How to Connect a Switch Controller

Sync up your Nintendo Switch controller and start playing games

So many choices!

The Nintendo Switch has a veritable rainbow of different controllers to chose from, from the Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller to even a Pokeball controller. Thankfully, connecting them to your Switch is easy and can be done in a few different ways. Starting with Joy-Cons, learn how to connect a Switch controller.

Connect the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controller

The absolute easiest way to get your Switch to pair with a new Joy-Con (doesn’t matter if you’re syncing one or a pair) is to simply slide them onto the sides of your Switch where Joy-Cons tend to live. Dock them and the Switch automatically syncs with them. 

Joy-cons

But, there are times when direct connections might not be ideal—such as when you need to suddenly add new Joy-Cons to a frantic game of Super Mario Party and don’t want to pull the Switch out of the dock.

  1. Press the Home button on your controller to return to the Home Screen, then select the Controllers icon.

    Controllers icon on Switch home screen
  2. From there, tap Change Grip and Order.

    Change Grip/Order
  3. This is the menu where you’ll generally add any new controller (Nintendo or third-party). Hold down the small sync button on the black ridge of the Joy-Con for at least a second. The lights next to the sync button will start flashing.

  4. Follow the visual instructions and press the L and R shoulder buttons.

    Change Grip/Order menu
  5. The Switch will detect the Joy-Cons and assign them to a player slot.

If you’re syncing a single Joy-Con for play, you have to press down the SL and SR buttons on the black ridge at the “top” of the controller (when holding it horizontally) that would normally be hidden when it’s slotted into your Switch. If you’re using both of them (in ‘dual-grip’ mode), press the big L shoulder button on the left Joy-Con and the big R shoulder button on the right one.

How to Sync Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons Using Charging Grip

The final syncing option is for gamers who have the Joy-Con Charging Grip, which is the more expensive version of the Grip that came with your Switch. The Charging Grip has a USB-C port to charge the Joy-Cons slotted into it. So, slide those new Joy-Cons in, connect it to the Switch via a USB charging cable, and the Switch will automatically pair with both Joy-Cons.

How to Connect Pro Controller to Switch

There are two ways to connect your Switch Pro controller, although they’re largely identical to syncing the Joy-Cons. The first and easiest is just plugging the Pro into your Switch with the connected USB charging cable. The Switch will automatically pair with the Pro.

The Pro

The second, exactly like the Joy-Con process, involves using the Controllers settings.

  1. From the Home Screen, select Controllers, then select Change Grip/Order.

  2. Press and hold the Sync button on top of the Pro controller until the four lights on the bottom of the pad start blinking.

  3. When you see the pad appear on the screen in one of the numbered squares, press the L and R shoulder buttons at the same time, and you’re good to go.

Syncing Switch Controllers to PC, MAC, or Android

One surprising feature of both the Joy-Cons and the Pro controller is you can use them on other platforms that support Bluetooth controllers. Android, Mac, Chromebook, and PC users can all sync their Switch controllers to their device.

One important thing to remember when pairing Joy-Cons to non-Switch devices is they won’t function as a combined pair as they do on a Switch. Each one can only act as an independent controller, which greatly limits the functionality of using them on anything else. That said, they're still excellent for retro-style games.

When syncing a controller you’ve already synced to a Switch, make sure the Switch is off before attempting to sync it with another device.

On a PC

  1. Go to the Bluetooth settings on your machine. On Windows 10, go to Settings > Bluetooth & Other Devices.

  2. Make sure Bluetooth is on and select Add Bluetooth or other device.

    Add Bluetooth or other device on PC
  3. Press and hold the sync button on the Switch controller until the lights start blinking. The controller should appear in the list of devices Windows has discovered.

    Pro Controller Input on PC
  4. Select the controller and let Windows do the rest.

On Mac

On a Mac, the process is largely identical to Windows. Click the Apple Logo > System Preferences > Bluetooth.

Bluetooth icon in System preferences in macOS

Alternatively, if you added Bluetooth to your menu bar, click Bluetooth in the menu bar, then click Open Bluetooth Preferences.

Press and hold the sync button on the Switch controller, and when the pad shows up on the Mac’s Bluetooth device list, click Pair

On Android

Syncing a Switch pad on your Android device is just as simple.

  1. Go to Settings > Connections > Bluetooth.

  2. Press and hold the sync button on top of the Switch controller until the syncing lights start blinking, then tap Scan on your Android’s screen.

  3. When the Switch controller appears (usually at the very bottom of the list of devices), tap it and the two will pair.

    Connections, Bluetooth, Pro Controller pairing in Android Settings