How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

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windows 8 start screen icon   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 ComputerAmong the many changes coming with Windows 8 and new computers designed for it is a change in the way we access our computers’ BIOS. No longer do we press a certain key during the boot process to reveal the BIOS – instead, an option to access the BIOS is located in Windows 8’s boot options menu.

Traditionally, computers displayed a message like “Press F2 to enter setup” at the beginning of the boot process. Pressing this key entered the computer’s BIOS. However, Windows 8 hardware uses the UEFI replacement for the traditional BIOS, like Macs do. Some solid-state drive-equipped Windows 8 PCs boot so fast that you’d only have a 200 millisecond (that’s 0.2 seconds) window of opportunity to press the key combination.

Windows 8 Hardware vs. Old Computers With Windows 8

Note that this new method only applies if you purchased a new computer with Windows 8 preinstalled – these will use UEFI. However, if you’ve installed Windows 8 on an existing computer that uses the legacy BIOS system, you’ll access the BIOS in the same way as always by pressing the key that appears during your boot process.

This key is often F2 or Delete, but it can also be other keys. The exact key depends on your computer – if you don’t see the appropriate key displayed on your screen during the boot-up process, consult your computer’s manual.

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vmware bios post message   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

Accessing Boot Options

There are several ways to access Windows 8’s boot options menu. The easiest one to find is in the PC Settings application – press WinKey+C to reveal the Charms bar, click Settings, and select Change PC settings to access it.

windows 8 settings charm on bar   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

In the PC Settings application, select the General category and click the Restart now button under Advanced startup. Your computer will restart and you’ll enter the Windows 8s boot options menu, where you can access the UEFI BIOS and change other settings.

windows 8 advanced startup menu   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

You can also hold Shift while clicking Restart in the Shut Down menu to restart your computer into the boot options menu. This is a quick way to restart into the boot options menu, as you can access the Shut Down button from the Charms anywhere on your system.

windows 8 restart from charms   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

Command-line geeks will be happy to know they can run a special shutdown.exe command in a Command Prompt window to restart their computer directly into the boot options menu:

Shutdown.exe /r /o

windows 8 shutdown and access boot options command   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

Accessing UEFI BIOS

The boot options menu has been designed to integrate some commonly used options that people went into the BIOS for. For example, if you want to boot your computer off a USB drive, DVD or CD, or another device, you can click the Use a device tile in the boot options menu and select the device you want to boot from.

If you’re just here to access your computer’s UEFI BIOS, click the Troubleshoot tile.

windows 8 boot options menu   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

This will reveal an Advanced Options screen with a variety of tools – the UEFI Firmware Settings tile will take you to your computer’s BIOS. (On UEFI, which stands for “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface”, the firmware settings menu is equivalent to a traditional PC’s BIOS.)

access uefi firmware settings in windows 8   How To Access The BIOS On A Windows 8 Computer

If you don’t see the UEFI Firmware Settings tile here, your computer doesn’t use UEFI. You’ll need to access the BIOS in the traditional way, by pressing a specific key during the boot-up process. See the first section above for more information.

If there’s an error booting Windows, you won’t be locked out of the BIOS — the boot options screen will appear when you start your computer. From here, you can repair Windows or enter your BIOS.

Why the Change?

While this may be slightly inconvenient, as there’s no way to access the BIOS in normal use without booting into Windows first, it’s surely necessary. Microsoft’s blog post about this on the Building Windows 8 blog describes how this new system came to be. With the increased boot speed, some systems had a less than 200 millisecond window of opportunity to press a key. Even the best key-tappers at Microsoft could only press a key once every 250ms — to access the BIOS, frantic tapping, luck, and several compuer reboots were all necessary.

This also brings some much-needed consistency to Windows 8 computers — they’ll all have a consistent way of accessing the BIOS. Currently, different computers use different keys at start-up.

While Windows 8 may have some questionable design decisions that some people will dislike, this shouldn’t be one of them. The new method of accessing the BIOS is necessary and well-implemented.

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62 Comments - Write a Comment

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IamAshMcLean

My Question is… This can be more difficult to Re-install the system in case of severe crashes?

