The Basic Input / Output System (BIOS) is the initial low-level code that allows your PC to start correctly when first powered on. Some PC users will be familiar with the instructions for pressing a key during boot to access the BIOS, but Windows 10 provides an easier way to enter the BIOS menu.
This is especially true if your computer is using the newer Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) menu as a BIOS replacement. Instead of hitting the keyboard a few times when you first start up your computer, you can directly enter the BIOS. Here’s how to enter BIOS in Windows 10 and earlier operating systems.
BIOS, UEFI BIOS, Legacy + UEFI: Which BIOS do you have?
Older computers had only one type of low-level firmware that was responsible for starting a PC – BIOS. For modern PCs, there are two types of firmware interfaces, as well as a third, hybrid type that you may encounter.
First is the BIOS itself – the original, sometimes referred to as the legacy BIOS to distinguish it from UEFI. It has some limitations, including the inability to recognize bootable discs larger than 2.1 TB. This is required for older operating systems such as Windows XP.
This is why modern PCs have switched to UEFI (or UEFI BIOS) as a replacement for the old text-based BIOS interface. This allows for faster boot times by storing startup information in a dedicated EFI partition on your disk. It also supports larger drives, more disk partitions, and has an improved mouse menu.
You can also see Legacy + UEFI (or Legacy / UEFI) mentioned in some BIOS / UEFI menus. This acts as a preliminary check that determines what type of system drive you have and whether to use UEFI or an older legacy BIOS to start your PC.
If you are not sure if you are using UEFI or legacy BIOS on your PC, look for your BIOS version, refer to the user manual for your PC or motherboard, or try the following steps to enter BIOS in Windows 10 and find out for yourself.
How to enter BIOS in Windows 10
Instead of trying to access the UEFI BIOS menu by quickly pressing a key on your keyboard when you first boot your computer, you can boot directly into it if you are using Windows 10. You can only do this if your computer is using UEFI and not legacy BIOS version – For older PCs or Windows versions, follow the instructions in the next section.
- To access the UEFI settings, you need to go to the Windows 10 settings menu. Right-click the start menu button and select Settings.
- From the Windows Settings menu, select Update & Security> Recovery. On the Recovery tab, click the Restart Now button in the Advanced Startup section.
- This will boot Windows 10 into the Advanced Startup menu. From here select the “Troubleshoot” option.
- Under Troubleshooting, click Advanced Options.
- In the Advanced Options menu, click the UEFI Firmware Settings button. This will load your UEFI settings menu.
If you don’t see an option for UEFI firmware settings, your computer is likely using an outdated BIOS version As we mentioned, you can only follow these steps for new computers with UEFI firmware.
This will be the case with most modern Windows 10 computers, but if you are using an older computer with an outdated BIOS version, you will need to follow these steps.
How to enter the BIOS menu or the UEFI menu in older versions of Windows
Although the legacy BIOS has been replaced by UEFI on most modern PCs, some users can still use it. This is especially true if you are trying to use an old computer with an operating system such as Windows 7 or Windows XP.
Unfortunately, there is no built-in option to boot into the BIOS menu using Windows – you have to do it manually.
Things can get complicated here. To do this, you will need to interrupt the boot sequence when you first turn on your computer. This is usually done by pressing a specific key on the keyboard, but different manufacturers use different keys for this.
You can usually tell which key to press (very quickly) during boot if the BIOS instructions are displayed. If they are not, or you cannot find them in time, consult your PC or motherboard user manual to find the correct key.
You can also try some of the common keys like ESC, Delete, F1, F2, F10, or F12. You will need to press this key (possibly more than once) when starting your computer. If you fail, shut down your computer and try again.
What to do if you cannot access the BIOS menu
This should be an easy process if you know how to enter BIOS in Windows 10. However, if you still can’t access the BIOS or UEFI BIOS menus, you might have to look at what’s stopping you.
Check your system settings and if you are trying to access an outdated BIOS menu try pressing the keys several times until you find one that works. If an old BIOS password was set on your computer (or you set it yourself) and you cannot remember it, you will need to reset the password first.
If you need access to the UEFI BIOS but are unable to boot into Windows, interrupt the Windows boot sequence approximately three times. This will load the Windows Troubleshooter menu where you can boot into UEFI by following the steps listed above.
If all else fails, the last resort should be to restore the BIOS settings to default, which should help you gain access.