How & When To Start Windows 7 in Safe Mode

How & When To Start Windows 7 in Safe Mode
Page content

What is Safe Mode

Safe Mode is used when troubleshooting a computer. If you plan on running virus scans, spyware scans or troubleshooting you need to learn how to start Windows 7 in Safe Mode. When you start your Windows 7 in Safe Mode it loads only the basic drivers and files that are necessary to run Windows.

Start Windows 7 in Safe Mode

Restart your computer by clicking Start, click the arrow next to the Shutdown button, and click Restart.

If you have only one operating system installed press and hold down the F8 key as your computer restarts. You need to press the F8 key before the Windows logo appears. If it appears before you press F8, you will have to restart again. It is normal to miss it the first time so don’t worry. Just click Start and Restart and try again.

If your computer has more than one operating system highlight the operating system you want to start up in Safe Mode using the arrow keys and then press F8 to enter the advanced boot options.

When your Windows 7 computer starts in Safe Mode you will see an Advanced Options screen. Highlight the Safe Mode option you want and press Enter. Make sure to log in as an Administrator.

When your computer boots up your screen should look like this:


Safe Mode Options

Safe Mode with Networking

If you start Windows 7 in Safe Mode using this option, you will have access to the Internet while in Safe Mode. If you are running virus scans or spyware scans, you need to update the software first. You need to have access to the Internet to do this. You may need to access the Internet for help when troubleshooting your computer. Most people use this option when booting into Safe Mode.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Starting Windows in Safe Mode with Command Prompt loads up to a command prompt window. This option is usually used by IT professionals and administrators.

When you are finished troubleshooting in Safe Mode restart your computer normally.

Your desktop will looking different while in safe mode with networking. The Desktop icons look larger and grainy because the graphics card is in basic VGA mode. You will notice the startup items next to the clock in the bottom right corner are not there. Only the needed services run during Safe Mode. Since Safe Mode is used mostly for troubleshooting you are unable to do many things. You can’t make CDs, listen to music, download software, install, or uninstall programs if they use the Windows Installer. Malware/spyware and virus programs will run in Safe Mode, but a lot of other software won’t. That is okay because the only programs you will want to use in safe mode are troubleshooting programs such as malware/spyware removiers, virus applications, etc.

Another Option to Boot Into Safe Mode

You can also use msconfig to start Windows 7 in safe mode if you are having problems with the options above. To do this type msconfig in the search field and click the Boot tab. Choose Safe Mode Boot, click OK, and restart your computer. This time let your computer restart normally. It will automatically go into Safe Mode without pressing the F8 key.


Hopefully, by now you have started your Windows 7 computer in Safe Mode. Troubleshooting a computer in Safe Mode is much easier and most things run a lot faster. Remember, most of the time you will want to use Safe Mode with networking so you will have access to the Internet while you are troubleshooting your computer.