How to Perform a Hard Reset on Your Nintendo 3DS

What to do when your 3DS is locked up and won't work

Picture of a Nintendo 3DS

Minh Hoang /Flickr / CC 2.0

Like any computer, tablet, or other handheld video game console, the Nintendo 3DS can periodically crash or lock up, preventing you from using it. Performing a hard reset on the 3DS usually provides an easy fix, but you might have to do some additional troubleshooting if you continue having problems.

This article applies to all models of the Nintendo 3DS including the 3DS XL and 2DS.

How to Hard Reset a Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS.
Minh Hoang/Flickr/CC 2.0

If your device freezes while you're in the middle of playing a game:

  1. Press and hold down the Power button until the 3DS turns off. This may take about 10 seconds.

  2. Press the Power button again to turn the 3DS back on.

In most cases, this will solve the problem, and you can return to playing your game.

A hard reset does not restore the 3DS back to its default settings. A hard reset is simply a reboot, which is different from a factory reset.

Check for Updates to the Nintendo eShop Software

If the 3DS continues freezing only when you use one specific game or application, go to the eShop and check for an update:

If you're having trouble accessing the eShop, then you may need to reset the PIN on your 3DS.

  1. On the bottom screen, tap the shopping cart icon on the home menu to open the Nintendo eShop.

  2. In the eShop, tap Menu in the top-left corner of the screen.

  3. Scroll down and select Settings / Other.

  4. In the History section, tap Updates.

  5. Look for your game or app. If you see Update Available above it, tap Download or Update and follow the on-screen prompts.

If you already installed the most current update, try deleting the app or game and downloading it again to see if that fixes the issue. See what to do if the update fails.

Previously purchased games and apps on the 3DS can be downloaded again at no cost.

Use the Nintendo 3DS Download Repair Tool

When all else fails, use the Nintendo 3DS Download Software Repair Tool:

  1. On the bottom screen, tap the shopping cart icon on the home menu to open the Nintendo eShop.

  2. In the eShop, tap the Menu icon at the top of the screen.

  3. Scroll and select Settings / Other.

  4. In the History section, select Redownloadable Software.

  5. Tap Your Downloads at the very bottom of the screen.

  6. Locate the game you want to repair and tap Software Info under it.

  7. Scroll down and tap Repair Software, then tap OK to check for errors. You can choose to repair the software even if no errors are found.

  8. When the software check is finished, tap OK and Download to start the repair. The software download does not overwrite any saved data.

  9. To finish, tap Continue and the Home button.

If you're still having issues, contact Nintendo's customer service department for further assistance.