How to Boot Windows in “Safe Mode” When “F8” Key is not Working? Add “Safe Mode” Option to Windows Boot Loader

"Safe Mode" in Windows is a special mode which is mainly used for troubleshooting purposes. Many times when you can't boot into Windows because of a virus infection, a faulty software or driver installation, you can boot into Safe Mode and fix the problem. You can scan your system with antivirus, uninstall faulty software or driver using Safe Mode and you'll be able to boot into Windows normally without any problem.

So you can see Safe Mode is very useful feature of Windows OS. If you don't know how to boot into Safe Mode, let us tell you in details!

To boot into Safe Mode, you need to press "F8" key in your keyboard just before Windows boot screen appears. If you have a dual boot system, you can press "F8" key when the boot loader is shown where you select a Windows to boot. As soon as you press "F8" key, a new screen is shown which contains several booting options and on top of all options, you get an option to start Windows in Safe Mode.

Many times you are not able to get the screen where you select Safe Mode option. Sometimes "F8" key doesn't work in many systems or sometimes you can't press the "F8" key exactly when it needs to be pressed by you.

Then what to do in such situation? How to access Safe Mode option and boot into Safe Mode successfully?

Don't worry. Today in this tutorial, we'll tell you a way to add a new option in Windows boot loader to boot Windows into Safe Mode. In this way, you'll not need to press "F8" key. Just select Safe Mode option from Windows boot loader and get ready to boot Windows in Safe Mode without any problem.

So without wasting time, lets start the tutorial. We have divided this tutorial in 2 parts:

  • STEP 1: Adding a new entry for Safe Mode in Windows boot loader
  • STEP 2: Adding functionality to new entry in Windows boot loader

STEP 1: Adding a New Entry for Safe Mode in Windows Boot Loader

First we'll add a new entry in Windows boot loader to start Windows in Safe Mode. We'll do that by making a copy of existing Windows entry in boot loader.

This method is different for Windows XP and Windows Vista, 7.

For Windows XP and Server 2003 users:

1. Right-click on My Computer icon and select Properties. It'll open System Properties window. You can directly open it by using sysdm.cpl command in RUN.

2. Now go to "Advanced" tab and click on "Settings" button present in "Startup and Recovery" section.

3. It'll open a new window. Now click on "Edit" button as shown in following screenshot:


4. It'll open "boot.ini" file in Notepad. This is the main file which provides required information to Windows boot loader like which entries should be shown, how much time should be given to users, etc.

The boot.ini file content should be similar to following:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

5. Now we need to make a copy of existing Windows entry. We'll select the last line showing "Microsoft Windows XP Professional", copy it and paste it at the end. So now the file content should look like following:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

As you can see now there are 2 same entries in the file. Now edit the 2nd entry and add "Safe Mode" text after Windows XP Professional label.

So the final content of the boot.ini file would look like following:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional Safe Mode" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect


Save the file and close it.

That's it. We have successfully added a new entry in boot loader to start Windows in Safe Mode.

For Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Server 2008  users:

Windows Vista and Windows 7 boot loader is quite different from Windows XP boot loader. It doesn't use boot.ini file. Although you can use built-in BCDEDIT command to modify boot loader, its a bit complicated task. So we are going to use a freeware "VistaBootPro" to modify Windows Vista and Windows 7 boot loader.

1. First download and install VistaBootPro using following link:

Download VistaBootPRO

2. Now open the software and click on "Manage OS Entries" tab. The program might show a warning message for Windows 7 users, ignore it.

3. You'll see a checkbox "Add New OS Entry" at the bottom of the window. Enable the checkbox, provide any desired name in "OS Name" text box which you want to set for new entry in boot loader to start Windows in Safe Mode. We'll use "Windows 7 Safe Mode" for OS Name.

Select "OS Type" as "Windows Vista". Don't worry! Even if you are editing Windows 7 boot loader, you'll need to select Windows Vista as OS type. It'll work without any problem.

Select "OS Drive" as C:.


4. That's it. Click on "Apply Updates" button and you have added a new entry in Windows boot loader to start Windows in Safe Mode.

STEP 2: Adding Functionality to New Entry in Windows Boot Loader

In above step we have added a new entry in Windows boot loader but it'll not start Windows in Safe Mode as we have not changed the entry functionality.

In this step, we'll set the entry to start Windows in Safe Mode.