Chris Hoffman

I would hope that the BIOS would be an option if an OS can’t boot. If Windows can’t boot properly, but still boots partially, you can select the BIOS in the boot options menu.

Symondymond

Found I can get into the BIOS of the Toshiba Win8 laptop I brought last week. But it gets stuck trying to install windows 7 because part of the hidden parition that Win8 installs blocks it. Plugged in a 1000 Euro laptop. Unplugged a 10 piece of junk. Trying to uninstall windows invalidates the warranty. No warning of any of this on the box when you buy it of course.

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Pax

Very useful information, thanks – saved! I’m wondering about the possibility of getting alternate OSes installed on some of these new EFI hybrids that are coming out. I’m already reading about issues with GRUB and GPT (vs MBR) formatted drives. This sounds like a legacy issue that will be circumvented given a little time, however (hopefully). Dual-booting Win8 and Linux seems like the biggest issue – where it’s either one OS or the other.

At the very least, it would make an interesting future article here at MUO;-)

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Gideon Pioneer

So you can’t access the BIOS/UEFI without going through Windows 8? In that case what if I wanted to get rid of Windows 8 and install another OS? A little suspect.

I remember there was talk way back about something along the lines of if you get a PC preloaded with W8 you won’t be able to install other operating systems but that was refuted or something (I believe it came to be “it’s up to the manufacturer”).

Chris Hoffman

I imagine you can get to the BIOS if no OS can boot.

That restriction only applies to Windows RT on ARM — standard Intel/AMD x86 systems will allow you to install any OS you like.

aLmAnZo

No, you can’t!

My wife got a new windows 8 computer, and after a while the hard drive failed. It was covered by the warranty, but when the computer arrived back from service, windows wasn’t properly installed. On boot, the computer simply stated that the windows installation had an error, and requested that the installation process should be restarted. No information on how to boot from any other drive.

I contacted the workshop asking for them to send me windows on a stick, but they wouldn’t. I tried quite a while to enter BIOS with no sucess. Tapping that key during those 200 ms seems to be the only way.

Reply

ArrGH!

Is it just me or does the Win 8 Metro screen look like a pre-school toy? I keep waiting for to tell “the cow says MOOOOOO!”

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Terry

Good to know how to do since I am bound to work on these.

As for myself Windows 8, no thanks. UEFI, traditional BIOS isn’t/wasn’t much of a security hole. I think the whole UEFI thing is more of an attempt to install gatekeeping into hardware after all it’s not really security if the owner of the equipment is the one untrusted and a conglomeration of companies are the trusted ones. Toll bridge ahead!

Chris Hoffman

UEFI has a lot of advantages, like faster boot times, etc. Macs have been using it for a long time.

I’m not a huge fan of Windows 8 but UEFI is an upgrade.

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Frederick Doe

Hopefully there will be a backup way to enter into the UEFI in case something goes really wrong with Windows 8. A small “reset” pinhole somewhere would be sufficient

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Aleks

What about powering on the system while holding down F2? (Like OEMs do to access recovery partitions).

Chris Hoffman

Nope, don’t think this will work on UEFI hardware.

Rod Smith

The UEFI spec has no user interface requirements. If a manufacturer wanted to implement this, they could. (My ASUS motherboard has UEFI firmware and uses Del to access its setup utility, for instance.)

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Richard Steven Hack

I can’t wait to see what a disaster this will be for us PC tech support people!

Windows 7 on occasion hoses its boot loader completely, making it impossible to boot without going into the “repair” subsystem – which ALSO frequently screws up and makes it impossible to either fix the system OR enter the command line options.

If this happens in Windows 8 – and I bet you it will because Microsoft ALWAYS gets this stuff wrong – it will make it impossible to access your BIOS no matter how bad you need to get to it.

Also, this may make it incredibly difficult to use third-party “live CDs” to repair Windows if they don’t support the new boot methods… I assume that part will be fixed at some point, however – hackers never give up! :-)

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Richard Steven Hack

Oh, and Microsoft’s explanation about how the timing issue was the problem is so much nonsense. There’s no reason BIOS manufacturers couldn’t put a BIOS-adjustable timing loop in the boot process to enable more time to use F8. They would have done so if asked by Microsoft.

This IS a VERY questionable design decision and we’re going to see OEMs and tech support hackers working frantically to get around it over the next six months… Trust me.

