Is it possible to Boot into Safe Mode on an Android Device, similar to booting up into safe mode on a Windows PC ?

An example being In Windows if you were infected with a virus you may want to immunize it in safe mode ? Is the same scenario likely with the Android OS ?

If for example you experience crashing, or freezing or indeed have battery issues ?

Perhaps it can be resolved in Safe Mode, if it exists ?

It is just something that came to mind and I thought might be worthy of asking !

  • What do you wish to achieve with "Safe Mode"? On Windows, this merely disables non-essential drivers and services. There aren't too many of those on an embedded system like Android. Dec 3, 2012 at 17:41
  • If problems exists such as described above
    – Simon
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Chinmay: Safe Mode keeps services from launching at startup. This is very useful when you have a rogue/faulty app that you want to uninstall but it is hard/impossible to do when the service is running.
    – ale
    Dec 3, 2012 at 22:51
  • @AlEverett: Good point. I've never needed anything but recovery mode on Android, but safe mode would have helped when an app b0rked my phone a while ago. I owe the ClockworkMod devs a beer for enabling ADB via recovery. Dec 3, 2012 at 23:26
  • @Chinmay: Whats ADB?
    – Simon
    Dec 4, 2012 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


This depends a little on the device and what version of Android you have.

On versions of Android later than 4.1 you can access safe mode by bringing up the power down menu (i.e. hold the power button) and long pressing the "Power off" option. This will bring up a little dialog box that will ask if you want to reboot into safe mode. The addition is noted on the Android web site under "System" changes.

On some older phones - though not all will necessarily support this - there may be a button combination that you can hold at boot to get into safe mode instead. For example, the Galaxy S2 used to allow you to hold down the hard menu button during the boot process to start up in safe mode. Others have used (I believe) holding both volume up and volume down. Check your user manual (or Google) for your specific device to find more information, including whether or not the device supports safe mode at all.

As to what "safe mode" means - it generally disables third party apps and widgets, to help you recover from a bad app install, give you a chance to remove a possibly rogue/malicious app, or simply determine what apps may be causing problems in your system.

  • What about in terms of Virus infection, quarantine and or eradication does safe mode apply here especially if one does not have a dedicated Anti Virus already installed ?
    – Simon
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:07
  • @Simon: It's probably a good resource, but it might depend somewhat on exactly what the virus was doing. If it was a malicious app (and confined to the application package itself) then you could use safe mode to delete it without giving it the opportunity to launch automatically or anything like that. If it somehow modified your underlying system then you might be best served by re-flashing the OS entirely, and I don't know that safe mode would help much. Most cases: probably a useful tool for removing virus apps. Dec 3, 2012 at 18:10
  • I was thinking more in terms not within the app itself ?(But then I'm not sure how else the virus could enter except maybe by USB - maybe thats where USB debugging comes into play ? How many apps in the Google Play Store could potentially carry viruses (viri ?) Is there a strong screening process beforehand
    – Simon
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:13
  • @Simon Potentially all could contain viri, as there is no screening process. Google may look at apps if they get loads of flags, but that it is.
    – Liam W
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:16
  • 2
    @Simon: Screening is discussed a bit here Are the apps safe? How can I make my Android more secure?. Many malicious apps do tend to be sideloaded rather than coming from the Play Store. Dec 3, 2012 at 18:19

It depends on the device.

Some devices have a safe mode, whereas some do not.

If it does have a safe mode, the combination would most likely be in the instruction manual. On my old LG-GT540, pressing Home & Power booted safe mode.

Remember that this functionality can sometimes be broken when using a custom ROM.

  • That might be seen as a disadvantage to flashing a custom ROM then ?
    – Simon
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:08
  • @Simon Correct. When I had my LG-GT540, the home & power combi was used for recovery, so safe mode was lost, although I never really used safe mode, as it broke widgets.
    – Liam W
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:10

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