1. Type msconfig in RUN or start menu search box and press Enter. It'll open System Configuration Utility window.

2. Now go to "BOOT.INI" tab in Windows XP and "Boot" tab in Windows Vista and 7 systems.

3. Now you just need to select the new entry for Safe Mode which we created in step 1 and enable "Safe Boot" option for it as shown in following screenshots:

Windows XP or Server 2003:


Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Server 2008:


4. That's it. Click on Apply button and you have successfully added a new entry in Windows boot loader to start Windows in Safe Mode.

Using "Safe Mode" Option Present in Windows Boot Loader

Now when you'll start your system, you'll see the new option to start Windows in Safe Mode present in boot loader:


Select the option using arrow keys and press Enter key. It'll start booting Windows in Safe Mode and you'll be able to boot Windows into Safe Mode without any problem:


Feel free to share your feedback or ask any question regarding this tutorial in your comment...

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

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  • Veryyyy veryyy thnx......:)
    it is very useful for me..,.tHnx again.,..

  • I was hopeful that this would remedy my inability to select Safe Mode when booting.

    Following your instructions on my (beloved) XP Home machine I now see the option to boot in safe mode but am still hampered that my Microsoft wireless keyboard does not respond at this point in the boot process.

    Is there a way to have the keyboard responding at this point?

    Thank you for everything you share with us. Your tips and theme have greatly improved my work day.


  • Awesome and very very useful...Thanks VG

  • It is really a new thing to learn for me!

    I never thought of this:
    "How to Boot Windows in “Safe Mode” When “F8″ Key is not Working?"

    It is a good question.
    I think the above addition is a must-have for every PCs.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • There is a easier sollution. Hold in the CTRL when the PC starts, and it will give you the menu where you can choose to go into Safe mode. Much easier that this method, but this method could be usefull somehow. Just cant think of something right now.

  • nice, a few days ago I was thinking why is it so difficult to get into safe mode?
    this is exactly what is described on this page, next time win7 will crash I can fix it easily!

  • Useful tuto. Thanks!

  • Thanks Vishal!

    Although I didn't add Safe Mode, it helped me a lot because I accidently added a Linux option!

  • Another stupid decision by Microsoft. If I need to boot in safe mode, most of the time it is because I can't boot in Windows normally. The guy at MS that took this decision should be fired. Same for the removal of the wireless profile list. Windows 8 makes it harder for techs to troubleshoot problems.

  • I think the question being asked is how to get into safe mode when you start or restart your PC and your wireless keyboard doesn't function until Windows is loaded.
    Adding a new option in Windows boot loader to boot Windows into Safe Mode is a great idea. But if your wireless keyboard doesn't allow you to hit F8 how are you going to be able to scroll down to click on it?
    There were times I could get into Safe Mode and then the keyboard wouldn't work.
    Using my wired keyboard there is no problem. Inconvenient plugging it back in to the PC and unplugging.
    Using msconfig is very helpful using the Boot....Safe boot option. Keyboard works fine in Safe Mode.
    What happens if you can't get into msconfig from Windows?
    I start my PC and the keyboard doesn't work to get into F2 settings or F8 Safe Mode
    If I use my Windows CD I can't boot into it using F12 boot menu options because keyboard not working.until Windows loads.

  • I love this solution. Seems easy to apply. But I dont need 'Safe Mode' to appear, I need 'Repair Your Computer' showing on Boot. Can you give me suggestion for that?!
    Recently I cant access 'Repair Your Computer' every I press F8 it redirect to Normal Booting.
    Please, 'Repair Your Computer' option is more useful for me than 'Safe Mode'. Please! Tell me how! Thanks!

  • thank u sir

  • Well. information is useful but not in my PC problem is it restart over again and again in boot time only not letting me choose anything.. and key F8 is not working at all nothing appears on screen only F2 to enter in BIOS. Tried a lot but my system does not work at all. suggest me how to enter the command suggested by you when problem is to load the OS once.. so that i can make the change.
    thanks in advance

  • VG

    ^^ The main purpose of this tutorial was to add Safe Mode option in Windows boot loader which can be used for troubleshooting purposes. Your case is different. You can boot using Windows setup disc and then try to repair Windows.

  • what do i do if the systems window cannot open either

  • If system is not booting and also F8 is not working what to do

  • why when i select F8 my computer show "Please select boot device" please help me!?

  • VG

    ^^ Your computer is showing select boot device menu upon F8 press. As soon as you pass that screen, immediately press F8 again.

  • i have a big problem to entry in the safe mode i was trying your mode but in the SYSTEM CONFIGURATION UTILITY i don t have boot.ini tab why????

  • I have a modem but windows can't detect it when i use safe mode (windows7) .Can you please fine me a way so that i can force windows to detect it.Please Bro Help :D

  • Options for boot.ini (XP):
    Modus: Abgesicherter Modus
    Befehlszeilenoption: /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog /noguiboot
    Modus: Abgesicherter Modus mit Netzwerktreibern
    Befehlszeilenoption: /safeboot:network /sos /bootlog /noguiboot
    Modus: Abgesicherter Modus mit Eingabeaufforderung
    Befehlszeilenoption: /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell) /sos /bootlog /noguiboot
    Modus: Startprotokollierung aktivieren
    Befehlszeilenoption: /bootlog
    Modus: VGA-Modus aktivieren
    Befehlszeilenoption: /basevideo
    Modus: Verzeichnisdienstwiederherstellung (Windows-Domänencontroller)
    Befehlszeilenoption: /safeboot:dsrepair /sos
    Modus: Debugmodus
    Befehlszeilenoption: /debug

    example boot.ini where Windowsdirectory is WINNT:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server" /fastdetect /SAFEBOOT:MINIMAL(ALTERNATESHELL)

  • Hi, thanks for the above details, but on my windows 7 Ultimate I have activated paragon 9 boot manager, so whatever button I press, I get boot manager windows, with two options, one is floppy disk and the other is win vista, which when I press enter I get a black screen with a flashing cursor at the top left corner. However if I put my original Windows 7 dvd, I can get the message to log through that dvd, which will install windows as usual, and That I don't need.
    Please advice me on what to do. Thank you.

  • thank you so much sir.....

  • Dear All,

    IN F5 also we can boot in safe mode.

  • In the Comments - SEVERAL people have described their keyboard does NOT work in startup mode and no way to scroll down to "Windows 7 Safe Mode" option. I am experiencing the exact same problem. HOWEVER - You do not offer any work-around. PLEASE TELL US HOW TO FIX THIS SITUATION. Again, my ARROW KEYS, and keyboard in general does not work. I hope you offer a fix for this. Otherwise your tutorial is worthless. BY THE WAY - the domain name: is currently FOR SALE. Not a good sign that the company is going to be around or offer any support. WebbMan.

  • Immediately upon startup, prior to the BIOS attempting to load up, enter the CPU manufacturer's BIOS Setup/ diagnostic mode. On my PC this is done by repeatedly hitting DEL at startup. Then under Integrated Peripherals, ensure that USB Keyboard Function is set to ENABLED. Then hit SAVE. Rebooting now, the keyboard should work when you get the the Safe Mode screen.

  • भाई जी मेरा I ball wq 32 विंडोज8. 1 टेबलेट बूट करने पर यह सन्देश प्रदर्शित करता है
    "" windows could not complete the installation. to install windows on this computer, Restart installation

    और रुक जाता है मैं ok दबाता हूँ तो टेबलेट ऑटो रीस्टार्ट होकर फिर यही सन्देश प्रदर्शित करता है
    ओके करने पर उपरोक्त प्रक्रिया दोहराता रहता है

    इसके साथ ही एक समस्या और हुई है की टेबलेट का BIOS भी एक्सेस नही हो रहा है.

    कृपया उचित समाधान बताएं।

  • VG

    ^^ It seems you'll need to reinstall Windows in your tablet. What problem are you facing while accessing BIOS?

  • This doesn't make any sense to me because if we are in a situation where we have to launch windows in boot mode but we can't, how can we download and run anything? I am seeking out Safe Mode because my laptop gets an error message preventing me from entering my password successfully.

  • It works........
    Thanks a lot

  • In server 2008, and probably Vista, you can do faster without installing any other software.
    At the Run line enter MSCONFIG and press Enter.
    Click the Boot tab and select the check box next to Safe Boot,
    If you have multiple lines listed in the top window (multi-boot), be sure to pick the right one.
    Click OK and then restart when prompted.

  • This does not work in XP. I had doubts when I saw that the only thing that changed was the text within the quotes. There is nothing that reads text within quotes and then boots into safe mode.
    The rest of the line is the part that boots the computer and it's exactly the same, so it boots exactly the same.
    It anyone has ever gotten this to work on an XP I would like to know.

  • VG

    ^^ You missed the STEP 2. We add functionality to the new entry in step 2.

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