Everything You Need to Know About “Safe Mode” on a Jailbroken iPhone

By , Feb 14, 2011

Did you know that the iPhone had a “Safe Mode?” Safe Mode on the iPhone has been apart of jailbreaking for years now, but many people still don’t understand it. If your iPhone is jailbroken, Safe Mode will be invoked when MobileSubstrate (the Cydia support framework) crashes.

Desktop operating systems, like Windows and Mac OS X, have had a “Safe Mode” for a long time. On the desktop, safe mode is used for removing corrupted processes that may be causing the operating system to not function properly.

The iPhone has a “Safe Mode” for that exact same reason. A simple Cydia app called “Safe Mode Launcher” allows you to invoke the iPhone’s Safe Mode with one tap. Let’s take a look…

The official description of Safe Mode Launcher,

“A simple utility to put your device into MobileSubstrate Safe Mode. You now no longer have to have SBSettings to put your device into Safe Mode! Useful if you want to uninstall a troublesome MobileSubstrate Addon.

This will install a new icon on your home screen. There are no options to configure.”

In SBSettings, Safe Mode can be initiated through the “Power” option. Safe Mode is listed alongside all of the other Power options.



Safe Mode Launcher sits as an icon on your home screen and boots your iPhone into Safe Mode with one tap. Once Safe Mode is running, you are safe to troubleshoot or delete MobilSubstrate addons that may be causing you trouble.

You may still be wondering why Safe Mode is important. A jailbroken iPhone boots into Safe Mode whenever a jailbreak extension is causing iOS to not work properly.

As you’ll notice in the Safe Mode menu, MobileSubstrate invokes Safe Mode to protect you from harmful processes running on your iPhone. For example, a newly installed jailbreak tweak could be (either intentionally or not) tampering with root files that could cause your build of iOS to be corrupted.

Once you jailbreak your iPhone, whether through SSH or other means, jailbreak extensions and addons have access to the root files of iOS. That can result in the occasional conflict when an extension oversteps its bounds or does not function the way it should at the root level.

If your iPhone has been entering Safe Mode frequently, you most likely have a MobileSubstrate addon that is not functioning properly. Safe Mode disables all jailbreak extensions, addons, etc. so that you can either troubleshoot or remove the process that you think may be causing the issue.

Safe Mode is pretty easy to boot back out of. Once your iPhone is in Safe Mode, you can reboot back to normal by tapping the “Restart” option in the MobileSubstrate menu. If you can’t find the menu, tap the “Exit Safe Mode” text at the top center of the iPhone’s status bar. A hard restart of iOS with the iPhone’s power button should disable Safe Mode too.

If it takes multiple attempts to get your iPhone out of Safe Mode, you have a serious problem. Remove or disable all of the jailbreak processes you can to see which is causing the problem.

Safe Mode isn’t pretty, and sadly it’s a symptom of jailbreaking that we all have to deal with. The good thing is that Safe Mode is there to protect your iPhone from harmful processes, so don’t get mad next time your Springboard crashes. Instead, by thankful that Cydia’s MobileSubstrate is smart enough to know when to protect you from a problem.

Safe Mode Launcher is available for free in the Cydia store. Give it a try if you want the freedom to safely troubleshoot your jailbroken iPhone.

Has your iPhone ever entered Safe Mode? Have you been experiencing the problem of your Springboard regularly crashing? If so, check your installed Cydia packages to try and find the culprit.

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  • Shrike1978

    “Once you jailbreak your iPhone, whether through SSH or other means, jailbreak extensions and addons have access to the root files of iOS.
    [...]
    Safe Mode disables all jailbreak extensions, addons, etc. so that you can either troubleshoot or remove the process that you think may be causing the issue.”

    This is not entirely true. The whole point of MobileSubstrate is to allow extensions to modify running code on the system explicitly without actually modifying the files. The extension tells MobileSubstrate what command or event that it wants to hook, and when that event occurs, MobileSubstrate intercepts it and modifies the code being executed using code from the extension instead. That allows developers to hook into core functionality very easily, and more importantly, very safely, since the actual code on disk is not being modified at all. When the system crashes due to code in a MobileSubstrate extension, MobileSubstrate will start in Safe Mode, in which no extensions are loaded. Luckily, most things that can be MobileSubstrate extensions are, but the few things that aren’t and actually do modify files on the system aren’t helped by Safe Mode anyway.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Andreas-Stephenson/1032383246 Peter Andreas Stephenson

      well in my case i tried on a new theme 3D theme it was called and my phone immediately whent into safe mode, i pressed a dozen time the restart and an other dozen times tried to reboot it i nearly restored it but then i was checking my menu and noticed that winterboard had an icon so i pressed it and changed the menu so i suggest checking your menu finding the program and simply deleting it, it might help solve the problem or it was just my lucky day, still hope you fix it 8)

  • http://www.iphonedownloadblog.com Alex

    Thanks for the informative comment! That’s good info to know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffwilliamsideas jeffreyw

    I go into safe mode every time i restart my phone. How do i know if a file in cydia is a mobilesubstrate addon? Should i delete files in the add-ons category?

