How to fix black screen using safe mode on Windows 10

In the case that there’s a software-related issue, and you don’t have access to the desktop, you will need to use “Advanced startup” on your computer to boot in safe mode to troubleshoot and fix the black screen problem.

Accessing Advanced startup using three-fail boot method

To launch the Advanced startup settings, use these steps:

  1. Start your device.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears on your screen, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Windows 10 boot logo

    Windows 10 boot logo

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps No. 1 and 2 two more times.

After the third interruption, Windows 10 will open into the Advanced Startup environment, and then you can continue with the steps below to boot in safe mode.

Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media

Alternatively, you can use a USB installation media to get to the Advanced startup settings environment using these steps:

  1. Start your computer using a USB installation media.

    • Quick tip: If your device isn’t starting from the USB flash drive, you’ll need to change the motherboard’s BIOS settings to make sure it can boot from USB. Usually, you can access the BIOS by powering up your device and pressing one of the functions, Delete, or ESC keys, but make sure to check your manufacturer’s support website for more specific details.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Click the Repair your computer link in the bottom-left corner.

    Windows 10 Setup

    Windows 10 Setup

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, continue with the instructions to access safe mode on Windows 10.

Booting in safe mode

To boot Windows 10 in safe mode while in Advanced startup, use these steps:

  1. Click the Troubleshoot option.
  2. Click the Advanced options button.
  3. Click the Startup Settings option.

    Advanced Startup settings

    Advanced Startup settings

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Click the Restart button.

    Startup settings restart option

    Startup settings restart option

    Source: Windows Central

  5. While in the “Startup Settings,” press the 5 or F5 key to select the Safe Mode with Networking option.

    Enable Safe mode with Networking

    Enable Safe mode with Networking

    Source: Windows Central

After your device is in safe mode, there are several troubleshooting steps that can help you to fix the black screen problem, such as reinstalling the graphics driver, removing buggy updates, changing system settings, and more (as shown below).

Perform clean boot

When your device starts normally, Windows 10 loads many services, drivers, and applications, which remain running in the background, if one or more them is causing issues, it’s possible that you will come across a black screen.

Using a clean boot allows you to instruct Windows 10 to start only with a minimal set of services, drivers, and apps, which can help you to figure out if something running in the background is the cause of the screen going completely black.

A clean boot is similar to safe mode, but it allows you to re-enable one service or software at a time, which can help to pinpoint the problem more accurately.

To perform a clean boot, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for msconfig, select the System Configuration item in the result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Check the Hide all Microsoft services option.
  5. Click the Disable all button.

    System configuration services

    System configuration services

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the Startup tab.
  8. Click the Open Task Manager option.
  9. Click the Startup tab.
  10. Select each application, and click the Disable button in the bottom-right corner.

    Disable startup services

    Disable startup services

    Source: Windows Central

  11. Close Task Manager.
  12. Click the OK button in the “System Configuration” experience.
  13. Restart your computer.

While this process won’t fix the problem, it’ll give you an idea of where to start looking to resolve the issue.

If, after restarting your computer, you no longer see a black screen, you’ll now know that there’s a problem with one of the background processes.

Troubleshooting black screen using clean boot

In this case, use these steps to re-enable the items (one-by-one), and restart your device to see which one is causing the black screen:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for msconfig, select the System Configuration item in the result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Check the Hide all Microsoft services option.
  5. Check one of the services.

    Startup services

    Startup services

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, repeat the steps for every item until you can determine the device that’s causing the problem.

Re-enabling startup items

If none of the services seem to be the issue, use these steps to re-enable startup items:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Task Manager.
  3. Click the Startup tab.
  4. Select an app and click the Enable button in the bottom-right corner.

    Enable startup services

    Enable startup services

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Close Task Manager.
  6. Restart your computer.

After completing the steps, repeat the steps for every item until figuring out the app that’s causing the black screen.

If you want to revert the changes, you can use the same instructions outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to click the Enable all button, and on step No. 10, click the Enable button for each application that was previously enabled.

Reinstalling or rolling back graphics driver

Usually, a computer may experience a black screen due to a buggy or compatibility issue with a graphics driver, which might you have installed manually or through Windows Update.

Other times, the video driver update may not be the problem, but the one installed on your device may be corrupted, and as a result, you could be seeing a black screen.

Reinstalling graphics driver

To reinstall the graphics driver, while in safe mode, you can remove it and then allow Windows 10 to reinstall it automatically using these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the Display Adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the video adapter and select the Uninstall device option.

    Device Manager uninstall video driver

    Device Manager uninstall video driver

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can also select the Delete the driver software for this device option to remove the driver from your device. Sometimes, this is recommended, but if Windows 10 can’t find the driver online, you’ll need to download the driver from your manufacturer support website manually.

  5. Click the OK button.
  6. Restart your computer.

Once your device restarts, Windows 10 should automatically reinstall the graphics driver, and hopefully, the black screen will disappear.

