Boot Android into Safe Mode to fix app problems

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If apps crashing or force closing is making your Android phone unstable, boot into Safe Mode to fix them. In this tutorial we’ll show you how.

Safe mode

What is safe mode?

Computers have always had a ‘safe mode’ that they could boot into to enable you to solve problems you were experiencing. Safe mode boots the basic OS, but no extra apps, drivers or anything else that would normally be set to run whenever you startup your computer.

This enables you to fix—or just remove—any apps etc that were causing your computer to crash or become unstable.

Android has a safe mode too. It’s not something you’ll need to use often. For the most part downloading apps from the Play Store is a safe process; occasionally you’ll encounter apps that are poorly written and force close but will not cause any future issues.

On rare occasions, though, you may find an app causes wider problems. For example it may be configured to launch when you boot your phone, but then it force closes, then reboots, then force closes and so on. It may be incompatible with your phone, or it may conflict with a hack or mod you’ve made. This constant crashing can render your device unusable.

In such cases booting into Safe Mode will enable you to fix the problem.

How to boot into safe mode

If you find your phone becomes unstable due to a misbehaving app, the first thing you need to do is power it off.

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On some phones the easiest way to do this is to pull the battery out then replace it. On those that don’t allow access to the battery hold the power button down for ten seconds.

To restart your phone in safe mode hold the power button down until the Google logo appears, then hold the volume down button until the phone has finished booting.

If it has worked you will see a Safe Mode notification in the bottom left corner of the screen.

How to reset an Android app

Your phone is now running, but only the core Android OS. No extra apps or functions will be running. This means your problem app will not auto-launch.

You can now set about solving the problem. Head into Settings > Apps > All apps then tap the app and select Clear data. This will completely reset the app and undo any changes you may have made to it.

Reset app

Try rebooting to see if this fixes the problem.

Remove the app

If not, boot into Safe Mode once again, and this time you will have to uninstall the app completely, either through the Play Store or manually (if you sideloaded it).

When you restart your phone after having been in Safe Mode you might find that your widgets, or some of them, have been removed from your home screens. You will need to set these up once again.

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You might also find you have been logged out of certain accounts in some of your apps—you will need to login again, but none of your data will have been lost.