Enable F8 key & Safe Mode in Windows 8

Windows 8 boots real fast, as a result, you may have found that the F8 key does not work. There is a reason for this. Microsoft has reduced the time-periods for F2 and F8 keys to almost near-nil intervals – less than 200 milliseconds if you want to know – as a result of which the chances of it detecting the F8 interrupt is extremely low and users do not get time to press F8 for invoke the boot menu and subsequently enter safe mode in Windows 8.

Safe Mode in Windows 8

While we know how to boot Windows in to safe mode using the msconfig tool, we have seen how to make Windows 8 show Advanced Boot Options and use it to boot into safe mode. We have also seen how we can display Startup Settings to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8.  In this post we will see how to enable the F8 key so that we can boot into Windows 8 Safe Mode, using this key – like we did in Windows 7 and earlier.

You will have to enable the legacy boot policy. Mind you, when you do this, Windows 8 will start a few seconds later. When you enable this policy on a dual-boot system, you will also be able to select the operating system you wish to boot into. You will no longer need to again follow these steps.

Windows 8 F8 key not working

To enable the F8 keep, so that we can use it to start Windows 8 in safe mode, open an elevated command prompt window. Type the following and hit Enter:

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

Windows 8 F8 key not working

You will see a message: The operation completed successfully.

You will find that the Windows 8 F8 key which was not working, is now working! You may have to restart your computer to get the setting to work.

If you wish to reverse the setting, type the following and hit Enter:

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard

Safe Mode in Windows 8

You will again see a message: The operation completed successfully. The settings will be restored back to Windows 8 defaults.

If you need to boot to safe mode or access the diagnostic & troubleshooting tools frequently, you may want to enable the F8 key; but as mentioned, your Windows 8 could start a few seconds slower and so you should be prepared to lose those few seconds.

Also read:

  1. Display Start up Settings & Boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8
  2. How to boot in Safe mode while dual booting Windows 8
  3. How to directly reboot in Safe Mode in Windows 8.
Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • DZ

    Access denied! What am i missing?

  • http://twitter.com/mr2man Scott McBurney

    make sure you run the command prompt as an administrator

  • aran

    This explains jack S***

  • Tim Clark

    Also, this held me up for a minute. The parentheses looking symbol on each end of default is {default} Parentheses with points – Holding Shift and the two keys next to the P key = { and }

  • jkld

    how do you open the window? this wasn’t explained?

  • ann

    If the bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy gives you the following output
    “The boot configuration data store could not be opened. The system cannot find the file specified”,follow the instructions from [1](the answer marked as the right one).

    If you do not want to document yourself reading the answer from [1], just type the following command:

    bcdedit /store c:BootBCD /set bootmenupolicy legacy

    Restart your computer, choose your Windows from Grub, imediately press F8 and it should work as it did for me. Good luck!

    [1]http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/bcdedit-the-system-cannot-find-the-file-specified/7135b90a-c6a4-4a31-b752-822029671075

    Explanations:

    -Boot Configuration Data (BCD) files provide a store
    that is used to describe boot applications and boot application
    settings. The objects and elements in the store effectively replace
    Boot.ini.

    -BCDEdit is a command-line tool for managing BCD
    stores. It can be used for a variety of purposes, including creating new
    stores, modifying existing stores, adding boot menu options, and so on.
    BCDEdit serves essentially the same purpose as Bootcfg.exe on earlier
    versions of Windows, but with two major improvements.
    Administrative privileges are required to use BCDEdit to modify BCD.

    -/set Sets an entry option value.

    -/store
    This option can be used with most BCDedit commands to specify the store
    to be used. If this option is not specified, then BCDEdit operates on
    the system store.
    So when you open cmd with the option “Run as adminstrator” you are in
    C:Windowssystem32
    and that is why system cannot find the file specified, so you must
    specigy it c:BootBCD.

    -bootmenupolicy [ Legacy | Standard ]
    Defines the type of boot menu the system will use. For Windows 8.1,
    Windows 8 and Windows RT the default is Standard. For Windows Server
    2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, the default is Legacy. When Legacy is
    selected, the Advanced options menu (F8) is available. When Standard is
    selected, the boot menu will appear only under certain conditions: for
    example, if there is a startup failure, if you are booting up from a
    repair disk or installation media, if you have configured multiple boot
    entries, or if you manually configured the computer to use Advanced
    startup. When Standard is selected, the F8 key is ignored during boot.
    Windows 8 PCs start up quickly so there isn’t enough time to press F8.
    For more information, see Windows Startup Settings (including safe
    mode).

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