Home » How To Enable The F8 Key For Safe Mode In Windows 10 & 11

How To Enable The F8 Key For Safe Mode In Windows 10 & 11

Safe Mode is a way of booting your Windows computer with the absolute minimum of files and drivers loaded. Just enough to get the system to start up. Safe Mode is mostly used when troubleshooting a PC.

In the old days (pre-Windows 8), if you were having problems with your computer, you could easily start it in Safe Mode by rapidly tapping on the F8 key on your keyboard as the machine boots. Since Windows 8 (including both Windows 10 and Windows 11) that doesn’t work.

However, all is not lost. You can enable the F8 key to boot into Safe Mode in both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How To Enable F8 Key To Boot Into Safe Mode

To get started enabling the F8 key, open Command Prompt as an Administrator.

Left-click the START button and type cmd into the search box. When Command Prompt (App) appears in the results, right-click on it and then left-click RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR.

Windows 10 start menu open. Command prompt visible. Run as administrator highlighted
Windows 10 – Run Command Prompt as Administrator
Windows 11 Start menu open and Command Prompt is in search results. Run as administrator is marked
Windows 11 – Run Command Prompt as Administrator

In both Windows 10 and 11, you’ll probably see a User Account Control window pop up.

Check that it is referring to Windows Command Processor and click the YES button to continue.

User Account Control for Command Prompt. The Yes button is indicated
Click YES to continue

The Command Prompt can take a few moments to fully load, so give it time.

You’ll know when you’re ready to go when you see the flashing (or blinking) cursor.

Cursor begins flashing (blinking) in Command Prompt. A red tick appears
When cursor flashes, Command Prompt is ready to go.

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To Enable The F8 Key in Both Windows 10 and 11

To enable the F8 keypress, type this command exactly as it is written here and press the Enter key on your keyboard.

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

Or better still, you can copy and paste it into Command Prompt.

Don’t forget to press Enter.

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy typed into Command Prompt window to enable F8 key for Safe Mode
Type bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

After you press the Enter key on your keyboard you should see the message –

“The operation completed successfully”

That’s it, you’ve successfully enabled the F8 key to start Windows 10 and 11 in Safe Mode.

Command Prompt showing the operation completed successfully. F8 key enabled
The operation completed successfully.

Note

If you get any other type of message, try again. The Command Prompt is a rather unforgiving tool and demands absolute accuracy when you’re typing in these commands.


Try it out for yourself. Reboot your computer and keep tapping the F8 key.

The old Windows 7 style Advanced Boot Options page will appear.

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select either Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking or with Command Prompt.

Advanced Boot options for Windows 11. The old style Safe Mode options.
The old and familiar Advanced Boot Options

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How To Disable The F8 Key For Safe Mode

Once you’ve enabled the F8 key to boot into Safe Mode, you can, of course, disable it. And it’s almost exactly the same as enabling it.

Start Command Prompt as an Administrator and then type

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard

And then press the Enter key on your keyboard.

Again it would be a good idea to simply copy and paste the command.

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard displayed in Command Prompt
Type bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard and press Enter

Just as before when enabling the F8 key for Safe Mode, when you disable it, you’ll get a “The operation completed successfully” message.

Command Prompt window
F8 Safe Mode successfully disabled.
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Spy and a phishing hook. Text reads "How to scan your PC for malware".

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