    • Shrike1978

      I have had times in the past where a reboot would trigger safe mode every time, but I’ve never worried too much about it as long as exiting safe mode worked. The only sure fire way to see everything that is MobileSubstrate related is to go into Cydia, go to your package list, select MobileSubstrate, and choose remove. As long as you don’t confirm, it won’t actually delete anything, but it will automatically select all extensions for removal give you a full list of everything it’s going to do.

      • Dan

        Power off the phone by holding power and home button. Then hold the up volume button and hit the power button to restart the phone. Let the power button go and continue to hold the up volume button until your phone starts. Then uninstall the cydia package that caused the freeze up.

  • Doug

    Everytime I power off or restart my phone it first goes into safe mode. Is this common for a jailbtoken phone. My phone has never gone into it for any other reason. Do I have a corrupt cydia package?

    • KillarTridentz

      Yup.

  • Doug

    Everytime I power off or restart my phone it first goes into safe mode. Is this common for a jailbroken phone. My phone has never gone into it for any other reason. Do I have a corrupt cydia package?

    • Shrike1978

      It’s something that mine has done from time to time since MobileSubstrate has been out. It depends on your particular combo of extensions, and as long as you can bring it out of safe mode and have it run without crashing, it’s nothing to really be concerned with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffwilliamsideas Jeffreyw

    Thanks, Shrike1978. That is great information to know. Ill give it a try.

  • Mena

    Everytime I apply a new masks from the Masks app (Cydia) that was advertised here a few days back, my phone goes into safemode after I repsring. Very annoying and makes me not want to use the app.

    • Me

      Wow! i have exactly the same problem!

    • SoCoMagNuM

      i also had that same problem not to mention if i install a new app (cydia oe app store0 or update an app from the app store thats within a folder it kicks app out folder and sends it to the last springboard page AND sends my phone into safe mode after it installs, pretty annoying so i removed masks and all works well again. hope they can fix that bug.

  • http://www.cellsworth.com DaCeige

    Is there a way to put the phone in safemode on the initial boot of the os. Such as if one installed the android lock ontop of the os lock?

  • Fee

    Just wanted people to know that due to some Cydia upgrades I had to restore my iPhone 4.
    I just installed 4.2.1 and Greenp0ison. Added a lot of Cydia stuff and went into safe mode loop.
    Started deleting stuff one by one until I noticed things got better when I removed Sinful Iphone RepoPrep (and AppSync, Installous4 and NoSpot as they had a RepoPrep requisite).
    Before the restoration I was running 4.0.1 with jailbreakme.com and had no troubles with Installous and Sinful repo.
    Just installed Installous 4 from Hackulo.us repo and am having no troubles at all. For all I know it might have been that NoSpot alone that was causing the error, but I’m too lazy to check if it was that.
    For now I guess I’ll try to steer clear of any Sinful stuff.

  • Fee

    Bah.. Too early. After doing some toggles and stuff from SBSettings I got into crashing once more.

  • iphoner

    greenpois0n 4.2.1 iphone 4 – always goes into safemode when rebooting is this just part of the untethered jb? also bootup takes long ass time is this normal???? i have no problem respringing out of safe mode so not a huge issue just wondering if there is a fix or if it’s just part of this jailbreak.

  • Pat

    I downloaded the safe mode launcher and for some reason my iphone won’t exit safe mode now. this app keeps booting my phone into safe mode any help?

    • Phillip

      Your best luck would be to enter “safe mode” , go to cydia, and delete the package.

  • Nick

    I jailbraked with green poison.after i sychronized with tunes, I try to make a call and every time iPhone runs in safe mode. Please help

  • sam

    i have jailbreak my i phone 4 4.2.1 with greenpoison now every time i become a sms the phone goes into safe mode y is that have i done something wrong or is it normal

    • karma

      i have the same problem have you found a solution?

