What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

At one point or another, you may have encountered your phone suddenly coming out of your bag or pocket with the words “Safe Mode” on the screen.

 What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

This may scare a first time user, but fear not. As the mode says, this current state is pretty safe for your phone. In fact, it is in a state that leaves it in its most natural state. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about what Safe Mode is.

What Is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode 168x300 What is Safe Mode and How to Use ItIf you’ve used a PC before, at one point or another, you might have had to boot into its safe mode when the power was suddenly cut or an error caused it to suddenly reboot. In the PC’s safe mode, you find that the resolution has dropped, some settings are off, and none of your 3rd party applications are working. Safe Mode in a PC is a state where the PC goes back to exactly how it was before any new hardware and drivers were installed. It is in a state where only the default system apps work.

The premise of Safe Mode in a mobile device is actually exactly the same as on a desktop PC.

The mode disables any user downloaded applications and even disables some updates to system and pre-installed apps. It is a mode where only apps that you could find in the smartphone after a factory reset would work. Settings are restored to their default settings, and some networking is limited. Even wallpapers are restored to their default ones in case you were using some live wallpapers.

What’s It For?

Much like personal computers, the apps installed in a smartphone are not perfect. Some of them may include viruses, some of them may be coded improperly, some may cause memory leaks, while some may end up crashing the phone or tablet, and some may even render the device completely useless during boot. In cases like this, using the device and removing the cause of the problem is very difficult. Sometimes it is even downright impossible.

The idea behind Safe Mode is to become a diagnostic state for this kind of situation. It disables all user changed settings, and disables all user downloaded apps to make sure that you can boot your phone and manage the device properly. At this time, you can uninstall any faulty apps that you recently installed or updated.

Safe Mode is also a good indicator if something is wrong in the system level of your device. If you boot into safe mode and problems that you encountered during normal operation still persists, then you are likely looking at a very faulty ROM, or some important system files were accidentally moved or deleted. This is a great indicator that you should probably consider reinstalling the ROM of your phone. If after reinstallation the issue persists, you may be looking at a faulty hardware problem.

How do I boot into Safe Mode?

Booting into Safe Mode may happen automatically when your phone restarts due to a hardware or software fault. In cases where the Android device does not boot into Safe Mode automatically, you can easily boot it into Safe Mode manually.

Booting into Safe Mode is different depending on your device. Some may use a combination of hardware keys, while some may require that you access Safe Mode through some software options. The hardware specifications and the OEM that built your device will indicate the method for booting into Safe Mode.

Here are some of the basic ways to enter Safe Mode. Note that only one or two of these methods may actually boot your device into Safe Mode. You can experiment with your device which combination will work, but I will also list known OEMs that use a particular method.

Method One: The Power Menu

Nexus Safe Mode What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. Press and hold the Power Key
  2. When  the power options pop up, press and hold “Power Off”
  3. A popup menu should appear talking about Safe Mode
  4. Tap OK
  5. The phone will reboot automatically
  6. After booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  7. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known devices: All Nexus Phones, Some Sony Xperia Phones, Some Motorola devices

Method Two: The Menu Key

Menu Key What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, press and hold the menu key
  4. In some cases, you might need to mash the menu key instead
  5. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  6. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Some Samsung Phones, LG Phones with Menu keys, HTC Phones with Menu keys but no Optical trackballs or joysticks

Method Three: The Volume Down Key

Volume Down Key What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, press and hold the Volume Down key
  4. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  5. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Motorola Devices, Some Tablets, Some Samsung devices, Some HTC devices

Method Four: The Volume Up and Down Combo

Volume Up and Down What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, press and hold both the Volume Up and the Volume Down key
  4. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  5. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Motorola Xoom, Full Touch Tablets

Method Five: The Power-Menu Combo

Xperia Safe Mode What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, press and hold the Power button and Menu key together
  4. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  5. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Some Sony Xperia phones

Method Six: The Volume-Home Combo

HTC Safe Mode What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off,  Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, press and hold either the up or down volume keys in combination with the central face key, which is usually the Home key or the Track Pad or the Joystick.
  4. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  5. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Some HTC devices

Method Seven: The OK button

OK Button What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, slide out the QWERTY keyboard
  2. Press and Hold the power key
  3. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  4. When the splash screen appears, press and hold the OK button on the QWERTY keyboard
  5. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  6. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Phones with slide out QWERTY keyboards

Method Eight: The Zoom Slider

Zoom Slider What is Safe Mode and How to Use It

  1. With the device turned off, Press and Hold the power key
  2. As the device boots, wait for the splash screen
  3. When the splash screen appears, slide the Zoom slider all the way to minus and hold it there
  4. After completely booting, check the lower left corner of the display
  5. The words “Safe Mode” should be there.

Known Devices: Samsung Galaxy Camera

Keep Safe!

Safe Mode is integrated into the basic code of Android, so regardless of which manufacturer you have, there is bound to be a way to get to this diagnostic mode. In the event the basic stuff doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to contact your manufacturer or your local device forum for some tips on how to launch your particular device into Safe Mode.

  • William Dove

    There’s numerous ways to turn safe mode on the Motorola Xoom, but how do you turn it off?!!!!!