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What Is Safe Mode in Windows 8.1?

Safe Mode still exists in Windows 8.1, but it isn’t used as much as it once was. Safe Mode used to be the gateway into the Windows inner workings: In earlier versions of Windows, if something went wrong, you booted into a very limited version of Windows — one that let you diagnose problems and install minimalist drivers, but not much more.

Microsoft really has improved things to the point where Safe Mode isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. Running a Refresh, in particular, will do just about everything people used to do in Safe Mode but without the hands-on nitty-gritty.

If you still want to get into Safe Mode, hover your mouse in the upper-right corner or swipe from the right, or type Windows key+C, choose Settings, and then Change PC Settings. Choose Update & Recovery and then Recovery, and under Advanced Startup, choose Restart Now.

When the blue Choose an Option screen appears, choose Troubleshoot→Advanced Options→Startup Settings. Click Restart, and you will see an Advanced Boot Options screen. Type the number for Safe Mode (or Safe Mode with Networking or Safe Mode with Command Prompt). You get logged in to Windows in Safe Mode using the built-in Administrator account.

Yes, it’s that complicated. Microsoft doesn’t really want you to use Safe Mode, unless you know what you’re doing, and you’re willing to bend over backwards to do it.

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