How to enter the BIOS / UEFI on Windows 10 and previous Windows OS (Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and XP)

Share now:

This article will show you three methods for how to access the system BIOS / UEFI. The first option is a generic method, and the second and third options are Windows specific.

Basic terminology:

  • BIOS / UEFI vs Operating System – The BIOS / UEFI is separate to the operating system. In other words, you could have no operating system installed on your hard drive, but still have a BIOS.
  • BIOS – Stands for Basic Input / Output System.
  • UEFI – Stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. UEFI is the new BIOS and has replaced the traditional legacy BIOS. Most modern computers now come with a UEFI.

Option 01 – Press the BIOS key during boot-up

This option is the generic way to access the BIOS / UEFI. It is not specific to Windows computers.

When you first power on your computer, there is a small period of time before your PC boots into the operating system. During this period, you can hit your computers designated hotkey to access the BIOS.

The point during boot-up, is sometime between powering on the computer and before the operating system has started to load.

Knowing when to press the hotkey varies depending on the computer. All I can say is it is at the beginning when you power the computer on and will take some trial and error. Be fast.

If you have not pressed the key during this window in time, then you will need to try again, or use an alternate method.

Step 01: Power on your computer or restart

Step 02: Press the BIOS hotkey during boot-up at the right time

What key do you press to access the BIOS on startup?

The BIOS key will vary depending on the computer brand. Generally the most common hotkeys to press are DELETE and F2.

But to be more sure here is a list of common BIOS keys by brand:

  • Acer: F2 or DELETE
  • ASUS: F2 for all PCs, F2 or DELETE for motherboards
  • Dell: F2 or F12
  • HP: ESC or F10
  • Lenovo: F2 or Fn + F2
  • Lenovo (Desktops): F1
  • Lenovo (ThinkPads): Enter + F1
  • MSI: DELETE for motherboards and PCs
  • Microsoft Surface Tablets: Press and hold volume up button
  • Origin PC: F2
  • Samsung: F2
  • Sony: F1, F2, or F3
  • Toshiba: F2

Note: Some computers require you to repeatedly press the hotkey, and some others require an additional button to be pressed simultaneously with the hotkey.

You will have to do further research to be sure of your hotkey.

If you press the wrong hotkey, don’t worry. I recommend you don’t go and hit every key on the keyboard, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you happen to get it wrong. Just make sure you read what appears on the screen before pressing another key and be patient.

Common Problem: The computer starts up too fast to press the BIOS key

Most modern computers are designed to load as fast as possible, as a result the computer boots up in seconds. Most of the time this is a good thing, but for those trying to access the system BIOS, it’s an issue.

Don’t worry if this is the case, it’s a regular thing and easy to move past with an alternate method.

Generic note: Some BIOS / UEFI might give you the option to add a delay to the boot-up, to give you more time to press the hotkey. (Assuming you can get to the BIOS in the first place).

Note for Windows 10: You can disable “fast startup” without accessing the BIOS. This could also give you more time to press the BIOS hotkey, but your computer won’t start as fast.

Option 02 – Use Windows 10 Settings to enter the BIOS / UEFI

If you are using a Windows 10 computer, then the alternate method to access the BIOS is via Windows 10 Settings. As the amount of time during boot-up to press the BIOS hotkey is so fast, this method might be more preferable and less frustrating to most. But it does require some careful navigation.

Step 01: Access your Windows Settings

Open the “Start Menu” and click “Settings” (indicated by the cog symbol) on the left hand side. Or use the shortcut keys Windows + I.

Step 02: Select “Update & Security”

Step 03: Select “Recovery”

Step 04: Click “Restart now” under “Advanced start-up”

This will take you into a special menu with a few options. You can use the arrow keys or the cursor to navigate.

Step 05: Select “Troubleshoot”

Step 06: Select “Advanced options”

Step 07: Select “UEFI Firmware Settings”, then confirm “Restart”

This will restart into the system BIOS / UEFI.

If your operating system is Window 8.1 or Windows 8, this method should also work.

Option 03 – Use Start Menu to enter the BIOS / UEFI

A third method to access the BIOS, which is shorter than option 02 is to use the Start Menu.

Step 01: Open the “Start Menu”

Step 02: Select the “Power” button

Step 03: Hold “Shift” and click “Restart”

This will take you to a special menu with a few options. You can use the arrow keys or the cursor to navigate.

Step 04: Select “Troubleshoot”

Step 05: Select “Advanced options”

Step 06: Select “UEFI Firmware Settings”, then confirm “Restart”

This will restart into the system BIOS / UEFI.

How to enter the BIOS on Windows 7, Vista, and XP

To access the system BIOS on Windows 7, Vista and XP, you will need to do the same as the generic option previously mentioned above, by pressing a hotkey during boot-up.

Older operating systems tend to startup more slowly, so you should have more time to press the BIOS hotkey.

As mentioned at the start, some BIOS might give you the option to add a delay to the boot-up, to give you more time to press the hotkey.

So when you power on your computer, press the designated hotkey before your PC boots into the system.

Your computer may indicate which key to press during startup, otherwise, check out the list of common BIOS hotkeys above.

Step 01: Power on your computer or restart

Step 02: Press the BIOS hotkey during boot-up at the right time