Enter BIOS in Windows 11 Any Laptop or Pc
Windows 11, like its now many predecessors, allows users to customize the way they interact with their PC in a variety of ways. In this context, accessing the BIOS represents an important way to manage the startup of the operating system at will, even before it is actually functional.
The BIOS is an important program that houses a number of basic customizations, such as enabling secure boot or changing boot options and can be accessed in a variety of ways. But what exactly is it, how is it different from UEFI and how can you access it with Windows 11?
In this guide, we will try to clarify these questions.
What is BIOS?
The Basic Input/Output System, or BIOS, is a program installed on a small chip on your computer’s motherboard.
As the name suggests, it is a system that manages the flow of data between the operating system and hardware such as memory units, monitors, mice, and other peripherals. All to prepare the machine to start the OS.
This little piece of software also houses some settings and customization options that cannot be accessed from any other screen.
The exact BIOS layout may vary depending on the OEM and motherboard manufacturer. However, the options provided in all BIOS interfaces are more or less the same.
If you are wondering how to access the BIOS from Windows 11, it is good that you know how the methods that can be used are actually two very distinct ones.
Method 1: Press the BIOS key at the startup
One of the main ways to enter the BIOS is by pressing a designated key (such as F2, F10, F12, or Del ) during the boot phase. Here’s how to proceed more specifically:
- turn on the PC;
- at the first signs of the machine booting you repeatedly hit the BIOS key (there’s only a small window of opportunity where your keystroke needs to be registered and the BIOS to execute: if you see the Windows logo, it’s already too late).
This is the proven formula that has become the default way to enter BIOS for millions of users around the world. As mentioned above, the specific key may vary depending on the OEM or motherboard manufacturer.
Here is a list of some popular OEMs and their designated BIOS hotkeys:
- HP: F10
- Dell: F2 or F12
- Gigabyte , MSI , Zotac : Del
- Asus : Del , F10 or F9
- Acer: Del or F2
- Lenovo : F2 , Fn + F2 , F1 or Enter followed by F1
- Surface Pro: Press and hold Volume Up.
If this is your first time accessing the BIOS, it may take a couple of attempts before you are able to do it correctly and be able to access the appropriate screen.
Method 2: From the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)
Few know that, however, you can also access the BIOS screen from within Windows itself. For that, you’ll need to log into Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) first. Here are four methods to activate this tool.
Option 1: Access WinRE from Settings
Press Win + I to open the Settings app. With System selected in the left pane, scroll down to the right and click Recovery. Then click Restart now next to Advanced startup.
This will restart your PC and boot into the recovery environment. Once you’re in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), follow step 2 below to enter the BIOS.
Option 2: Enter WinRE from the power button
The restart button can be used as a shortcut to enter WinRE to enter BIOS. That’s how:
- Press Start and click the power button;
- then, holding down the Shift key, click Restart (alternatively, if you are on the login screen, click the power button);
- now, while holding down the Shift key, click Restart.
Upon restarting with the advanced setting as such, you will be taken directly to the Windows Recovery Environment. From here, the steps to enter the BIOS are the same as shown above.
Once you’re in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), you can go further to enter the BIOS.
Option 3: Access WinRE from Command Prompt (CMD)
A terminal app like Command Prompt or PowerShell can also be used to do an advanced boot to get to the BIOS. That’s how:
- Press Start ;
- type cmd, then click Command Prompt ;
- type the following command: shutdown /r /o ;
- hit Enter.
Once the system restarts, you will be at the WinRE screen. Follow the steps above to enter BIOS.
Option 4: Access WinRE via a shortcut
If you often access BIOS from Windows, creating a shortcut would be the wise thing to do to save some clicks. Here’s how to do it:
- right-click on the desktop, select New, then click Shortcut ;
- in the connection creation wizard, enter the following command in the field: shutdown /r /o ;
- then click Next ;
- give this shortcut a name, then click Done.
Now, whenever you need quick access to the recovery environment, just double-click this link.
Option 5: Access WinRE from Run
The Run window can also be used to restart your PC and access WinRE. To do this, press Win + R to open Run. Then type the same command we talked about earlier i.e. shutdown /r /o and then press Enter.
Method 3: Enter BIOS from Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)
Once you’re in Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), do this:
- Click Troubleshoot ;
- then Advanced Options ;
- now select UEFI Firmware Settings ;
- now click Restart.
Your PC will boot to the BIOS screen.
How to reset your BIOS
BIOS changes should be made with the utmost caution and with complete awareness of what you are doing. If you’ve made some changes that you want to undo, resetting the BIOS is a quick and easy fix. Here are a couple of ways to reset.
Note: You can also check your OEM’s website to know what to do with your specific motherboard.
With power button
Most modern systems have a built-in failsafe feature that lets you reset the BOIS if things go wrong. To use it, simply press and hold the power button for more than ten seconds.
For laptop users, press and hold the power button until the battery charging light turns off.
From the BIOS itself
A BIOS recovery can be done from within the BIOS if you can get in without problems. In the BIOS, look for an entry that sounds something like Load Setup Defaults and then run it by pressing Enter.
UEFI vs BIOS: What are the differences?
UEFI and BIOS are sometimes used interchangeably, and not without good reason: while both are interfaces that allow the operating system and hardware to interact with each other, they are different in other, more functional ways.
The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) can be seen as a step up from the previous Basic In/Out System (BIOS). UEFI is a modern version of the BIOS that has more memory, more features, and a wider variety of options.
UEFI also uses the GUID Partition Table ( GPT ) disk format, while BIOS uses the legacy Master Boot Record ( MBR ) format. The former is a much better system that frequently checks for disk corruption and, as you might guess, will soon replace the BIOS altogether.
How to check the BIOS version
If you want to check your BIOS version do this:
- Click on Start ;
- type cmd and press Enter ;
- now type the following command: wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion ;
- hit Enter.
This will show the BIOS version on the current computer.
Unable to enter BIOS on Windows 11: How to fix?
If you’re unable to access the BIOS in Windows 11, you may need to change a setting in the System Configuration app. Here’s how:
- Click on Start ;
- type msconfig and press Enter ;
- now, on the General tab, select Normal Startup and click OK.
In this section, we try to answer some frequently asked questions about BIOS and how it works.
Can I enter BIOS without rebooting?
The BIOS can only be accessed before the operating system boots. Therefore, even if you are not using the WinRE environment to reboot your system and enter the BIOS, you will still need to use the designated key during boot.
Is there really a hidden advanced menu in BIOS? If yes, how do you unlock it?
While there are some sources online that claim to have an advanced hidden menu in the BIOS, it is most likely just a rumor.
There is no secret menu in BIOS to access. While there is an Advanced screen in some cases, this is just an additional BIOS screen offered by the OEM.
Can I update my BIOS?
Yes, you can update your BIOS. To do this, you will need to know the version of the same (as indicated in this article), visit the manufacturer’s website, and download the latest update available for your BIOS version.
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