Start Cubase in Safe mode / Temporarily disable preferences

(Preamble: Yes, I know this is described in the manual, but it is much easier to bookmark this and paste it into a topic should it be required)

Sometimes when Cubase suddenly shows weird or inexplicable behaviour, it is a good idea to start Cubase with preferences disabled and see whether that solves the problem.

This is done by starting Cubase and immediately hitting the keys Ctrl-Shift-Alt (Windows) or Cmd-Shift-Opt (Mac). The following window should appear:

Now select “Disable program preferences” and click OK. This will temporarily disable the preferences, so your custom settings will be gone, but they will be restored on the next start of Cubase.
Then you can test whether the weird or inexplicable behaviour is gone.

If yes, it most likely means that the preferences are corrupted and you need to delete them (this is done by clicking “Delete Program preferences” in the Safe Mode Dialog.

That of course means that you have to customize your Cubase setup again, which is annoying. For that reason it is generally a good idea to make a backup copy of the Cubase preference folder if you have a working setup.
The location of the preference folder and its files is described here:



Sometimes it happens the preferences corruption happened in the previous Cubase version already. If there is no preferences folder for the given Cubase version (when you start it), Cubase searches for the older Cubase preferences folder (up to two major versions back). If Cubase finds an older preferences folder, it merges the old preferences to the new version. As said above, the issue could afford in the older preferences already. Therefore sometimes the solution is to (backup and…) delete all Cubase preferences folders.

Much better way is to use and backup the Profile of Cubase from the File menu.


Thanks Martin for your input!

I just tested this, if you chose “delete Preferences” from the Safe Mode Dialog, Cubase only seems to delete specific files in the folder and does not import them from previous versions, just creates newly initialized ones. I think that should be preferable as a first step, deleting the whole Preferences Folder should be a last resort for experienced users.

re: backup Profile: I don’t find that in the File menu, is that a Mac specific thing? Do you mean the “Profile Manager” under “Edit”? I admit that I never really looked at that as copy the whole Folder is just simpler for me :wink:

Maybe you could convert my post to a Wiki, so people could edit it in case something changes or someone has better solutions?


How did you test this, please? I’m 100% sure Cubase merges the previous preferences settings. If it’s not the case, it’s a bug.

Yes, I mean this. I forgot it has been moved since Cubase 10.5 or 11.

I don’t know how to do that and why to do that (we have the manual and this thread).

OK, I guess I cannot be 100% sure, as I don’t know the function is supposed to work and what it should transfer, but I tested like this:

  1. Click Delete Preferences from Safe Mode
  2. Delete the %APPDATA%\Steinberg\Cubase 12_64-Folder (I have a Cubase 11_64 folder still there)

There were several differences between those actions. Most obviously is that the defaults.xml after 1) is ~300kB in size (and e.g. doesn’t contain any ‘recently opened’ files) but after 2) it is the exact size of the C11-version: ~2MB).
No Audio connection presets from C11 are there after 1). Cubase asks me which ASIO-Driver to use after 1), but not after 2).
I also see no sign of Cubase ever accessing e.g. the defaults.xml in the C11-Folder in ProcessMonitor when doing 1)
My guess after further analyzing in ProcessMonitor is that the Safe Mode “Delete Preferences” just deletes the Defaults.xml and initializes an empty one. Which actually would make sense to me.


I have just tested.

Disable Preferences from the Safe Start Dialog:

  • Cubase creates Defaults.xml.backup file, what is backup of your original Defaults.xml file.
  • Only the Defaults.xml file becomes reset for the given time.
  • Once you quit Cubase, the Defaults.xml.backup file still remains, so you can decide what to do.
  • During the next start, if Cubase finds the Defaults.xml.backup file, it deletes the Defaults.xml file (which was just temporary) and renames the Defaults.xml.backup (your original Defaults) back to the Defaults.xml. So your original Defaults.xml is going to be used.

Delete Preferences from the Safe Start Dialog:

  • This creates most of the preferences XML files from scratch.
  • The Defaults (Trashed).xml file becomes created, so you can still come back to your original Defaults.xml file, if you need to.
  • Some files (like MediaFactoryDefaults, NamingSchemes, Vst2xPlugin…) remain from the previous preferences.
  • Once you quit Cubase, the Defaults (Trashed).xml file remains and new Defaults.xml file becomes created.

That means, you get factory settings of most of the XML files.

If you delete the preferences folder, Cubase behaves like during the very 1st start (after very 1st Cubase X installation):

  • The whole preferences folder is merged from the previous Cubase version(s), up to 2 versions back.
  • This is because Cubase wants to offer your custom settings if you buy (and install) new Cubase version. So it inherits the preferences of the previous Cubase.