Fix F8 does not load safe mode on your computer

Martin Brinkmann
May 4, 2008
Updated • Oct 1, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

I ran into an unexpected problem today and would like to share in this blog post how I fixed it.

You know that you can press F8 during start of the Windows operating system to get a troubleshooting menu with options to start Windows in Safe Mode or restoring the last known good configuration of the operating system.

My problem was that I could not get into the F8 menu no matter what I did. It simply would start Windows right away as if the keyboard was not working at all.

Note that this was prior to Windows 8 which changed significantly how you can enter the F8 menu due to it starting up significantly faster than previous versions of Windows.


The keyboard was working however because I was able to use it to enter the BIOS and change the BIOS configuration.

And then I remembered that it could have something to do with the connection of the keyboard. It was an USB keyboard.

I discovered two solutions that helped. The first was to go into the BIOS and enable USB Keyboard Support. This made it possible to press F8 and get into the menu that allowed me to boot into safe mode.

The other solution was to simply connect an old PS2 keyboard to the computer and use that for the time and remove it later on. I guess the problem is that Windows did not load the correct USB drivers so that hitting F8 at the right time did nothing because the keyboard was not working properly at that time.

The first solution is obviously better than the second as you don't have to switch between two different keyboards whenever you need to enter troubleshooting mode. But, if for some reason, enabling USB keyboard support does not work for you, you may want to keep a PS2 keyboard in reach that you can then connect to the machine to make F8 work again.

Fix F8 does not load safe mode on your computer
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Fix F8 does not load safe mode on your computer
Find out how to fix Windows not accepting F8 during boot to enter Safe Mode,

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  1. cobra934 said on May 4, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    However, if you can at least get into Windows, you can use the MSCONGIF utility to help you out.

    Click on Start, then Run. In the Run dialog box type “msconfig” and press enter to start the MSCONFIG utility.
    MSCONFIG offers a variety of options and settings you can use to selectively enable or disable certain programs or services to try and troubleshoot and narrow down problems you might be having. You can view the contents of the System.ini, Win.ini and Boot.ini files and check or uncheck the items you want to start. You can also uncheck services or programs that startup when Windows loads if you don’t want them to start.

    For our purposes, we just want to use MSCONFIG to boot into SafeMode. If you click on the Boot.ini tab you will see some checkboxes at the bottom under Boot Options. Click the checkbox next to /SAFEBOOT and select Minimal (if you really need network access while you are in SafeMode you can select Network instead).

    After you make the changes the computer will need to be rebooted for the changes to take effect. The computer will boot into SafeMode and allow you to do what you need. Once you have completed the actions or tasks you needed to use SafeMode for, you need to reopen MSCONFIG following the instructions above and uncheck the /SAFEMODE box under Boot Options so that the computer will boot into normal Windows mode the next time you start it up.

    That’s all!

    1. silly said on February 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Its really silly and foolish that many have recommended run->msconfig option even in ms forums. Come on the reason why people want to go into safe mode is mostly because normal mode is not working .. if i am able to get start menu, i am already in windows ! Come on common sense people.

    2. Common Sense said on October 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks cobra934 – we were unable to get into Safe Mode, and it had nothing to do with our keyboard. This did the trick! (Re: silly: If you can’t get into Windows, Safe Mode won’t help, since it’s a version of the operating system. Instead, you should run a Repair from the OS Installation disc on boot.)

  2. Dante said on May 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve found all versions of Windows (including Vista) to be a littly nutty at time when it comes to a USB keyboard. This is the reason I never bought a USB keyboard. USB mouse is ok. But keyboards causes hiccups once in a while.

  3. Pavan Kumar said on May 5, 2008 at 3:00 am

    But, if so is the problem, how could you get into bios with the same usb keyboard???

  4. Dante said on May 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    to Kumar: I don’t think the BIOS is the problem. It’s Windows that is the problem.