GrrGrrr

agree with you, but that in 6 months Win8 will become slow enough to allow sufficient time to press F8..lol

Chris Hoffman

Well, they could do that, but it would make boot-up times take longer. Most people won’t use the BIOS regularly, so that would be silly and waste people’s times.

Rod Smith

I don’t accept that a 2-second delay would be all that terrible.

Koszyk

Set the “displaybootmenu” option on the Boot Manager BCD entry
Bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displaybootmenu yes
And use F8 before acces startup options :)

You’re welcome

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Ahmed Khalil

Windows 8 is looks like a new operating system but actually the core is the same of win 7

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Usman Mubashir

Win 8 makes a lot of things quite interesting

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muotechguy

Presumably, you’ll also get this feature if you build your own system with a modern motherboard (with UEFI)?

Also, doesnt allowing the operating system access to UEFI config pose a severe security risk? I mean, if malware can subjugate the OS, then it will also be able to access the UEFI, no?

Chris Hoffman

Yup, assuming you get UEFI on your motherboard.

Well, clicking the button reboots your system into UEFI. So malware would be able to reboot you into UEFI, but that’s about it, as far as I know.

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Adjei Kofi

Oh I see why I couldn’t get my windows 7 showing up on start up. Anyway, that’s a ‘cool’ move by Microsoft. So what if you can’t boot in to windows in the first place. Just wondering.

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Nikhil Gupta

just simply restart the computer and press delete key or key which is open bios.
key will be written on start up screen…
finally we can access our BIOS.

Chris Hoffman

Not with Windows 8 hardware!

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Arthur Johansen

This is totally Bullcrap. I mean, it took me an Hour to figure out how to get it to boot a Vista DVD, & even then i have no idea wat happened to make it finally work.
Windows should have done more like Linux or some other tech makers *Cough cough* Apple. WHo implemented things MUCH slower. @ least then it wuld make more time for each feature, if u can call it that, more accepted & gotten used 2.
Can’t wait 2 c how this all plays out, since the only reason I use WIndows anymore is for the software that isnt on Linux (not Office, I use OpenOffice anyway). Linux needs to build up its software stuff & u might c more ppl moving towards that OS

Chris Hoffman

Yeah, the OS (Windows especially) is just a platform for applications. I just want Windows to get our of my way and run my software, PC games, etc.

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Kayhan Tanriseven

Ok, We cannot see UEFI Firmware settings under Troubleshoot or either boot keys while restarting… now what? can you guys help?

Chris Hoffman

If you can’t see the UEFI option, your computer probably uses the standard BIOS so you’ll need to press a key while booting (often Delete, F2, etc.)

If you don’t know the key, try looking in your computer’s manual. If you don’t have the manual on-hand, try Googling for it.

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Papoos

I don’t have the ‘Use a device’ and ‘Use another Operating System’ options in the menu. Help??

Chris Hoffman

Do you have a new computer with UEFI, or an older computer with the traditional BIOS?

In other words: Did your computer come with Windows 8? If you upgraded an older computer, you won’t see these options.

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az

I don’t have Troubleshoot and Use a device options, so I can’t install another system! Help!

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az

And Bios key isn’t working of course. So I’m screwed.

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Will

The part where it says “If you don’t see the UEFI Firmware Settings tile here, your computer doesn’t use UEFI. ” annoys me. My computer DOES use UEFI and I don’t see that option at all.

G.Harrington

Same here. Such is the problem with stating (multiple) ill-informed absolutes. *stares pointedly at the article’s author*

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Falkon

Hi Guys. Just a bought an ASUS with windows 8- Now the windows dont even allow me to go further than the sign in local… have tried reset password from other windows 8 from a friend. Does not work ( there was an error…..) have tried to restart with my finger glued to F2 or F12 or any other Fs there are. Just nothing.

Please help. Need to start the projects and need this system to start.

God Bless All. Waiting for an answer.

Tina Sieber

Falkon,

I do hope you figured this out quickly and are no longer waiting for an answer. However, if you are still looking for help with this issue or have run into other challenges in the meantime, I recommend posting a question on MakeUseOf’s Q&A forum. There are lots of people eager to help with tech questions.

