How to Fix It When Nintendo Switch Is Frozen

It's not pretty when it happens but there are ways around it

A man holding a frozen Nintendo Switch console with static on its screen.

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Nintendo is known for producing high quality video game consoles and titles, but that doesn’t mean the Nintendo Switch is immune to freezing or crashing.

Sometimes a video game can become unresponsive during play, while other times the Switch won’t turn on or off properly. Fortunately, there are a lot of solutions to these frustrating Nintendo Switch bugs and glitches.

Causes of Frozen Nintendo Switch Consoles

A Nintendo Switch freezing or becoming unresponsive can be the result of a variety of issues, like the console’s battery running out, a software glitch, an incomplete update, or a dirty game cartridge.

Similar problems can also prevent a Nintendo Switch from awakening from Sleep Mode, turning on, turning off, and running video games and apps properly.

How to Unfreeze Nintendo Switch Consoles

Fixing a frozen Nintendo Switch console typically only takes a few minutes and is usually not something to worry too much about, at least not until you’ve tried all of these possible solutions.

Here are the best ways to unfreeze Nintendo Switch consoles and video games.

  1. Charge the battery. If your Nintendo Switch won’t turn on, its battery could be flat. Place the console in its dock or connect a USB-C cable to it to charge its battery, then try turning it on again.

    If the battery has gone completely flat, let the Switch charge for at least 30 minutes before turning it on again.

  2. Quit the game. If the game you’re playing on the Nintendo Switch freezes or becomes unresponsive, press the Home button to return to the Home screen, highlight the game’s tile, then press X to quit the game.

  3. Dock and redock your Switch. If your Nintendo Switch freezes or won’t turn on or off properly, try slowly removing it from the dock, then placing it back in again. This can be an effective way of shocking the system out of whatever bug it’s experiencing.

    Be careful of the screen when removing the Switch from the dock as the dock can scratch the glass surface.

  4. Only use a strong internet connection. A weak internet connection can cause some Switch games to freeze.

    An easy way to test your internet speed is to use an internet speed test site.

  5. Remove your Joy Cons. Sometimes removing the Joy Con controllers from the Nintendo Switch and attaching them again can unfreeze the system or a video game.

  6. Remove wired controllers. If you have a wired video game controller attached to your Nintendo Switch, try unplugging them, waiting a few seconds, then reconnecting them.

  7. Turn it off and on again. If your Nintendo Switch is frozen, the most-effective solution is to power it off completely, then turn it on again. You can do this by holding down the Power button for at least 12 seconds to shut it down, then press it once to turn it back on.

    The power button is the small circular button on the top of the Nintendo Switch next to the volume buttons.

  8. Clean your Nintendo Switch. If the game card or microSD card slot is dirty, this can make it difficult for the Switch to read data and can result in system freezes or crashes. Remove any cards from their slots and check for any dirt or dust.

    Do not blow in the slots as this will deposit moisture and can permanently damage your Nintendo Switch. Instead, use an air gun or a strong vacuum cleaner to shift dust and dirt in the same way you would when cleaning a computer's CPU fan. A dry cloth can also be used.

  9. Check for a damaged game card. A damaged game card can make it difficult for the Nintendo Switch to read the game data and is a common cause of game crashes and freezes. If there is visible damage on the card, there’s not too much you can do, unfortunately.

    A Nintendo Switch SD card could also be damaged, so it's worth checking this as well, especially if you save digital games to one.

    A good way to avoid game card damage is to purchase games digitally from the eShop. Once bought, digital games can be re-downloaded on any Switch console with your account information should your console break. It's also a good way to protect purchases from kids who may be rough with the physical game cards when swapping games.

  10. Install a system update. If you’re experiencing frequent freezes or crashed, a previous system update may have been interrupted and caused some kind of corruption.

    You can check for an update manually by opening Settings > System > System Update. If you get the "Your system is up to date" message, the cause of your freezes is likely something else.

  11. Contact support. If you’re still experiencing problems with your Nintendo Switch and none of these solutions have helped, it’s a good idea to contact the official Nintendo Customer Support service as they will be able to advise you on alternative solutions or on how to replace your console.