Many paths lead to the BIOS. A simple keystroke at the right moment, while the system is booting, will take you to the BIOS. If you have a newer Windows computer, perhaps one that came with a UEFI BIOS, you can enter the BIOS more easily. To save your guesswork, we’ve rounded up all the different ways how you can get into the BIOS.
Note: Within the BIOS you can change many basic computer settings, such as boot order, system time and date, or enabled hardware components. That’s why BIOS (basic input/output system) is also known as “Settings”.
How to Enter UEFI BIOS
The new computer boots up too fast. As such, newer versions of Windows feature an easier way to access the BIOS, but you must first boot into Windows.
How to Enter BIOS in Windows 10
Go to Settings (Windows + I) > Update & Security > Recovery and under Advanced startup click Restart now. Note that this will actually restart your computer.
When restarting using advanced startup, you must first select a boot option. On the screen that appears, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings and click Restart, which will boot directly into your UEFI BIOS from Windows 10.
How to Enter BIOS Windows 8 or 8.1
In Windows 8.1, the steps are slightly different. Inside PC Settings, navigate to the Updates and Recovery tab, then open Recovery, and finally click Restart now under Advanced startup.
Or, hold down the Shift key while you click Restart in the Shut Down menu.
The computer will restart to the boot options, which include the UEFI BIOS. As in Windows 10, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings and click Restart to boot into your BIOS.
How to Enter BIOS on Older PCs
The Right Time to Enter BIOS
The right time is between turning on the computer and before the operating system is launched. This window is very narrow because the BIOS basically just initializes your hardware, before handing it over to the bootloader, which boots the operating system. Once the operating system starts up, often marked with the display of their respective logos, you miss the moment.
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You may see a message indicating a good time. It most likely says something like “Press
to Enter Settings”, which means it also reveals which key to press.
In the absence of such a message, the most appropriate moment is generally when you see the manufacturer’s logo, before booting the operating system. And the easiest way not to miss the time when you can enter the BIOS is to press the right button before you even turn on the computer and hold it until the BIOS appears. If that doesn’t work, you either didn’t press the right button or something broke.
Key to Enter Settings
Common keys to enter the BIOS are F1, F2, F10, Delete, Esc, as well as key combinations like Ctrl+Alt+Esc or Ctrl+Alt+Delete, though those are more common on older machines. Also note that a key like F10 might actually launch something else, like the boot menu. The exact key or key combination depends on the manufacturer and model of your computer.
You can continue with trial and error until you find the right key, press a few different keys at once and get lucky or check out the list below.
Acer BIOS key
On older computers, try F1 or the Ctrl + Alt + Esc key combination.
If your computer is equipped with an ACER BIOS, you can restore the BIOS to bootable settings by pressing and holding the F10 key. After you hear the two beeps, the settings have been restored.
Asus BIOS key
As with Acer, the most common key is F2.
Depending on your model, it might also be a Delete or Insert button, and less often F10.
Dell BIOS key
Or, try F1, Delete, F12, or even F3.
Older models might use Ctrl + Alt + Enter or Delete or Fn + Esc or Fn + F1.
HP BIOS key
On some HP computers F1, F2, F6, or F11 will open the gateway to the BIOS.
On an HP Tablet PC F10 or F12 will take you to the BIOS.
HP has compiled information about its BIOS here.
Lenovo BIOS key
Older hardware may require the Ctrl + Alt + F3 or Ctrl + Alt + Enter key or Fn + F1 key combination.
If you have a ThinkPad, check out this Lenovo resource: how to access the BIOS on a ThinkPad.
MSI BIOS Keys
If you know that your computer uses an MSI motherboard, then the key to triggering the BIOS is most likely the Delete key. You might even see a message that says “Press Del to enter SETUP”. On some MSI motherboard models, the key to access the BIOS is F2.
Sony BIOS key
If your VAIO has an ASSIST key, try pressing and holding it while you turn on the laptop. This also works if your Sony VAIO came with Windows 8.
Toshiba BIOS key
Other candidates include F1 and Esc.
On the Toshiba Equium, F12 will enter the BIOS.
Toshiba also has more detailed instructions on how to access the BIOS.
Unfortunately, there is little consistency. Computer manufacturers also don’t always use the same motherboard manufacturer or motherboard manufacturers consistently define the same key to enter the BIOS. If you want a definitive answer as to which key to press to enter Settings, you have to look for the exact model of your computer’s motherboard.
If none of the keys mentioned above work, the problem might be with your keyboard or rather a lack of keyboard drivers before the computer started up. Try another keyboard and/or port. For example, if you use a USB keyboard, but your PC also has a PS/2 port, try a PS/2 keyboard instead.
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