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How to enter safe mode on Android devices

Safe mode can help you clean up issues on your Android Phone, here's how to set it up.
By
February 2, 2023

App crashes happen, and they’re usually not a big deal. However, if you have them happening more than most people, it may signify a more significant problem. If you’re trying to share critical documents with your team or process a vital payment, the last thing you want is a crash. Here’s how to enter safe mode on an Android device and hopefully find the source of your issue.

See also: Android OS problems and how to fix them

We’ll take you through what safe mode is and how to activate it. We have a separate page on how to turn safe mode off again, but we have a quick method tucked away here at the end. Let’s get to it.

What is safe mode for Android?

Restarting an Android device

Safe mode is the easiest way to diagnose trouble on your Android phone or tablet because it halts third-party apps. If you boot in safe mode and you notice a significant jump in performance, there’s a good chance that one of your third-party apps is to blame.

Before you jump in and reboot to safe mode, you may want to do some research and find out if other users have the same issue. Your research can potentially save you some time and a headache, as you can delete the offending app without testing each app one by one. Of course, once you reboot out of safe mode, you may have to test each of your third-party apps individually to find the culprit.

If safe mode does not yield a performance boost, the issue may be with your phone itself, and it is time to get some outside assistance.

See also: Wi-Fi not working? Here are some possible fixes

Why might you enter safe mode?

If you’re trying to use an app or widget that just keeps crashing, it might be time to try safe mode. As mentioned above, it disables third-party apps to help you diagnose your problem. This won’t magically fix your problem, but it can help you to rule out most hardware issues along the way. Here are some of the main reasons you might want to boot into Android safe mode:

  • Broken widgets: Android 12 and 13 are all about making the most of widgets, but some developers are further along than others. If you’re having an issue where certain information, or an entire widget, won’t display, it might be time to test the root cause.
  • App crashes: This goes hand in hand with broken widgets, but apps can break, too. Sometimes, you might be running into crashes from background apps, and safe mode can help you figure out which apps are causing the biggest headaches.
  • Sluggish performance: Performance issues are the root of all Android evils, and they can be a result of the first two problems combined. If your phone has to work harder to manage its apps, it may slow down in your day-to-day usage, too.

How do you enter safe mode?

OnePlus 10 Pro review revisited in hand showing notification shade
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If you’ve decided that it’s time to try safe mode, you might be worried that it’s a complicated process. The truth is, it couldn’t be easier if we tried. As long as your Android device is running on version 6.0 or newer, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the power button until power options appear.
  2. Tap and hold Power Off.
  3. Hold until you see Reboot to safe mode, and then tap on the prompt.

The exact wording of the prompt may vary by manufacturer, but the process should be the same. Once you confirm to reboot in safe mode, wait until your phone restarts. You should now see apps and widgets grayed out, and you will only have access to the first-party features.

See also: Android 13 update: When is it coming to your phone?

Enter safe mode with device buttons

If you’re having issues with a laggy screen, you can also reboot in safe mode using the hard buttons on your phone. It’s just as easy to do, and you’ll have to follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the power button, then choose Power Off.
  2. Turn your phone back on with the power button, and hold the power button until you see an animated logo appear.
  3. Hold the Volume Down button once you see the animated logo appear.
  4. Continue holding Volume Down until your device boots.

How can you exit safe mode?

OnePlus Nord 2 Pac Man edition notification shade with arcade colors
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Once you wrap up your safe mode adventure, it’s time to fix your phone. The first thing you’ll want to do is reboot out of safe mode. We’ve linked our guide above, but the easiest way to escape safe mode is to restart your phone. It should reboot as usual, so you can feel free to use your favorite restart method.

Some Android skins also pack an even faster way to get out of safe mode. You may find a notification in the top menu along the lines of “Safe mode is on — Tap here to turn safe mode off.” Tap that notification, and your phone will restart out of safe mode.

There you go, a quick primer on how to enter safe mode on an Android phone or tablet. Hopefully, it’s fixed your issues, or it may be time to reach out to a professional.