Safe Mode On Surface

Have you tried to get your Surface into Safe Mode only to find out that it’s harder than you think?

With Windows 7, all you had to do is hit F8 at boot and it would give you the option to enter Safe Mode but as you probably found out, that doesn’t work on the Surface.

So how can you do it?

Read on, today I’ll tell you all you need to know about Safe Mode on your Surface device.

Safe Mode On Surface: What is Safe Mode?

If you don’t know about Safe Mode, it’s a special mode of operation built into Windows that disables any drivers, devices, and applications that “could go wrong” and only loads a minimal set of what’s needed to run the computer.

This makes it very handy to facilitate troubleshooting or malware recovery if you’re having problems getting your Surface started normally.

Safe Mode On Surface: Accessing Safe Mode

In the past, with Windows 7, it was much easier (and more direct) to get into safe mode. With Windows 8.1 however, you first have to access the Advanced Start screen then navigate a series of menus to get into Safe Mode.

There are multiple ways to access the Advanced Start screen but, on a Surface the most reliable (although not necessarily quickest) is to do the following:

  • Bring up the Search charm
  • Search for Change advanced startup options
  • Select Change advanced startup options from the results
  • Tap Restart Now from under the Advanced Startup section

Your Surface will restart and boot into the Advanced Startup screen.

I advocate this method because there’s no guarantee you’ll have a keyboard with you. However, if you do happen to have a keyboard attached, it’s much easier to get to the advanced boot screen. All you have to do is hold down the shift key while you tap the restart option from your Start Screen (under the Power icon). If you do that, it will take you straight to the Advanced Start screen.

In either case, once you’re at the Advanced Startup screen, you will need to follow the steps outlined in the infographic below to actually get into Safe Mode.

(CLICK FOR FULL SIZE VERSION)

Safe Mode On Surface: Safe Mode and Bitlocker

If you have Bitlocker encryption turned on for your system drive, you’ll get a prompt for the Bitlocker key once you finish the steps in the infographic flowchart to boot into Safe Mode.

In order to get past this and into Safe Mode, you’ll be prompted to enter your recovery key. You can find out more about how to do that at this web page: Microsoft Recovery Key FAQ

Safe Mode On Surface: Add Safe Mode to Startup

Since you’re probably not going to need to get into Safe Mode too often, the steps above are a pain but not unbearable. However, if you would like to be able to get into safe mode easily without navigating a series of menus, you can always add a “Safe Mode” option at startup.

This has the advantage of being relatively quick and easy to get into Safe Mode on your Surface if you should need to but, it comes at the cost of slowing down your Surface at startup.

Also, this method is not recommended if you’re using Bitlocker encryption on your Surface because you will need to enter your encryption key to start your Surface in Safe Mode.

The method I outline below will add a screen to the start sequence giving you the choice to either start Windows Normally or start in Safe Mode. If you don’t make a choice, it will start normally after a 30 second delay.

  • Attach a keyboard to your Surface (it’s just easier this way)
  • Press the WIN + X keys at the same time or tap and hold (right-click) on the Start button to open the Power User Menu
  • Select Command Prompt (Admin). This will open what’s called an elevated command prompt
  • Click Yes button if the User Account Control message prompts you
  • In the elevated command prompt, type the following command (including the quotes): bcdedit /copy {current} /d “Safe Mode” and press Enter
  • Press WIN + R, and type Msconfig in the Run dialog then tap or click the OK button and the System Configuration utility window should appear

  • From there, go to the Boot tab and select Safe Mode (C:\Windows)
  • Check the Safe boot checkbox then check the Network box

  • Finally click the OK button
  • If you have Bitlocker enabled, you’ll get a warning like the one below

  • Click Yes to proceed

Once you’ve finished this procedure, you’ll start seeing a blue selection menu when you restart your Surface asking you to boot into Windows 8.1 or Safe Mode. There will be a 30 second timer and when it reaches 0, assuming you followed along correctly, it will boot into Windows 8.1 normally.

Safe Mode On Surface: Remove Safe Mode from Startup

If you would like to remove the Safe Mode from the Windows Boot Manager, all you have to do is go back into the Microsoft Configuration (msconfig) utility and delete the Safe Mode entry from under the Boot tab.

