Fully Shut Down or Enter Safe Mode in Windows 8.1


Windows 8/8.1 introduced a number of changes compared to previous versions, among them the much-maligned tiles. Less widely known is that Windows 8.1’s mobile-oriented nature results in its tendency to go into standby or hibernate modes rather than fully shutting down. This can prevent access to a desktop or laptop’s BIOS settings or Safe Mode.


There is a little-known but very quick and easy method to force a full shutdown or restart, however. A post on Reddit by user b1jan describes this method for shutdowns, but the same can be used for restarts as user keiichi969 mentions.


  1. From a fully started Windows 8.1, shift-click the Shutdown or Restart button
  2. When you start the computer again, you will now be able to enter the BIOS settings by pressing the appropriate key, usually F2, F12, Esc, or Del. Alternative, if you shift-clicked Restart, the troubleshooting menu (Windows 8.1’s equivalent of the Safe Mode boot menu) appears.


Windows 8.1 no longer offers the familiar “Press F8 to enter Safe Mode” option. If the computer won’t boot into Windows at all, it may or may not be possible to press Shift-F8 to reach the troubleshooting options. It is also possible to create a recovery drive on a USB stick but this would have to be done before a problem arises.