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Rod Smith

If I ever buy a computer that requires me to boot Windows to get to the firmware setup utility, it’s going back to the store and the manufacturer is going to get a very nasty letter. This is the most idiotic idea imaginable — the whole idea of a firmware setup utility is to set options INDEPENDENT OF THE OS — indeed, BEFORE the OS boots! This sort of thing locks the computer into using a single OS.

The stated reason (that the window for key-pressing is too short) is bogus. Simply do what Apple does: Have the user hold down a key CONTINUOUSLY during boot, rather than require a discrete keypress during a given period. Alternatively, place a brief delay in the boot process during which a keypress can be given.

I sincerely hope your description is wrong or incomplete. If not, I couldn’t disagree more with your concluding paragraph that this design decision is one that nobody will dislike. I’ve heard of (and seen) many bad things in Windows 8, but as described in this article, this feature tops the list. Of course, it’s not really a Windows 8 feature; it’s a firmware issue. That just makes it worse. (To be clear: Providing an interface to the firmware in Windows is OK; but forcing users to boot to Windows to adjust the firmware is definitely NOT acceptable.)

Angry Man

This is definately the work of a malware corporation. I am unable to boot into a cd. I wonder why? I imagine it’s because a certain company didn’t want me to boot into a cd that would provide me with an operating system that doesn’t have their name on it.

My system does use UEFI. However, I have not found any clues on how to boot into my cd. This does not help.

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JC

BIOS is used to allocated resource and initialize most of hardware devices, such as CPU, chipset, VGA, RAM and HDD.

Actually, legacy BIOS (Not EFI) will take you about 8 to 10 seconds and OS starting will take you above 20 seconds.

If no BIOS, OS may show yellow mark or no device.
So user should ask the question to OS and driver Engineers why boot slowly.

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Nogeeks.org

After running the Upgrade Advisor from MS (my older pc passed the tests), I upgraded to Win8 Pro. Now I have no BIOS access at all. Just a black screen.

Wonderful. Win8 is a disaster.

martyn

I’m in the same boat!

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Nogeeks.org

This is a disaster.

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Damian

I dont have option use a devic…

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Martyn Birzys

Last week I started getting black screen on startup. I was able to boot after hard reset. Then it got worse, I had to do couple of hard restarts to boot. Since couple days ago I am no longer able to boot at all. Once I push start button, the black screen stays all the time – no Windows logo, no manufacturer logo, no beep, nothing.
I can’t get into BIOS, can’t change boot sequence, can’t boot into safe mode.
Here is a ‘simple’ question – is this OS or hardware problem?

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Kaleb Bryant

I did everything listed and when I clicked on “UEFI Firmware settings” it said I needed to restart my computer to access it, so I clicked “Restart” but when it restarted, it just sent me to the normal lock-out screen, not the UEFI settings page. Please help D:

Chris Hoffman

That’s really weird. If the button is there, your computer has UEFI instead of the traditional BIOS, and that should access it. Maybe try looking in your PC’s manual or contacting the manufacturer? (Maybe there’s another key or something really weird?) This is how it’s supposed to work.

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G.Harrington

…except that it is not consistent.

I am banging my head against a wall. I am attempting to boot from anything other than the hard drive on a Lenovo G580.

I can access the BIOS during startup regardless whether boot mode is set to ‘legacy’ or ‘UEFI’, but no UEFI settings show on the boot options screen at all (no troubleshooting tile).

What I can’t do is get it to boot from a CD or USB unless I set both boot and SATA controller to legacy mode… whereupon I can no longer access the hard drive at all – not even as an emulated IDE device.

While this highlights the lack of consistency, the boot issues I’m having are most likely as a result of flaky UEFI/BIOS on this model… but that doesn’t stop me getting extremely frustrated with Windows 8 right now.

The suggestion that the machine boots too quickly to allow for hot-key presses during boot is ridiculous, by the way. It would be simple enough to pause/delay for a second just to allow for this, and I refuse to believe that anyone thought adding a full second to the boot time would make such a feature worthless. It’s not a big problem to provide a way to switch such a feature on or off for those who find that extra second intolerable.

You may as well suggest that fuel stations are pointless because cars travel too fast to stop at them.

