How to Disable Secure Boot in Windows 8

Secure boot is a feature of Windows 8 that helps to prevent malicious software applications and “unauthorized” operating systems from loading during the system start-up process. While it is a great security feature, it effectively prevented you from dual booting your PC. Any other OS without the proper signing key will be deemed as “unauthorized” and won’t be able to boot up. The way to go about it is either install an OS that comes with the appropriate signing key or disable the secure boot feature altogether. In this article, we will show you the latter.

It is important to note that the secure boot is not a Windows 8 feature. It is in fact a protocol in the UEFI specification. It’s been around for a while, but hasn’t been implemented in many operating systems. Microsoft has chosen to do so for their Windows 8 OS and requires all PCs that want to have the Windows 8-certified logo to ship with the secure boot feature enabled. This has, of course, become a bit of a pain for people who want to dual-boot, either with Linux or any other OS.

The intention of Secure Boot isn’t to “lock out” other operating systems. This is just an unintended consequence of the feature. The purpose of UEFI is to check for stuff that might make a computer behave unfavorably, like low-level malware that could sit between the hardware and operating system.

Disabling secure boot requires tweaking your own computer’s BIOS. If you are not comfortable with playing with the BIOS settings, then this tutorial is not for you. Let’s walk through the process:

Directly in your Windows 8 desktop:

1. Access your Charms bar (Win+C). Click the “Settings” charm.

win8uefi-settings

2. Within the “Settings” charm, click “Change PC Settings.”

3. Select “General,” then click “Restart Now” under “Advanced Settings.” You’ll be asked to wait. This might take a minute or so, depending on your computer’s abilities.

win8uefi-generalsettings

4. Within the new menu that appears, click “Troubleshoot,” then click “Advanced Options.”

5. Click “UEFI Firmware Settings.” Notice all the twists and turns you had to take to get here. It’s not over yet!

6. Click the “Restart” button and wait for the computer to successfully restart.

7. Once the computer starts up, you’ll need to access your BIOS. To do it, you have to press “Delete,” “F1,” or “F2”, depending on your computer, on your keyboard as soon as the computer begins its power-on process again. Try each one and see if it works. Usually, the key is revealed at the startup splash screen in a message that says “Press <some key> to Enter Setup.

Note: Each BIOS configuration utility is different. You’ll have to intuitively navigate through the interface with my vague directions.

8. Try to find a menu labeled “Security” or “Security Settings.” Once you navigate to it, head straight down to “Secure boot configuration.” There’s a possibility that you might have a “Secure boot” option right when you arrive at the “Security” menu, so look out for that also. Once you see a “Secure boot” option, disable it and restart by pressing F10. This is often the magic key that saves your settings and restarts the computer. 

Note: You might not even find a secure boot option anywhere. You might not even find an option under “Security.” The below image shows the option as “UEFI Boot” under the “Boot” menu. Keep your eyes peeled for anything containing the words “Secure boot” and “UEFI.”

win8uefi-securebootsetting

Enjoy your dual-bootable system!

As can be seen, the ability to disable the secure boot is determined by the hardware (mainly the BIOS). While our hardware allowed us to disable the secure boot feature, that doesn’t means your hardware is the same. You will have to play with it and hope that it comes with the ability to unlock the secure boot.

If you have any questions, do post your question in the comments below and we will try our best to help you out.

46 comments

  1. Ha! if you system is ancient like mine, you don’t have to disable secure boot, it just does not work. lol

  2. Great! For a too long time I could not dual-boot my Linux OS. Your instructions solved the problem.

    Thanks for this!

  3. I clicked on “Troubleshoot,” then “Advanced Options,” but there was no Click “UEFI Firmware Settings.” I only have System Restore, Command Prompt, System Image Recovery, Startup Settings, Automatic Repair. I clicked on Startup Settings hoping I would find it there, but no such luck. My laptop was purchased with Vista on it, I upgraded to Windows 7, then when Windows 8 was released I installed it. I want to go back to Windows 7, but I only have an upgrade version so I cannot install it. I have a system disk for XP. I am trying to install XP and then re-upgrade to 7, but Windows 8 will not allow anything. I have been in the bios file and I see nothing for “Secure boot” or “UEFI.” Where can I get help to get Windows 8 off my laptop? I need an OS I can use.

    • There’s no clicking where I’m telling you to go. Going into BIOS involves pressing a setup key as soon as you turn on the laptop. Usually, when you first turn on the laptop/desktop, it will tell you to “Press X for setup.” When you press that key, you’ll reach the BIOS configuration utility. From there, I can guide you if you need it! :)

    • If your system shipped with Vista, though possible, it’s unlikely that it has Secure Boot (the UEFI). If so, you would’ve had trouble installing Windows 7.

      To install XP on a modern computer (anything with SATA), you need the proper drivers slipstreamed into the XP install CD. Or if the computer has a floppy, the drivers can be installed that way.