  • http://sldjfsdlkjfwlsdkjfsldf.com john

    just delete anything you installed recently on cydia then it will work it happend to me for sure.

  • bab11

    Hi all
    I manged to get out of safe mode throught iphone ps suite the uninstalling last app in installed from cydia. However, when the iphone went into Safe Mode I lost the orignal “icons” -not data- like (contacts, SMS, clainder and the camira in addition to the cydia and ifile icons.

    I could not find away to show these icons yet…!!!
    Any idea….?

  • http://iphonedownloadblog.com Becky Fletcher

    I have jailbroken 4.2.1 iphone. Been great. Downloaded a movie from unlimmovies. Battery very low. Recharge. Main screens OK but when I try to enter ANY app the screen shrinks to upper left quadrant and touch is inaccurate. Background is visible on rest of screen. Also phone will not hang up calls anymore. Have tried turning on/off and reboot with no change. I am hesitant to hook up to itunes in case it’s a virus causing this don’t want to crash computer too. Anyone had a similar issue or have any ideas on how to fix? Thx very much

    Becky

  • http://www.midnightspin.com Mike

    Anybody else find that their phone runs a lot smoother in Safe Mode? Crashing aside, it just seems like the processing speed is higher.

  • Josh

    Suggestion: DON’T download cracked apps from Cydia from unreliable repos.I know they look the same as the paid version, but trust me, they aren’t. STAY AWAY from repos like HackYouriPhone and SinfulIphoneRepo: unless you’re REALLY lucky, they are most likely to CRASH your iPhone.
    Based on my experience, don’t download the Free version of Springtomize from HackYourIphone.
    It’s not fun when you spend 6hs (literally) trying to find out a way to bring your iPhone back to life. Believe me you’ll even want to give up, unless you are really persistent. Yes, SafeMode is safe and faster, but it’s not the iPhone, is it?

  • Stian

    I had the exact same problem as you guys. DO AS JOHN SAYS!! Remove ANY recently installed apps. In my case the biteSMS app turned out to be the problem. Although I thought it was Dreamboard.

    Exit Safe Mode is gone, and my old clock is back on the statusbar.

    • Austin osborn

      Hey I just did the jailbreakme.com or whatever and everything is cool untill I get dream board and it works but if I hit the home button on my phone it showed the white apple and restarts and gets out of the htc mode?!?!? Help?

  • Timmy

    I just dealt with this . It didn’t give me any option to restart or leave safe mode it just crashed my iPod and left it on the apple screen when every once in a while it would go black white apple logo really fast on the screen . If that happens to you hold the home button and hard restart then connect to iTunes . It worked I’m using my iPod now . I loved the jailbreak but I might not do it again , it was my first time and I’m just too worried , gonna just wait for a cooler iOS I guess . Good luck guys !

  • Timmy

    Stian my problem was the dreamboard lol I turn it on and BAM it’s on safe mode for 1 min and then my iPod kills itself like I said

  • Linda

    What if I leave it in safe mode?

  • Raj

    My iPhone 4 has in safe mode by crashing spring board plz help me

  • Cj

    Ok, so my itouch went into safemode after updating a few cydia apps. I went to delete them but cydia dissapeared. I cant find it in the spotlight search or anything, please help

  • Jager mitchell

    When you safe mode is on, and you go to cydia to find which add-on is the “culprit”. How do you tell who the “culprit” is?

  • michael

    My iphone just enter to safe mode, i know that i setup some tweak in setting into my iphone but how can i enter to the cydia setting in the iphone???

  • Giles

    Trust me guys … it is damn near ALWAYS the last thing installed via Cydia.

    For me it was ‘PhotoAlbums +’ – Instead of removing I simply re-installed! :-)

    Bingo!!

  • http://www.konpavlos.net tootche

    hi all
    i was wondering if safe mode is the same thing as a not jailbroken iphone?

  • http://google joelle

    i have the same problem , i got into safe mode several times and when restarting my iphone i loose all my contacts

  • bleh

    winterboard is mi problem:[ no themes 4 me!!!!!

  • liz

    i just installed ilocalis on my ipad and it updated a few things now my ipad has been rebooting and gone all weird! and once it reboots i tried to go into cydia to delete package but everytime i touch any app it will reboot again. any help? i’m really having a bad day…my iphone 4 was also stolen yesterday now i’m sad! please help me

  • http://www.dansgames.co.uk Daniel

    Hello ive got a few tips for people having problems.

