop, and we can look it up.

  5. powloo

    I have just been given an ex gov school laptop it works fine but is password protected I was told to just use the new windows disc and reformat ect but it will not go into safe mode it just reboots to windows “7″ and of course asks for password.

  6. Roman

    [@Stephen Bennett]

    I love you man. I thought I broke my computer. For hours I struggled. Everyone was talking about the safe mode options, I never knew how to get there. Now I know. Thank to so much and to everyone else who contributed to this. Do not know what to say about ASUS. Great computers, bu sometimes … ;))

  7. Rob (Down Under)

    I inherited a Toshiba laptop (Toshiba Satellite Pro A100) the other day.
    Owner discarded it because they could not do anything once they got into Windows (Drive full, Too many programs starting, Had a virus).
    Took me about 12 hours to get Windows fixed.
    Had to get into Safe Mode many times during that clean up. It had a lot of trouble ‘seeing’ my F8 attempts.
    If I held F8 down, it would soon give a continuous noise, and would not go into safe mode. I experimented and realized that the time to F8 with a vengeance is the instant that the F2 F12 message disappears.

    Rob
    PS The reason I did not avoid the 12 hour effort, by re-instaling Windows, is I like to get windows working long enough to run a drivers backup program. It is for that samee reason that I cracked the passwords, on my other inherited laptops, so that I can get into windows to backup the drivers, then do re-install of windows.

  8. cmpm

    Yes, Rob you are correct, but as a last resort to get into safe mode,
    when all else fails,
    powering it off during bootup will work most of the time.

    Personally when I’ve had to do it that way it didn’t mess up anything-that I know of :)

  9. Rob (Down Under)

    @Elroy:
    I would not be recommending that approach guys.
    As best I can tell, you would be deliberately corrupting Windows, and then it proffers Safe Mode.

    While your installed OS is nice and fresh, and your hardware is new and crisp, it might work ‘reliably’.
    But when your OS is getting old and dodgy, and your hardware is covering up(living with) a few problems, I would not be ‘poking the bear’.

  10. Elroy

    @cmpm: You can turn the power off with the power button as soon as the logo appears, before your desktop shows up, and then power it up again to get to the safe mode options. ….INTERESTING….I did not know that, thanks!

  11. cmpm

    You can turn the power off with the power button as soon as the logo appears, before your desktop shows up, and then power it up again to get to the safe mode options.

    Another thing is that most multimedia keyboards don’t recognize the ‘F’ buttons when booting up, so keep a standard keyboard around and plug it in if your keyboard is multimedia, such as Logitech and many others with extra keys for music, email and other extras.

  12. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Rob (Down Under): Thanks for the tip :-)

    @hatman: Glad you like it!

    @Stephen Bennett: Why must ASUS make it so complicated o_O

    @hal9000: Exactly. Why use F8 when you know it is for Safe Mode? Ugh

    @Reginald: Hehe, I don’t know if that is even possible… Well it is possible but it would require you to access Windows. And if you can access Windows I’m not sure why you want to go into Safe Mode.

    @Ed: That line in the article was meant as sarcasm :-)

  13. Ed

    I don’t think it would be so far fetched for someone to say they have never crashed their computer. In the years I have had mine I have only crashed it twice and I do a lot of things that aren’t advisable.

  14. hal9000

    Why Asus (and some other manufacturers) chose to put some BIOS options on f8 when they know safe mode is on that key is beyond me.

    ‘Stephen Bennett’ is correct in the way to do it, or even easier, just start pressing f8 as soon as the ‘press f8 for boot options’ screen disappears.

  15. Stephen Bennett

    @Ashraf: Ashraf and Jan, this is how it is done on some, if not all, ASUS boards… When the boot device menu appears, from having held the F8 key, select the boot device, and as soon as doing so, hold the F8 again. The safe mode option screen appears or at least that was my experience, for each of the three times I tried it a moment ago.

  16. Rob (Down Under)

    I am one of those types that does not care how things look. I prefer them to be practical/useful instead.
    Rather than a pretty Logo, you can see what is happening while XP is booting.
    tweaks DOT com/windows/36985/disable-xp-boot-logo/

    This is not a contradiction of Ashraf’s tip, it is just an extra feature that can come in handy sometimes.
    EG a couple of years back my PC refused to boot.
    I had the pretty Logo switched off, so I was able to see the trail of what was happening up to the point where it would stop loading.
    By a process of comparison on another XP machine, I was able to see what the next steps should have been.
    What had happened was three of my PreFetch files had got corrupted, and were stalling(preventing) the boot.
    I investigated what PreFetch was, and realized it was one of MS’s BS unnecessary complications that they included in the boot process.
    I managed to delete all the .pf files, and problem was solved.
    (My memory is frail. Possibly I did use Safe Mode to do the deletions, but without the ‘No Logo’ trick, I would not have known what needed fixing.)
    I have now permanently switched off PreFetch.
    I have also written to all the world’s leaders, asking them to legislate, to force MS to only have a simple robust boot process.
    I am still holding my breath.