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 bugs and glitches.

What Causes the Nintendo Switch to Freeze?

A frozen Nintendo Switch may be due to a variety of issues, including a dead battery, a software glitch, an incomplete update, or a dirty game cartridge.

The same problems can prevent Switch from awakening from Sleep Mode, turning on, turning off, or running games properly.

How to Unfreeze Nintendo Switch

Fixing a frozen Nintendo Switch console only takes a few minutes and is not something to worry about, unless you've tried all of the following troubleshooting tips.

Here are the best ways to unfreeze a Nintendo Switch console.

  1. 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.

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

    If the battery is completely dead, let the Switch charge for at least 30 minutes before turning it on again.

  3. 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 title, then press X to quit the game.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Remove your Joy Cons. Sometimes removing the Joy Con controllers from the Nintendo Switch and attaching them again can unfreeze the system.

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

  8. Clean your Nintendo Switch. If the game card or microSD card slot is dirty, it may be difficult for the Switch to read data. This can result in system freezes or crashes. Remove any cards from their slots and check for 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 remove dust and dirt in the same way you would cleaning a computer 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 crashes and freezes. If there is visible damage on the card, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it, unfortunately.

    The Nintendo Switch SD card may also be damaged. Check the card for any scratches or dents, especially if you have digital games saved on it.

    A good way to avoid 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. It's also a good way to protect purchases from kids who may be rough with the game cards when swapping games.

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

    You can manually check for updates by opening Settings > System > System Update. If the prompt says, "Your system is up to date," then the problem lies elsewhere.

  11. Contact support. If you’re still experiencing problems with your Nintendo Switch and none of these solutions have worked, it’s a good idea to contact the official Nintendo Customer Support service. They can advise you on alternative solutions and ways to fix or replace your console.