How To Update Your Nintendo Switch Controllers

You probably update your Nintendo Switch whenever the prompt for a new system update appears, but what about the controllers? Switch controllers come in two varieties — Joy-Con and Pro Controller — and both need to be updated periodically. Failure to keep the controllers updated may result in issues during gameplay, poor connectivity, or entirely new bugs introduced by an older software patch. Nintendo doesn't notify you of controller updates, so it's worth checking from time to time.

As expected, Nintendo made the controller update process as simple as installing software updates on the console itself — though it may be a tad buggy at times. Further simplifying the process is that both the Joy-Cons (the small, colorful gamepads) and the Pro Controller are updated using the same method despite their very different designs. Nintendo notes, however, that your Switch must be running the system menu 4.0 or newer for the controller firmware update option to be available.

How to update the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and Pro controllers

Before updating the Nintendo Switch controllers, you must make sure they're paired wirelessly with the console. Joy-Cons can be physically attached instead, but either method works the same. Assuming you have those prerequisites out of the way, you can update the controllers with a couple of taps or clicks, according to a Nintendo support document.

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

Nintendo says these steps work with all Switch models that are available at the time of writing, including the Switch OLED and the Switch Lite (in case it's paired with the Pro Controller). If you experience a hiccup during the update process that makes it fail, Nintendo says to try again. Still not working? Check out our full guide on how to fix this problem.

What to do if the Switch controller update fails

If you followed Nintendo's steps carefully but the controllers have failed to update — and assuming you've already tried to restart the update — there are a few troubleshooting methods you can give a shot, according to Nintendo. The first option is to restart the Switch. You can do that by pressing and holding the power button until the various options appear, then tapping the Restart option. If the update still won't complete after the console itself has been restarted, Nintendo says that you should try restarting the controllers, too. 

In the same way that the company baked a physical screenshot button into the console, the controllers sport a physical button called Sync that makes the restarting process easy: press the Sync button, then press one of the other buttons on the controller to restart it. Repeat this with the second Joy-Con if applicable, then attempt the update again. If this still hasn't solved your problems, there may be a hardware problem at play, in which case you'll need to get the device repaired.