  5. BWX said on May 21, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Yeah I had the same problem after going from a regular old Logitech keyboard to a new Logitech USB keyboard..

    I could not get into the BIOS, (or hit F8 for safe mode)- I had to just hook up my old Logitech PS2 KB to hit the “Delete” key to get into the BIOS. I have an ASUS A8N-E mobo, but I never noticed any USB keyboard support options. I do have “legacy USB support option, but that doesn’t seem to work for this problem. Seems there would be a way to load the USB drivers first, before Windows starts or something. Anyway, here’s a little time saver- no need to disconnect the USB KB, just add the PS2 KB, then disconnect it when done changing options in BIOS, etc. It is annoying though.. and it should work with a USB keyboard, I don;t see why the mobo just doesn’t recognize the fact that you have a USB KB and work from that as if it were a PS2 KB, especially now, w/ so many USB KBs out there.

  6. BWX said on May 21, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Hey I just tested this again, and now it works.. I CAN hit “DELETE” during boot w/ my USB KB and get into the BIOS. I DID turn on that “Legacy USB support” option on in the BIOS last time I was in there though, that might have done it.

    Also It might have been that before I just shutdown to test this, I went into device manager, went to the “Keyboards”- there was an “HID keyboard device” listing in there. I actually right-clicked and chose update driver, and it updated the driver. Usually anything like that just doesn’t update the driver automatically like that. Anyway. That worked, but not sure if I can get into safe mode via F8 with a well timed key-press or not. Strange, I know I couldn’t before… but now it seems to work, at least to get into the BIOS, and I imagine that if that works, getting into safe mode w/ F8 will work too.

    EDIT- I forgot- I am using Windows XP pro SP2 all updated..

  7. sameer said on December 16, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    in may pc when i am pressing f8 key it is not getting safemode i tryed all methods but not getting safemode
    Can u Kindly Resolve may problem

  8. BWX said on December 17, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Read posts above by “cobra934” —
    Or get a “non-USB” keyboard and stick it in the keyboard port just when starting and press F8 after the BIOS screen during startup.

  9. Anonymous said on February 11, 2009 at 10:30 am

    If you have a key labeled “F-Lock” on your keyboard, press that key then afterward the F8 key will be properly recognized

  10. Jeevan said on May 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for the tip guys. I am using a wireless kb and f8 wouldn’t work. Ill try these Methods.

  11. beretholdra said on January 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I shut off my computer and now it will not reboot.
    The only signs of life are a slight flicker of light in the lights on the upper right of keyboard. F8 does not work (I have a USB keyboard and no connection for a PS2 one). Any thoughts or ideas will be appeciated as the person who normally takes care of computer is out of town at a funeral.

  12. Anonymous said on April 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Indirectly related to the original post — I have an ASUS A8N mobo, and every time I hit F8, all I got was a list of drive options from which to boot (i.e. floppy, DVD, HDD, etc.) It was extremely frustrating. Nothing I tried worked. I figured something had to be wrong with my system. But then I read a post on another help site that provided the solution: immediately after selecting the bootable hard drive from the menu that appears after first clicking F8, click F8 again. And VOILA! It worked.

  13. Anonymous said on April 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Update to previous post: A couple of things. 1. I’m using a PS/2 keyboard. 2. I read on another site that sometimes pressing F5 works. I started pressing F5 after the BIOS screen first appeared, and it took me directly to the screen with the SAFE MODE options.

  14. sam said on May 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Hi guys,
    My problem I think is different as I can’t get my computer to get past the windows opening symbol, so I can’t use the options stated above to make my computer log into safe mode next time.
    I can get onto the windows boot manager by pressing f8 but the only option is window 7, there is no option for safe mode.
    Can you help?

  15. dan_galag said on October 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

    tnx anonymous !! pressing f8 > then chosing the boot device > again immedietly pressing the f8 worked for me : ) tnx again buddy (hug)

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