    1. If your ipod/iphone go’s into safe mode go into cydia and remove the last thing you installed. but if your ipod crashes because of dreamboard/winterboad then go into cydia and delete the theme you tried to use before it crashed.

    2. if your ipod wont start up and you WANT to go into safe mode to remove the thing that crashed your iDevice then you cant. but there is a way of fixing it WITHOUT restoring. you will need to install ifunbox on your PC or Mac then use that to remove the app/theme that crashed your device.

    By using these 2 tips you SHOULD be able to get your iPod back the way it should be.

    • http://www.facebook.com/LauraLee444 Laura Hanson

      You fixed it. My son’s iPod touch has been greyed out for months now and your tips fixed it!!! Thank you so so much!! :D

      • jorgiee valdez

        actually you don’t need any program to fix an ipod thats crashed you can easily turn it on with the power key and hold the volume up key till it starts up again then go into cydia and delete any tweak theme etc.. that may have cause your ipod to crash

    • tartooob

      Thank you a lot, I fixed my iPhone 5 with the help of you and ifunbox

  • Hafeez(imran) Khan

    thanks for the help… em facing this problem again and again just now solved it..
    one more thing i wana knw is when ever my iphone 3gs is resarting or if i switch off and when i turn on ma iphone its taking too much time to turn on…. any solution for that thankyou

  • http://www.facebook.com/sueczirkle Sue Zirkle

    anyone know how to run safe-mode ALL the time? It’s the only time my phone will run nicely!!

    • KillarTridentz

      You should probably remove all of your packages and reinstall them one by one. This will mean better reliability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1572512395 Arkhu Zeon

    i got my iphone in safe mode and then i left it in same condition and i go for sleep at night, when i wake up in morning i found that my iphone was switched of, it may be because of low battery. i put it in charge and after that it does not pass apple logo. it continously shows apple logo for few minutes and after some times white light flashes and iphone restarts again and the same cycle goes on and on.. how to take my iphone to normal condition.. please help me. i am using iphone 3G running on iOS 4.0.
    thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/henriclastout Henric Jansson

    I WANT TO UPDATE THIS TOPIC!
    —————————————
    If you have SBSettings, just go to MORE and then scroll down to “Mobile Substrate Addons”

    There you have all the Stuff that might affect your safe mode. Try and deactivate the latest you installed, and it will automatically respring when you exit SBSettings. Be Careful Though!
    I use that very often when i temporarily want to disable some plugins that affect battery levels…
    —————————————
    YOUR WELCOME!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Abdulla.Zombie.farm Abdulla Al-s

    hello i have downloaded the app locker and it have locked all my apps without setting the password and i need to go to safe mode i could not do any of the things you have mentioned

  • Anonymous

    Hey guys i could really use your help!! I have an iphone 3G that i can barely use, i mean i can’t download or install an app because the iphone thn goes into safe mode, same thing when i receive a message while i’m surfing on the net, can someone please tell me how i could fix this problem ??

    • KillarTridentz

      Remove all of your packages, then go through and install the ones you REMEMBER.

  • Anonymous

    Hey guys i could really use your help!! I have an iphone 3G that i can barely use, i mean i can’t download or install an app because the iphone thn goes into safe mode, same thing when i receive a message while i’m surfing on the net, can someone please tell me how i could fix this problem ??

  • Corey Buller

    my apps only open in safe mode why is this

  • Katt

    i bought an iphone online and it can already set up but if i am on the internet and i get a text or a phone call if i try to answer or reply it goes into safe mode, i dont know what is on the phone that would mess it up it came with the previous owners downloads…also my app store will not let me download anything it says this app is not compatible with this iphone why is that? help me please

  • http://twitter.com/lambaline Mike Chu

    To see what’s causing a crash check out crashreporter

  • Arthur C

    I am not used to jailbreak… I have dreamboard on iPhone 4 with OS X Lion Ultimatum. Whenever I lock then unlock my iphone it will go into Safe Mode… Because I know what’s causing it to go into Safe Mode so I remove it and exit safe mode………………. -> later i try to reinstall the same file and it will not work(some type of error…) Can I please get ANY help with this?? I am currently clueless on how to reinstall it.

  • 611sg .

    I know what is causing the crash, but I need the apps and the sad thing is that the apps causing the crash are not jailbreaks . I got Talkatone and Facebook they make my iPhone 4S go into safe mode only when my phone is locked in sleep mode and one of the apps sends a Notification, like a text or a phone call. How do I fix that?