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Common Nintendo Switch problems and how to fix them

Get back to gaming with these easy solutions.
By
November 22, 2022
Nintendo Switch Header 14
Curtis Joe / Android Authority

The Nintendo Switch is a popular gaming console, with its hybrid nature making it an ideal travel partner. You can play games on your TV as you would using any other console or enjoy gaming on the tablet-sized display while on the go. The slew of Nintendo exclusives and a bunch of excellent free games also contribute to the growing popularity of the handheld console. But like any tech, the Nintendo Switch isn’t without its share of bugs and glitches. We look at some common Nintendo Switch problems and how to fix them.

See also: How to download games on the Nintendo Switch


Problem #1: Blinking green light on the Nintendo Switch dock

dock the nintendo switch itself to make the connection
Curtis Joe / Android Authority

The Nintendo Switch dock lets you connect the handheld console to a TV, enjoy games on the big screen, and simultaneously charge the Switch. A green LED on the dock shows that it has established a connection with the TV. Some users say that the green light blinks instead of being steady. When this happens, the Switch doesn’t charge anymore, and the dock loses connection with the TV.

Potential solutions:

  • This could just be a power issue. Disconnect the HDMI and charging cables from the dock and remove the charger from the wall socket. Wait at least 30 seconds before you try to reconnect everything and see if the dock starts to work. You should also check whether the charging and HDMI cables are torn or frayed. You should replace the cables if you see any damage.
  • Undock the Switch and check for any software updates in the Settings menu. Restart the console after you update it by pressing and holding the power button for three seconds and selecting Power options > Restart.
  • You can confirm whether it’s a dock issue by plugging the charger directly into the console. If the Switch charges, you might have a malfunctioning dock. Unfortunately, the only option is to get a replacement. Amazon has a few affordable replacements, but we recommend getting the official dock from Nintendo for the safest experience.

Problem #2: Problems with the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

The Nintendo Switch comes with a pair of Joy-Cons that work together as a single controller or can be as dual controllers with certain games. Unless you have the Switch Pro Controller, the Joy-Cons are the primary way to play games on the Switch. Unfortunately, users have reported multiple problems with them, like Joy-Con drift and the left Joy-Con disconnecting frequently.

Potential solutions:

  • Nintendo Switch users have suffered from Joy-Con drift problems since the very beginning. This is evident when your on-screen characters or the cursor seem to move or drift to the side without any input. This mainly occurs when there is a build-up of dust and debris under the joystick or if the contact point erodes from regular wear and tear.
    • The first thing you can try is updating the controllers. Go to System settings > Controllers and sensors > Update controllers and ensure that you’re running the latest update.
    • A calibration issue might cause Joy-Con drift as well. Go to System settings > Controllers and sensors > Calibrate control sticks and go through the re-calibration process. If the joystick works as expected, you should see a green cross in the middle of the crosshairs and an off-center green circle when you move it around. Press X to calibrate the controller if you don’t see the green cross at the center.
    • Since the Joy-Con drift problem is so prevalent, especially if you have an older Switch version, Nintendo offers free repairs and replacements. Contact customer service to set up a repair for your accessories.
  • The Joy-Con joysticks might not work as expected because of a build-up of dust and debris under the stick. You can try a home remedy, but I’d still suggest sending the controller for repair or getting a replacement. If you’re willing to take the risk, ensure you use the correct product for the cleaning spray, like the WD-40 Special Electrical Contact Cleaner. Hold the joystick to the side with your thumb and slowly lift the rubber under the stick with the straw of the spray. Use a few quick presses of the spray to clear debris and hold the controller on its side to remove any particles. Wait until the contact point is completely dry before using the controller again.
  • If you have an older Switch version, you might notice that the left Joy-Con keeps disconnecting. This is a known hardware issue, and Nintendo will repair or replace the Joy-Con.

Problem #3: The Switch freezes frequently or is unresponsive

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

Some users say that their Switch freezes while playing a game or becomes completely unresponsive.

Potential solutions:

  • Press the home button to exit a game to check whether it’s a problem with the game or the device itself. If the console takes you back to the home screen, it’s a game issue. Users say that restarting the console and the game fixes the problem temporarily. The only other option is to wait for a device or game software update.
  • You can perform a soft reboot if the Switch is unresponsive. Press and hold the power button for 15 seconds or until the device reboots.
  • Cached files might cause performance problems. Go to System settings > System > Formatting options > Clear cache and choose what you want to delete. Remember that this will erase saved accounts, passwords, cookies, history, and other cached website data. You don’t have to worry about downloaded games or game save data, though.
  • A few users say that just plugging the Switch into the dock and removing it helps unfreeze the device.
  • As a last resort, you might have to factory reset the device if the screen is flashing or the device is unresponsive. Hold the volume up and down keys when the console is off and press the power button. Keep holding all three buttons until you see Maintenance Mode. To retain your game saves, you can try Initialize console without deleting save data. To completely wipe the device, including game save files, select Initialize console > Continue. A factory reset will also unlink your Nintendo account from the Switch.

Problem #4: Unable to use two-factor authentication to log in to the Nintendo account

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

Users who have set up two-factor authentication sometimes face problems logging in to their Nintendo accounts on the Switch.

Potential solutions:

  • One of the advantages of the handheld console is that it’s an excellent travel companion. Trying to log in to your account in a different time zone might cause problems with two-factor authentication, though. Open the Google Authenticator app, tap on the three vertical dots icon at the top right corner, and go to Settings. Select Time correction for codes > Sync now to set the app to a new time zone.
  • If you don’t have access to the device with Google Authenticator, you will need to use a backup code during the verification process. You can’t log in to your account without the Authenticator app or a backup code. Contact customer support for help if you don’t have either.

Problem #5: The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have enough space for games

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

The Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite come with 32GB of built-in storage, while the Switch OLED doubles that. With 8GB the average game size, and some are much larger, the console doesn’t provide enough space for a large library of games.

Potential solutions:

  • You can delete games you don’t play anymore to make space, but that’s not an ideal solution.
  • The good news is that all Switch versions come with expandable storage, and you can get some excellent microSD cards for the console. In fact, some games specifically require a microSD card to work.
  • Once you get a microSD card, go to System settings > Data management > Move data between system/microSD card and choose the games and files you want to store. If you plan to use an older microSD card, Nintendo recommends using the SD Card Memory Formatter and selecting Overwrite format to wipe the card.

Problem #6: The Nintendo Switch has a warped body or scratched display

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

The Switch’s plastic build isn’t the best quality and is susceptible to physical damage. Quite a few users have noticed a warped body around the display section and scratches on the screen.

Potential solutions:

  • You can check for warping around the display section by removing the Joy-Cons and laying the Switch on a flat surface with the screen facing down. It shouldn’t wobble unless it’s warped. Users say that this doesn’t really impact their gaming experience. However, it might become bad enough that the Joy-Cons no longer fit properly. In either case, the only option is to send the device for repair.
  • The plastic screen of the Switch is quite prone to scratches. Many users see scratches on the screen while connecting and disconnecting the console from the dock. You can avoid this problem by being careful while docking the Switch. We also recommend getting a screen protector and a travel case to keep the device safe. There are plenty of other Nintendo Switch accessories that are worth checking out as well.

Next: What to do if your Nintendo Switch won’t turn on