What You Need To Do If Your Nintendo Switch Controllers Won't Update

The Nintendo Switch features two types of controllers: Joy-Cons, which are the slim, colorful gamepads that slide onto the sides of the tablet, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which looks similar to an ordinary console controller. Regardless of which version you're using, you'll need to update them periodically to ensure they work properly with both the console and with games that utilize things like HD Rumble.

Updating the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller is a straightforward process, but there are two issues you may run into, according to Nintendo: the controllers may simply fail to update for no apparent reason, or you may see an error message on the Switch that says the update failed with the option to try again. In most cases, you can solve these issues yourself and update the gamepads, but in rare cases, Nintendo says you may need to reach out to it and start a repair claim to get the console and/or controller repaired.

How to fix Nintendo Switch controllers that won't update

When updating the Switch controllers, you may get an error message that reads: "Unable to update the controllers. Do you want to try again?" It might work if you retry, but if the update once again fails, you'll need to utilize some troubleshooting methods to resolve the problem — the same is true if the controllers don't update and don't show an error message.

According to Nintendo, you should update the Switch's system software if the controllers won't update. If you regularly use the console, odds are that it's already up to date. Nintendo notifies players when an update is available and requires them to install it to keep playing online games. Regardless, you can check the system software status with a couple of clicks (via Nintendo):

  1. Press the home button and then tap or click System Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select System, then System Update.
  3. Accept the prompt that appears to download and install the update if one is available.

Assuming there's no system software update available, Nintendo says you should force restart the console by pressing and holding the power button until the Restart option appears on-screen. Tap Restart and wait for the console to reboot. If restarting the console doesn't work, you should instead restart the controller(s). On both the Joy-Con and the Pro Controller, this means pressing the Sync button, then pressing any other button.

How to update the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons

If you've followed the steps above and you're ready to try updating your controllers again, Nintendo lays out the very simple update process in a support document:

  1. Press the home button on the Switch.
  2. Tap or click System Settings, then Controllers and Sensors.
  3. Scroll down and select the Update Controllers option.
  4. Wait for the update to finish.

Nintendo says you'll need to make sure the controllers are charged, turned on, and paired with the Switch for this update method to work. The good news is that you don't have to physically connect the Joy-Cons to the console to update them, so a connection over Bluetooth is fine. If the update is successful this time, congratulations! If not, Nintendo says that the Joy-Cons and possibly the Switch itself will need to be repaired. Contact Nintendo support for more info about how to get your console fixed.