Knowing how to get into Safe Mode is one of those things that you don’t need often but, if you do, you won’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do it while your Surface is (likely) broken or having problems.

So, I would bookmark this article and keep it handy, just in case.

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Troubleshooting Miracast on Surface Tablets

If you have a Surface tablet (except for the Surface RT), one of the cooler features it offers is built-in support for the Miracast protocol. If you don’t know about Miracast, it basically lets you send video and audio to a compatible TV or projector wirelessly.

It’s awesome when it works but, what about when it doesn’t?

With that in mind, I’m going to cover some advice for troubleshooting Miracast on Surface tablets. Continue reading Troubleshooting Miracast on Surface Tablets

Issues With the Clock on Surface Tablets

In this article, we’re going to discuss the clock on your Surface and how to make sure that your clock is accurate as possible.

So, why should you care if the clock on your Surface is off by a couple of minutes?

I’ll bet every clock you own is different from each other by a minute or two, right?

Well, the time on your stove or microwave isn’t used by certain internet security protocols (such as Surface is. As a result, you may not be able to login or connect to certain network resources (especially in an enterprise environment). Continue reading Issues With the Clock on Surface Tablets

Fix Windows Store Problems on Your Surface

In this article, I’m going to cover how to fix Windows Store problems on your Surface.

Windows Store problems usually result in you either not being able to connect to the store or not being able to download/install the applications.

If that sounds like the issues you’re having then this article should be a great help. Continue reading Fix Windows Store Problems on Your Surface

Free Antivirus for Surface Pro – 2015 Guide


MAY 4TH, 2015 UPDATE: Due to the discovery that the makers of 360 Internet Security gamed test results from multiple security testing labs, I updated this guide to remove the recommendation for their product that appeared in the originally published version.

At some point in the near future, I’ll make a new recommendation to replace the one for 360 Internet Security.


About a year ago Joanna did an article on whether or not you need antivirus software on your Surface.

The article still holds up and, if you have a Surface Pro (1, 2, 3, or soon 4), we still recommend that you get some anti-virus software other than Windows Defender. It’s not that Defender doesn’t offer any protection, it’s just that it’s not as good as some other antivirus for Surface.

The question then becomes, which one should you get? Well, that’s where this article comes in.  Continue reading Free Antivirus for Surface Pro – 2015 Guide

Turn off the Screen on Surface Tablets

Have you ever needed to be able to turn off the screen on your Surface Pro 3 but not have it sleep or hibernate?

It could be the case that you’re trying to Chromecast Netflix to your big screen in a dark room and don’t want the glare from the Surface screen distracting you. Another possibility is that you just want to be able to quickly turn off the screen when someone is nosy and looking at your screen over your shoulder.

Continue reading Turn off the Screen on Surface Tablets

Internet Explorer Always Opens in Desktop Mode

Has this happened to you? You are using your Surface as a tablet and you tap on Internet Explorer from the Start Menu but, instead of opening IE in Modern (Metro) mode, it takes you to the desktop version.

Now, the desktop version of Internet Explorer is a decent browser but it kind of sucks for touch. So, what happened and what can you do about it? Continue reading Internet Explorer Always Opens in Desktop Mode

Startup Programs on Surface Pro 3

If your Surface is performing slower than it used to, especially at start up, it may be because you have a lot of startup programs that you don’t need, or even want, running in the background when you start your Surface and/or log into it.

Sadly, with Windows 8.1, it can be bit troublesome to figure out where all of your startup programs are being called from. This is because there are several locations in the registry and the (somewhat hidden) startup folder that you might need to search through to find them all.

Fortunately, there is a free program you can run on your SP3 (or SP/2) to find and control all of the startup programs locations. Continue reading Startup Programs on Surface Pro 3

High CPU Usage Could be a Runaway Process

If your Surface is acting slow or getting hot when you’re not doing anything intensive, it could be due to a runaway process.

A runaway process is a process that is consuming increasing amounts of CPU, which in turn, causes your Surface to have fewer resources available for other (critical) processes. Worse yet, the runaway process can also cause your battery life to be impacted, see post Why My Surface Does Not Sleep. Continue reading High CPU Usage Could be a Runaway Process