There are a few ways your phone can get put into Safe Mode, and it’s not always obvious how to get it back out of it. This can be extremely frustrating, especially for casual users who aren’t as intimate with some of their phone’s features as hack-hardened Android fans.
Those of you imprisoned in Safe Mode, fear not! This guide will help you troubleshoot your problem and get back to using your phone in the way you’ve always known and loved.
Why Your Phone is in Safe Mode
Usually, your phone will put itself into Safe Mode if something really bad has gone down. Maybe an app seriously bugged out or a main system function went haywire. You may have even been attacked by malware of some kind.
Alternatively, you could have accidentally put your phone into Safe Mode yourself. Just like how it’s possible to butt-dial your boss the exact moment you start complaining about him, it’s also possible to butt-Safe-Mode your device. Nothing is 100% butt-proof.
Safe Mode in Android serves pretty much the same purpose as its analog in Windows, if you’re familiar with that. Safe Mode strips the operating system to its core functions, preventing you from running anything that didn’t come installed on your phone. It’s a tool designed for troubleshooting, but if you don’t have anything to troubleshoot, then it just prevents you from using the full capabilities of your device.
Let’s tackle these solutions from the most common to the least likely.
Restart Your Device
In most cases and for most users, this is the fix you’re looking for. Safe Mode generally isn’t supposed to stick around for multiple sessions, so give your phone a reboot and see if the problem persists. Hold down the power button, tap Power Off, and let your phone enjoy sweet oblivion for five seconds before starting it back up.
You should be good to go after this. If not, it’s time to move on to the next one:
Try the Notifications panel
This doesn’t hold true for all smartphones, but some devices will have a Safe Mode notification in the notifications tray. Swipe down once or twice to locate the Exit Safe Mode option and tap it.
No dice? All right, let’s start using the hardware.
Power up with Volume Down
This method didn’t really seem to work for me, but a lot of users have reported being able to escape endless Safe Modes by turning off their device and then turn it back on by holding down the Power button and the Volume Down button at the same time. Give it a shot.
Apparently, this might even be the source of your problem rather than the solution. If your device has a broken volume key, then your phone may think you’re holding down one of the volume buttons when you reboot even when you aren’t. For some devices, this would cause the phone to boot into Safe Mode every time. Unless you’re an avid phone disassembler, you’ll probably need to return your device to your service provider for fixing or visit a local repair shop.
Take out the battery
This solution will only be feasible if your phone has a removeable battery, but a lot of Samsung Galaxy S4 users have had success getting out of Safe Mode with this.
Simply power down your device, remove the back of your phone, and take the battery out. You should wait about a minute to let all the battery magic drain out of your phone before replacing the battery.
If you don’t believe in battery magic, you can pretend this is to let the capacitors completely discharge, or whatever.
Put the battery back in and turn the device back on. Bingo.
Remove some apps
If no aforementioned ‘bingo’ has been achieved, then you’ve probably got an app issue. One of your apps is producing an error, and your phone is booting in safe mode to keep the app from wreaking havoc on your device. Time to find the culprit and kill it with fire.
Although you can’t run apps in Safe Mode, you can uninstall them. Access Settings > Apps to get a list of your downloaded apps. Tap an app to select it, then tap Uninstall to remove it.
The app that’s forcing your phone into Safe Mode is most likely one that you downloaded recently, so start with your most recent apps and work your way back. Uninstall a suspect app, then reboot your phone. If it still boots in Safe Mode, move on to the next app on the list.
It’s tedious, but the alternative is quite a bit more extreme.
What alternative, you ask?
Factory Reset your device
This is the nuclear option of smartphone troubleshooting. You probably want to try absolutely everything else before resorting to this, as you will lose all internal data stored on the device.
Performing a Factory Reset will return your device to its original settings. If all else fails, this is a surefire way to get your phone back to normal, but it will almost be like getting the phone new again. You’ll have to reinstall all your apps, and unless your pictures and data are backed up, you will lose them.
Once you’ve taken a deep breath and your hands have stopped shaking, go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Factory data reset. A notification will pop up reminding you of the consequences of this action and subtly implying that you may have lost your mind. Confirm your intent by tapping “Reset Phone” or “Erase Everything.”
Sit back and wait while a part of you dies. Once your device comes back online, you’ll need to set it up all over again, but Safe Mode will finally be gone.
These are our best methods for getting out of Safe Mode. For the vast majority of users, this is as simple as turning the device off and back on again. For others, however, Safe Mode can become a frustrating ordeal.
Have you gotten trapped in the Safe Mode loop? Did you figure out what was going wrong? What method did you use to escape? Let us know in the comments below!