Easy Way to Open Safe Mode in Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1

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Would you like a really convenient way to get to Windows 7 or 8.x Safe Mode? Normally, it takes a number of steps as described for Windows 7 here and for Windows 8 at this link.  If you find yourself having to make frequent use of Safe Mode, here is a way to get there quickly and easily.

This tip is for experienced PC users. Please make a Restore Point or other system backup before using it.

Add Safe Mode to the desktop context menu

You can add a safe mode menu to the right-click context menu for the desktop using a method described at Windows Eight Forums. You will need to be in an administrator account.

There are two parts to the procedure for setting up this method for quick access to Safe Mode.

One part is modifying the Registry to place four entries in the desktop right-click context menu. The new entries are shown in the graphic below. The modification is done with a REG file. The entries give the option of booting into safe mode three ways or booting the normal way.

The second part is placing scripts in the Windows folder to implement the new commands that are added to the context menu. The scripts use the command-line tool BCDEdit to modify the boot configuration. There are four VBS scripts, three to modify the boot configuration to boot into different versions of safe mode and one to return the boot process to the normal configuration.

The REG file and VBS scripts come in a ZIP file. The download link and instructions for using them are at this link. Because of their nature, using them will trigger UAC warnings. They are from a reputable source and get a clean bill of health from VirusTotal and my copy of MalwareBytes.  I tried them on Windows 8.1 Update 64-bit with no problems.

Safe mode in desktop context menu

Installation procedure

  1. Download the ZIP file to a convenient location like the desktop and extract the contents
  2. There will be a REG file and a folder called Safe_Mode with the VBS scripts. The author talks about unblocking the scripts but I did not find this necessary
  3. Move the Safe_Mode folder with its scripts into the Windows folder. You may get a UAC challenge since the Windows folder is protected. The scripts have to be here because that is the location referenced in the REG file. If you know what you are doing, you could in principle modify the REG file to change the location.
  4. Add the REG file by double-clicking it or by right-clicking and choosing “Merge”. Approve its running and answer any UAC challenge. The REG file can then be discarded.

The author also provides a BAT file to remove the safe mode options from the context menu.

How to use the Safe Mode context menu entries

Once the context menu entries are in place, reaching Safe Mode is just a matter of selecting an entry from the desktop right-click context menu and answering the UAC challenge. The system will then reboot into Safe Mode. Since BCDEdit has been used to change the boot process, you will want to use the context menu again and select "Restart in Normal Mode" when you have finished with Safe Mode. This will restore the boot configuration to its normal state.

Of course, if you want Safe Mode because your system won’t boot, you need a different procedure. And that is why I will once more urge everyone to create an emergency repair disk. The method for Windows 8 is given here and for Windows 8.1 in this article.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

Excellent article! Thank you!

BootSafe from FoolishIT is a handy portable utillity (87 kB unpacked)
VirusTotal = 0/55
http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/foolishit_bootsafe.html

@alexxx46:

Thank you BUT: You need a running OS to run this utility, right?

With Windows 7 and earlier we could get into Safe Mode with F8. And 95 out of 100 times the OS wouldn't start any more that was THE life line.

With Windows 8 and Safe Boot enabled (the default on all machines running like Microsoft wanted it) that DOES NOT WORK! You just can't "run the utility" as MajorGeeks says (your link).

I should have mentioned I'm running Win7, sorry. With my OS, Bootsafe is working flawlessly. And yes, it's good for Safe Mode restart only.

Well, I know I am terribly late to this party - but then, the article got just pointed to again.

All this is nice and dandy but the Win 8 system needs to be up and running to use any of these tweaks, shortcuts or whatever they are.

In my limited experience the big problem is to start Win 8 into Safe Mode when the "normal" OS does not start any longer AND does not end up in the troubleshooting options that then allow you to restart the box into Safe Mode.

Has happened more than a few times in cases where the "classic" way with F8 would have been a life saver.

So I have reverted to setting on all my customer's boxes with Win8 the boot menu policy to legacy right in the beginning when I do the first set up and clean up.

YMMV.

F8 F8 F8 F8, ah there we go, Windows boot options.

Thanks for this neat shortcut!

You can also simply hold down the Shift key while clicking on Restart (in any of the menus where it is found) to boot into Safe Mode.

Doesn't work in Windows 7 and does not boot directly to Safe Mode in 8.1 but opens a screen where you can choose some troubleshooting options.

Thanks for the clarification - I never tried it in 7, but knew it opened the recovery options in 8.x.

It's a useful trick and worth knowing about.

Interesting, I can't say I'd need it though.

Another way to force Safe Mode if you're not good at hitting the right key (in W7 and earlier at least) is to open System Configuration (press the Win key and type System Configuration or msconfig Same result) select the Boot tab then the Safe Boot check box and (probably) the Network radio button.

I can't remember when I last needed Safe Mode, not like W9x days.