If you see a black screen after upgrading to a new version of Windows 10, you may need to download the latest compatible driver from your device or graphics from your manufacturer’s support website to resolve the issue.

Rolling back graphics driver

Alternatively, if you recently installed an update, it may be possible to rollback to the previous version of the driver.

To roll back a device driver to an earlier version, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the Display Adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the graphics card, and select the Properties option.

    Device Manager driver properties

    Device Manager driver properties

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Click the Driver tab.
  6. Click the Roll Back Driver button.

    Device Manager rollback driver

    Device Manager rollback driver

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Select a reason why you’re rolling back (select any option).

    Reason to roll back driver

    Reason to roll back driver

    Source: Windows Central

  8. Click the Yes button to confirm.
  9. Restart your computer.

After completing the steps, Windows 10 will uninstall the driver, and the previous version will be restored.

If the Roll Back Driver button isn’t available, then Windows 10 doesn’t have any previous driver to roll back. If you know that an earlier driver was working without splashing a black screen, you may be able to find and download an older version of the driver from your manufacturer’s support website, and use their instructions to install the controller.

Disabling Fast Startup

Sometimes a black screen will appear because the fast startup feature is enabled on your computer.

Fast startup is just a feature that allows Windows 10 to boot faster, but if it’s causing problems, you can disable it with these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Control Panel and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Click on System and Security.
  4. Click on Power options.
  5. Select the Choose what the power button does link on the left pane.

    Power options

    Power options

  6. Click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link.

    Change power settings

    Change power settings

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Clear the Turn on fast startup (recommended) option.

    Enable Fast startup

    Enable Fast startup

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: This feature isn’t available on every installation, because it’ll depend on your hardware configuration.

  8. Click the Save changes button.
  9. Restart your computer.

If fast startup was the problem, after restarting your device, you should no longer see a black screen.

Disabling high contrast

If you’re using the high contrast feature, there’s a chance that it may be the reason why you’re getting a black screen.

To disable high contrast, while in safe mode, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Ease of Access.
  3. Click on High contrast.
  4. Turn off the high contrast toggle switch.

    Disable high contrast

    Disable high contrast

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, restart your device to see if disabling the features addresses the black screen problem.

Stopping RunOnce process

RunOnce allows you to specify commands that Windows 10 can run one time and then delete, but it can also cause the screen to go black on your device.

To stop the RunOnce process, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Task Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Processes tab.
  4. Select the RunOnce process and click the End task button (if applicable)
  5. Click the Services tab (if the process wasn’t in the “Processes” tab).
  6. Right-click the RunOnce item, and select the Stop button.
  7. Restart your computer.

If the RunOnce process was causing the problem, you should be able to start using your device normally.

Uninstalling updates

In recent times, there have been many cumulative updates rolling out with bugs and other compatibility issues.

If you’ve recently updated your device, and you’re experiencing a black screen, then removing the update may resolve the issue.

To remove a cumulative update, you won’t be able to access the Update & Security settings, but you can still use Control Panel with these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Control Panel and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Under the “Programs” items, click the Programs and Features option.
  4. Click the View installed updates option from the left pane.

    Control Panel in safe mode

    Control Panel in safe mode

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select the most recent update.
  6. Click the Uninstall button.

    Uninstall updates in safe mode

    Uninstall updates in safe mode

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, the update will uninstall, and Windows 10 won’t try to install it again until the next update releases.

Removing security software

Although security software is meant to keep your device and data safe, it can also cause problems like a black screen.

If you’re using a third-party antivirus or another kind of security software, you can remove it to determine whether the application is causing the problem.

To uninstall an application, while in safe mode, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click on Apps & features.
  4. Under the “Apps & features” section, select the security app.
  5. Click the Uninstall button.

    Uninstall app in safe mode

    Uninstall app in safe mode

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Continue with the on-screen directions to remove the app.
  7. Restart your computer.

If you no longer see a black screen on Windows 10, you can reinstall them again, but if the problem re-appears, remove it one more time, and check your software vendor’s support website for an updated version or additional support.

Creating new account

A problem with your current account could also be the reason that you’re experiencing a black screen.

To determine whether or not your account is causing problems, while in safe mode, you can create a new local account, and if it works, you should consider moving to the new account.

You can quickly create a new account in safe mode using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to create a new account and press Enter:

    net user tempuser /add

    In the command, make sure to change “tempuser” for the name of the account you want to create.

  4. Type the following command to change the account type to “Administrator” and press Enter:

    net localgroup administrators tempuser /add

    Create new account Command Prompt

    Create new account Command Prompt

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Sign in with the new user account.

If your device is no longer experiencing a black screen, then the problem is something related to your old user account. Instead of spending valuable time troubleshooting the old account, you should refer to this guide to move your files, link your user profile with a Microsoft account, and delete the old account.

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