How to Fix It When Nintendo Switch Is Frozen

12 ways to solve the problem and start gaming again

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 becomes unresponsive during play, while other times, the Switch won't turn on or off properly. There are many 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 the Switch from awakening from Sleep Mode, turning on, turning off, or running games properly.

Hands holding a frozen Nintendo Switch console with static on its screen.
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How to Unfreeze Your Nintendo Switch

Fixing a frozen Nintendo Switch console often takes only a few minutes and isn't 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. Hold the power button for at least 12 seconds to shut down the device, 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 doesn't turn on, it could mean the battery is depleted. Place the console in its dock or connect a USB-C cable to charge the battery, then turn 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, exit the game. Reopen the game and see if that solves the problem.

  4. Dock and redock the Switch. If your Nintendo Switch freezes or won't turn on or off properly, slowly remove it from the dock, then place 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 the Joy-Cons. Sometimes removing the Joy-Con controllers from the Nintendo Switch and attaching the controllers again can unfreeze the system.

  7. Remove wired controllers. If you have a wired video game controller attached to your Nintendo Switch, unplug it, wait a few seconds, then reconnect it.

  8. Clean the 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 the slots and check for dirt or dust.

    Do not blow in the slots, as this deposits moisture and can permanently damage a Nintendo Switch. Instead, use an air gun, strong vacuum cleaner, or dry cloth to remove dust and dirt in the same way you would clean a computer CPU fan.

  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.

    To avoid card damage, purchase games digitally from the eShop. Once bought, digital games can be re-downloaded on any Switch console with your account information.

  10. Check the Nintendo Switch SD card for damage. A damaged SD card can cause issues with freezing. Check the card for any scratches or dents, especially if you have digital games saved on it.

  11. Install a system update. If you experience frequent freezes or crashes, a previous system update may have been interrupted and caused some kind of corruption. It's easy to check for updates manually.

  12. Contact Nintendo customer support. If you still experience problems with your Nintendo Switch and none of these solutions worked, contact the official Nintendo Customer Support service. They can advise you on alternative solutions and ways to fix or replace your console.