      The only way that I can see a computer that was built for Vista to have UEFI, would have been to replace the MB with the feature built in. Very few users would buy such a component, maybe IT departments in business/corporate who wants more control over their computers.

      Cat

  4. Thanks, Secure Boot was ruining my day; I’ve never dealt with something so inane as trying to use a USB boot device on a Windows 8 laptop. I presume there is no way to access these advanced settings in desktop mode (I avoid metro like the plague on a non-touch screen laptop)?

  5. It appears that some traces of EUFI and Secure Boot may remain even after removing Windows 8 and upgrading to Windows 7: Linux’s GDisk report finding a malformed GPT header remaining on my Lenovo’s boot partition despite Win 7 having rewritten the boot partition as MBR. If you do choose to remove Win 8: use bootable Linux media to run GDisk (or a very thorough Windows utility — not just Magic Partition or the like), zap any GPT partitions, reformat the drive, and then make sure your bios does not have UEFI enabled — on my Lenovo the other option is called “Legacy boot”. Then install Win 7. Personally, I’ve become less and less interested in Windows; the jerky release cycle coupled with ill-implemented “innovation” speaks of a company which has lost direction. But MS has nearly always been hasty and lacked foresight — VBScripted web pages for Internet Explorer and auto-execute VBA macros for Office were both incredibly non-secure applications of technology, and both required extensive backpedaling by MS to handle their malicious use. Now, I’m not intending to hate on MS: a huge number of useful technologies have come out of Windows. And MS hasn’t, in the past, locked OS to hardware the way Apple has done. That may be where UEFI and MS are headed, though. In any case, with the expansion of cloud apps and open-source software, I have less use for Windows than ever.

    • “MS hasn’t, in the past, locked OS to hardware”
      Oh, really?! They why when I change my motherboard, I have to call Redmond and beg them to re-authorize my Windows? If “MS hasn’t, in the past, locked OS to hardware” then why can’t I install Windows on more than one computer at the same time like I can install Linux?

      • “the way Apple has done” makes all the difference.

        What you mentioned has more to do with Microsoft’s licensing policies than actually forcing you to buy new hardware when you want a new operating system. Of course, Apple’s solutions are becoming a bit more flexible.

        And… Commercial versions of Linux have the same kinds of key-based protections that Windows has. I wouldn’t complain about them, though. They can do as they wish with their product.

      • You can install the same windows on more then one computer. The hell with what Microsoft says, do it any f*cking way. If you aren’t running a business then what the f*ck difference does it make? If you are running a business, there have been some sneaky businesses out there that have used the same windows disk on 200 computers and Microsoft doesn’t know the difference. Microcsoft isn’t this big all knowing all seeing omnipresent being like most people think.

  6. I followed your directions until I got to the security, then my mouse didnt work or the arrow buttons!!!! MICROSOFT SUCKS

    • Once you get into your BIOS, the mouse doesn’t work anymore. That’s normal. Some BIOS interfaces allow for mouse activity, but most don’t.

      Arrow buttons not working is the fault of your BIOS manufacturer or keyboard manufacturer, not Microsoft. Most likely, you’re using a wireless keyboard or any other type of USB keyboard that stops sending signals once you’re in the BIOS, or the BIOS is selectively blocking your keyboard’s input.

      What you will need to do is try plugging in a wired keyboard (a simple one) to a rear USB port on your computer. Rear ports directly in contact with the motherboard’s circuit layout take precedence over front-side ports. I hope this helps.

      • Hi Miguel

        When I go in to change pc settings, I don’t get a General tab.

        Please help

        Regards

        Steve

        • This is what happens when there’s no standardization in the development of BIOS interfaces. You will have to refer to a manual for your model of computer or motherboard. Unfortunately, I can’t really help you with that.

          I’ll still give it a shot, though. Can you list what tabs you see?

  7. I was following this method on my Dell XPS 8700, when, just goofing around, I discovered I don’t need this approach. I simply do a regular shutdown. When I power up my computer and tap the F2/F12 key, the UEFI menu appears. No more “dance of the seven hoops” for me.

    • That’s my PC! So when you disabled Secure Boot & rebooted, did the OS fire right up, or was a reinstall required?

      I ask because I want to install a SSD & wish to install Windows 7 Pro x64 (OEM) on it. Or do I need the full (retail) version? My plans are to dual boot Windows 7 & 8, as well as have Linux Mint installed on another HDD.

      As for the original HDD, I plan to leave it “as is” until the warranty runs out. Because if warranty service is needed, that OS (or at least some of the partitions) needs to be there.

      Cat

    • If you cannot find a UEFI booting option once you’re in the BIOS configuration screen, this might mean that your computer doesn’t support such a thing. You shouldn’t worry about it in that case.

  8. I’m in the BIOS with my lenova ideapad u310, and i can see the option “secure boot” and it says enable, the problem is that it is in grey instead of white as in if it locked, I’m not able to disable it. I can’t figure out why it is locked.

