Gregory from Summerville, SC is confused about something that seems to be missing from the new versions of Windows.  He writes:  “Does 8.1 have a safe mode? If so, how do I start a laptop with 8.1 in the safe mode? I have a virus on it and it will not let Norton 360 scan for it. Therefore I think starting my computer in the safe mode would solve the problem and let Norton scan for it. Do you have another suggestion?”

Hi, Gregory.  Thanks for the great question!  I’m sure that other readers have struggled with this issue as well.

First off, scanning your computer while in safe mode is a great idea.  The only other suggestion that I would have about that issue would be to take it to your friendly neighborhood computer geek just in case what’s wrong with your computer isn’t actually a virus, but rather a hijack or something else more malicious that might require something more than a standard virus scan to take care of.

As far as your other question goes, yes, Windows 8.1 does have a safe mode, but accessing it is a little trickier than in previous version.  You probably remember, up until now, all you had to do was press F8 repeatedly while your computer was booting up in order to access safe mode.  The possible difficulty here is that Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 is that they tend to boot MUCH faster than previous versions of Windows.  That’s not to say that the F8 (or shift+F8) won’t work, only that it may not.  It’s worth a try, though, especially if you can’t boot your machine.

If you can boot your machine, but still need to get into safe mode, you can do that from MSCONFIG.  This is your system configuration tool.  This can be accessed by hitting the Windows key + R on your keyboard and typing MSCONFIG.  Once your configuration tool opens, go to the BOOT tab, and click the box that says SAFE BOOT.

When you click okay, you’ll get the options of restarting immediately or exiting without restarting.


If you have more work to do, you can exit without restarting.  BEAR IN MIND THAT AS LONG AS THAT BOX REMAINS CHECKED, YOUR COMPUTER WILL ALWAYS BOOT INTO SAFE MODE.  So eventually, if you just want to start normally again, you’ll have to repeat this procedure and uncheck the box.

Once you restart, you’ll want to choose the TROUBLESHOOT option.


Next, you’ll want to choose ADVANCED OPTIONS.


Choose one of the safe mode options, click RESTART and you’re good to go!

Personally, I wish that Microsoft had included a reliable way to boot your machine into safe mode without accessing Windows, because most times that I have had to do this, I couldn’t access Windows for some reason.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer