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What is Android safe mode? How to turn it off

Android safe mode is a handy feature that allows users to detect and resolve device issues — from malfunctioning and incompatible apps to malware and viruses. Here’s everything you need to know about safe mode on Android and how it can improve your device security.

What is Android safe mode? How to turn it off

What is Android safe mode?

Android safe mode is a feature that helps users locate and solve device problems. Turning on safe mode means only the system’s core applications and services load and no third-party apps. Apps downloaded from Google Play or other sources won’t work while using your phone in safe mode.

Safe mode is particularly helpful if your phone starts misbehaving (e.g., running slow, restarting, freezing, or crashing). While it can be difficult to tell what’s causing your device to act this way, safe mode can point you in the right direction.

Since many third-party apps are set to run automatically in the background, a safe mode startup will show you whether faulty software is causing them. If the phone turns on and runs normally in safe mode, then you can be confident that a third-party app (one that didn’t come with the device) is causing the trouble.

How does Android safe mode work?

Here’s how Android safe mode works and how to use it to uncover the root cause of device issues:

  • Turn on safe mode. When you first notice your device acting strange, turn on safe mode to help identify the problem. Your phone could malfunction for various reasons (from malware to software glitches), and safe mode could point you in the right direction.
  • Check if the problem persists. Once your device is in safe mode, check if the problem goes away. If it does, one of your third-party apps is probably behind the malfunction. If the problem persists, something other than a third-party app may be the cause. In this case, you may want to try other Android troubleshooting solutions.
  • Turn off safe mode. Once you know a third-party app is causing the issue, you can exit safe mode to find the malfunctioning or malicious app.
  • Check apps one by one. This step may take some time, but it’ll help you get to the cause of the problem. After exiting safe mode, check and remove recent app downloads individually. You may need to restart your phone at each removal to check if the device issues have been fixed. After you’ve found the app that caused the problem, you can reinstall other apps you’ve removed.

Third-party apps could experience glitches for various reasons, such as software updates, conflicts with other apps, or viruses. If you’re dealing with a malicious app, here’s more on how to remove malware from Android.

How to turn on safe mode on an Android phone

Turning on safe mode on Android is easy. Follow these steps, keeping in mind that they may vary slightly depending on your device.

  • Step 1: Press and hold the power button to turn off your device.
  • Step 2: A pop-up menu will appear. Tap and hold “restart,” “reboot to safe mode,” or “power off,” depending on your device.
  • Step 3: Some devices may ask you to tap “OK” to restart in safe mode.

On some other models, like Samsung or HTC, you may need to use the power and volume keys to turn on a device in safe mode. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Press and hold the power button to turn off your device.
  • Step 2: A pop-up menu will appear. Tap and hold “restart,” “reboot to safe mode,” or “power off,” depending on your device.
  • Step 3: Some devices may ask you to tap “OK” to restart in safe mode.

How do you know if you are in safe mode?

The easiest way to tell if you’re in Android safe mode is by checking for the words “safe mode” at the bottom of your screen. Typically, they appear when you enable safe mode and remain until you restart your device.

Is Android safe mode similar to Windows or iOS safe modes?

Android, Windows, and iOS safe modes have similarities. Like on Android, enabling safe mode in Windows 11 and iOS boots your device without third-party apps. The apps you’ve downloaded and installed won’t work — only those that came with your device. If you’ve restarted your device and all third-party apps are grayed out, you’re in safe mode.

Enabling safe mode on Windows or iOS will also show a visual indicator in the bottom left or right corner of your screen. You may see the words “safe mode” or “safe boot,” depending on your device.

How to turn off safe mode on Android

  • Step 1: Press and hold the power key.
  • Step 2: From the pop-up menu, select “restart” or “reboot.”

Occasionally, Android devices may get stuck in safe mode. Typically, this issue is caused by a faulty button.

If your device gets stuck in safe mode, check your phone buttons one by one. You may need to remove your phone case and press each button individually. Sometimes, foreign objects (like dust, sand, or paper) get stuck in the buttons, causing your device to boot into safe mode.

If that happens, you may need to carefully clean your device to fix the faulty buttons — then you should be able to exit safe mode.

What if the problem persists in safe mode?

If your Android device malfunctions even in safe mode, back up your data and try doing an Android factory reset. If that doesn’t fix the problem, it’s best to take your device to the shop for repair or replacement.

Protect your device from future glitches by following these Android security tips.