If the computer only has one operating system installed, safe mode can be accessed by pressing and holding the F8 key as the computer starts. If multiple operating systems are installed, the F8 key should be pressed when the desired operating system is highlighted. For Macs, safe mode is accessed by pressing and holding the shift key immediately after the startup sound.
In Windows operating systems, there are different safe mode options available on the "Advanced Boot Options" screen that allows users to either boot into safe mode with command prompt or with networking. When the computer is in safe mode, the words "Safe Mode" appear at the corner of the display unit. To exit safe mode, simply start the computer normally.
Safe mode is typically used as a troubleshooting option because it starts Windows with only core services and drivers. Windows operation is limited to basic functions in safe mode. If there are programs and drivers that are preventing Windows from starting properly, the basic device drivers and default settings can be eliminated as probable causes by going into safe mode. If a recently installed driver, device or program is preventing Windows from functioning properly, the program can be removed in safe mode.