Skip to main content

How to fix a frozen Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing New Horizons Journal Switch Hero
Animal Crossing New Horizons Journal Switch Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

You know the drill — you're playing your game, and then suddenly, it seems like everything just stops, and you find yourself having to fix a frozen Nintendo Switch. You hope maybe it's just an excruciating long loading screen, but sometimes the reality is your Switch is frozen. If you're ever in that predicament, then here's what you need to do, and don't let it ruin your gaming session!

Put your Switch back in its dock

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Switch docked

Animal Crossing New Horizons Switch Docked (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

One of the things we love about the Nintendo Switch is the ability to dock it and play it on the TV. This is also helpful when trying to unfreeze your console. The act of docking and undocking your Switch will briefly interrupt just about everything happening on the console. You barely notice it because it happens so fast, but there's a brief stutter where the console makes that switch (I regret nothing) from one state to another.

If your Switch is frozen, dock it and undock it to see what happens. You'll see the console return to its normal functioning position in many cases, and everything is great. No additional steps are required — you can return to your regularly scheduled gameplay.

On the other hand, if you're still suffering issues, you may need a new dock. Instead of buying the pricey official one, try out a more reasonably-priced third-party dock and see if it helps your issues. 

Press the Home button

Nintendo Switch on home screen in a portable stand

Nintendo Switch on home screen in a portable stand (Image credit: iMore)

Alternatively, it's possible that if you need to fix a frozen Nintendo Switch, the issue lies with the game and not with the system. Pressing the Home button while in-game will confirm whether the problem is with the game or the console. If you are sent back to the Home menu, you can close out of the game and restart it. If you are sent nowhere at all, you'll need to try other steps.

Power button reboot

Fix frozen Switch by Nintendo Switch power button

Fix frozen Switch by Nintendo Switch power button (Image credit: iMore)

Pressing the power button once may not do anything when you're trying to fix a frozen Nintendo Switch, but there's a hardware reboot in that power button that will work no matter what. As long as the console has power, you'll be able to reboot it this way.

Just press and hold that power button for 15 seconds. At the 15-second mark, the screen will go dark for a moment and then light back up a moment later with the Nintendo logo. You'll see the Switch logo next, just like a normal boot sequence, and all of a sudden, the Switch is back in working order. Hooray!

Blue screened?

Nintendo Switch with Zelda Joy-Cons

Nintendo Switch with Zelda Joy-Cons (Image credit: iMore)

If none of these solutions worked, or if any of the results in the infamous blue screen of death, you're probably out of luck for now. You'll need to contact Nintendo's support line for your region and ship your console to them to have them reset it for you. Be warned that this may cause you to lose saved data, remove any game cards or microSD cards before sending the system in.

All fixed up!

The Nintendo Switch is a great console, but it can still be prone to flaws. Thankfully, Nintendo has ensured it's easy to recover from crashes and freezes, so if you're buying or have recently bought a Switch and you're concerned, be sure to keep this page bookmarked in case you need it in the future.

Our top equipment picks

Here's all the equipment you need to fix a frozen Nintendo Switch.

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

With contributions from