Restoring the F8 Function During Boot

(For Geeks Only)

By Joe Callison
1 September, 2017

Welcome to zero-day for my new blog. I thought it might be fun to start a blog for the more advanced senior computer users interested in digging into the bowels of the Windows beast. I may also sprinkle in some opinions, reviews, rants, and even some Apple or Android nuggets from time-to-time. What you will not find are step-by-step tutorials (except in links) as they should not be needed for the intended readers.  

Let’s start this new experiment with something that we have been wanting to share with SENCOM members but did not know what forum would be appropriate, as it involves using the command prompt and system configuration utilities. Since Windows 8 was introduced, entering Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key repeatedly during boot-up has not been feasible because Microsoft wanted to speed up the boot process and did not want to purposely slow it down a few seconds to accept a key press. Instead, when you get to the lock screen or any screen that has the power button, you can hold the shift key and choose restart to get into the startup and repair options. Buried deep in the advanced options are the various safe mode selections that we have been familiar with in previous Windows versions. There are a couple of neat hacks you can use to restore the F8 functionality.

Restoring the F8 Function During Boot:
This requires at least one line of code in the command prompt (run as administrator) and some corresponding changes to the System Configuration boot tab settings. I just tested it with Windows 10 Version 1703 and it still works. I set up the one basic Safe Mode with the minimal boot configuration and when you boot you have a choice of the normal Windows 10 boot or booting in safe mode. If you let it timeout without pressing a key, it will boot normally. For instructions, see the following:

1.  Before version 1703, I had the white-on-blue menu set up with all of the safe modes like the article shows. It went away with the update and when I just put one safe mode back this week, it was the white-on-black text screen like Windows 7 and previous versions had because I had previously run the command for the other method in the link “return to accessing the classic menu with the F8 key” mentioned in the article to change the bootmenupolicy to legacy (link below). The F8 key still would not interrupt the boot process for my tablet, but after getting the boot menu from the other method, pressing the F8 key would take you to the complete list of boot options. Changing the bootmenupolicy back to standard made it the white on blue screen again, but there was no F8 key function to get the other options.

2.  Microsoft is trying to move us from command prompt to PowerShell, so the menu when you right-click the start icon or press Windows+X no longer lists command prompt in version 1703. It is easiest to type cmd in the search box and then right-click on the app in the results and choose “Run as administrator.” Some commands will work the same in PowerShell as in the command prompt but some like bcdedit do not. If PowerShell is new to you, type help at the prompt for some information on getting help to use it.

Posted by Joe Callison

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