Debugging Windows 10 at Startup


It’s almost impossible to be able to hit F8 during Windows 10’s start up. The “official” way to get into the boot menu is to let Windows 10 start and get to the login screen, hold the shift key and click “Restart”. The problem with this is, what if you can’t get to the login screen?

Many times I’ve had a simple issue that could be fixed in Safe Mode or using the basic graphics mode available from the boot menu. I’ve found a method that makes this debugging easy and gives you plenty of time to be able to press F8 if you need to on boot, without taking too much time away from the actual boot. It’s a user configurable timeout too, so you can set it to what you want.

Of course before following any of these instructions, you should be aware of my standard disclaimer.

Firstly, enable the Legacy Bootloader, by opening an administrative command prompt.

bcdedit /set "{current}" bootmenupolicy legacy

This will enable the old style operating system selector from Windows 7. Next you set it to display the menu with the following command.

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes

Finally you control how long the timeout is. The default 30 seconds is quite a long time to wait if you don’t press any key, so I use the timeout of 5 seconds, which gives me ample time if I need to get into the advanced boot options menu, but it doesn’t slow down the boot that much if I don’t.

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} timeout 5

That’s it! If you ever need to debug a simple start up issue, you don’t have to find your rescue CD, or reset during boot to launch “startup repair”. It’s saved my skin so many times already 🙂