Chris Hoffman

That’s really weird. Is there a special boot menu that you can access by pressing a key, perhaps? Maybe check out the PC’s manual — or contact the manufacturer, because that seems really flaky.

The idea that the computer boots too fast is Microsoft’s official rationale. They want to compete with tablets like the iPad and power on as fast as possible, no adding additional delays. It is a bit silly because it should be possible to hold down a key or something, in my opinion.

G.Harrington

It is possible to enter the BIOS regardless of the boot mode setting (and regardless of Microsoft’s claims), though it won’t actually *display* the key options during POST unless set to BIOS (non-UEFI) boot mode.

I have since managed to get it to recognise a USB key, and even boot from it while the SATA controller is set to AHCI mode… but that optical drive is still invisible.

I have no idea why the troubleshooting/UEFI option is not available in Windows 8 on this model, but there appears to be no other way to access any UEFI options either, so I’m chalking this up to a poor/flaky UEFI implementation by Lenovo.

Windows 8 is making me consider a change of career though. I might give up computers and take up gardening.

*sigh*

G.Harrington

I should clarify that I also had to disable ‘secure boot’ to boot to the USB drive. I’m going to get into the habit of disabling and re-enabling these options either side of imaging the machines in order to provide the full and genuine environment and features expected by clients who request that version of Windows… but I’ll e downgrading these to Windows 7 once I’ve formed a comprehensive plan (from what I’ve read, many have been having trouble – though the procedure doesn’t seem too daunting) – at which point, I’ll just leave these options set to legacy and unsecure boot for the sake of convenience (and, oddly, consistency with procedures currently in place for the rest of our machines).

It seems that someone always has to make things “easier” by screwing with them… *sigh*

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Paul

I don’t think of it as necessary. I just think it’s annoying, because in the previous versions (btw they just worked fine) you could access the BIOS in 2-3 seconds. Now you have to wait for the computer to start, then to shut down, and finally to start again just to navigate through menus that dont belong here.

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Steven Davis

“If you don’t see the UEFI Firmware Settings tile here, your computer doesn’t use UEFI.” But, that isn’t true. The hard drive (& hence the installation) comes from a computer that used a traditional bios, but my new one uses UEFI. Is windows able to communicate w/ my uefi settings, or do I need to re-install?

Chris Hoffman

I’m not sure Windows has ever properly supported moving OSes between machines like that. You generally have to reinstall Windows. So I’m not sure.

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Symondymond

Its a disaster for me. Windows 8 wont allow me internet passthrough on virtually any clients network or mine at the 2 regional offices I have been to so far. Several of the apps I use dont work in Win8 and even the games I sometimes play when away dont run.

The only thing less productive for me than using it is trying to uninstall windows 8. Toshiba in particular have made it as difficult as possible and removing it actually invalidates your hardware warranty (yep makes no sense to me either). They have actually done everything they can to lock down the laptop I brought last week and breaking it is a nightmare.

This was commercial suicide for MS. I now wish I had brought a Mac. If I am going to have something inflexible and locked down I might as well go all the way.

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Shreya

I can’t see the UEFI button or use a device button, so I guess my system is’nt UEFI. I have tried F1 , F2,…F12, all the keys, but I still can’t access BIOS. Any help would be appreciated.

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Rubis Song

I have always see the UEFI in my pc but never really pay attention to it. Now i know what is its use. Thank you

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Brian Amesse

Sooo frustrating!!! My buddy has an Asus S56C that came with widows 8… I would love to get 7 on it since all this BIOS bs alone is the lamest shit ever let alone that installing linux dual boot is not simple…I do the restarting of the computer but I do not get the troubleshooting option! I tried restarting the GUI way and the cmd way but nothing…. anyone know what the hell is going on? Maybe my buddies laptop can’t use anything but 8 lol

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Irfan

Hello,
I have Asus K56 cm notebook.
I typed “shutdown” in run yesterday and a cmd prompt kind of black window popped up and disappeared.
Nothing happened to the laptop except that the fan is running continuously.
I believe the fan is running from that time when I did that shutdown thing in run.
Do you have any suggestion?

Chris Hoffman

I don’t think that should cause any problems, but I suppose you might want to try rebooting it.

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