  9. Probelmatic – Try this. First of all boot into the BIOS (Hold down f12 at boot, then press tab, and select bios)
    next goto the security TAB
    Here you will see the secure boot option enabled but greyed out.
    Select “administrative password” input a password, you are now able to disable secure boot!

    Hope that helped.

  10. OK, so if this does work, as I have a Dell XPS 8700 coming in this week with Windows 8 installed, will Windows 8 still startup? Or will I have to reinstall? I see that my model has been mentioned above.

    I intend on doing so anyway to a SSD, but will have to wait for Dell to ship me the OEM OS reinstall & resource DVD’s (one can get this for free during the warranty period, but it has to be requested). Because it’s been reported that the recovery media that can (& should) be made only allows for install on the same size HDD.

    My plan is to keep Windows 8 & dual boot with Linux Mint 15, but to avoid overwriting the Windows bootloader, I’ll disconnect that drive during the install & use whatever “F” key to select what drive to boot. Easy BCD is also an option, but I’d prefer not to tamper with the default Windows bootloader.

    Many Thanks for any answers.

    Cat

  11. Thanks very much for posting this!

    I got a new Lenovo G585 with Windows 8 pre-installed, and I couldn’t figure out how in the world I was going to install linux on it before reading this.

  12. I disabled secure boot and enabled legacy support, but now both boot options are available and uefi boot has higher priority so therefore still no change! please help!

  13. Lol! I go to find my way around this, and who do I see? Hi Miguel!

    Jeezus I hate Windows 8 with a passion. Your article was a bit too general for this picky new computer (Lenovo y500) but at least I’m a step or two closer.

    Truth

    • Hi there!

      It’s a bit difficult to write a specific piece when dealing with over 200 different BIOS permutations. Hang in there. You’ll find it! :D

  14. Everything in this tutorial is pointless. You can just press restart normally enter the BIOS and go to settings…

    All mine were greyed out it wont let me change secure boot.

  15. I installed Kubuntu while UEFI was on and now to boot Kubuntu I have to shut down win8, reset and disable UEFI and secure boot in BIOS. However, when I leave both options disabled I can boot ONLY Kubuntu (it starts automatically). Is there a way to choose which OS I want to use without the neccesity to change this options every single time?

  16. I go to Advanced Startup > Advanced Options > Change UEFI Settings then it’ll say click restart to change UEFI settings and poof. It restarts and brings me to my login screen.. Any suggestions?

  17. “The intention of Secure Boot isn’t to “lock out” other operating systems.”
    And Paris Hilton is a virgin. With Secure Boot Microsoft saw a chance to make sure that Linux cannot be installed on a system with a modern motherboard.

    “This is just an unintended consequence of the feature.”
    And the unintended consequence of installing decorative steel bars in all the windows and doors is that it stops burglars from entering your home.

    The instructions are for disabling Secure Boot on a PC running Windows. If I want to install only Linux, do I start at Step #8?

  18. Their conspiracy doesn’t seem to be working, since most UEFI manufacturers also allow installation of MBR-based legacy operating systems. Unfortunately, some of them don’t.

    In that case, Linux can also be installed by creating an EFI partition. Disabling UEFI is probably the easiest way to do it, though. I’m quite puzzled as to why a company that’s bent on destruction and domination would comply with a feature that can be disabled with a couple of keystrokes by an enthusiast.

    • “a feature that can be disabled with a couple of keystrokes by an enthusiast.”
      Then I guess I’m not much of an enthusiast because I don’t know how to do it.
      So, to install only Linux do I start at Step #8 of your instructions or some other step?

      • Oh, I am really sorry. I thought that the last question was rhetorical. Yes, you must enter your BIOS and disable UEFI through its settings. This differs from BIOS to BIOS. Are you having issues installing Linux? What distribution are you using?

        • Thanks for the answer.

          At present I still use a motherboard with BIOS, but I’m seeing more and more M/Bs and laptops with UEFI. One of these days I’d like to upgrade so I need to know how to give Safe Boot the boot. I’m partial to SimpltMEPIS and antiX although I do a lot of distro hopping.

          • Never tried those. I might give ’em a shot! :)

            Also, I have previously mentioned that most UEFI MBs are backwards compatible. However, I see Linux making UEFI-compatible distros in the near future, if they haven’t done so already.

  19. Please guide regarding Installation of Fedora or OpenSuse on a pre installed Windows 8 laptop. I would like to have Windows 8 and either of the former two OS.

  20. Oh Noooo! It’s never microsofts fault …… Microsoft are the victims of consumerism, not the bad gaiz.

  21. ill tell you how to disable secureboot when it is greyed out:

    first: to disable secureboot you need to follow the guide mentioned above untill you are in the BIOS

    second:put your computer in legacy mode then save and exit your computer will restart and come up with strange things DON’T worry well fix that

    third:when your computer restarts press F1 F2 or del key till your back in the BIOS slide over to boot and walla secureboot should be disabled if not select disable from the secureboot menu

    fourth: now get your computer out of legacy mode press f10 save and exit

    you should be done with secureboot for the rest of your life i hope this helped

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