The ultimate noob guide for hacking your nintendo switch — homebrew guide documentation

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Tlặng Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He"s invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, và iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf. Read more...

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About How-To Geek
NintendoThe Nintenvày Switch is a neat bit of hardware, but what if it could bởi more? Some people gian lận và install custom firmware on their Switch consoles to install homebrew software. We don’t recommend it, but we’ll explain the process.

Before you rush off to lớn hack your Switch, you should think long và hard about whether the risks are worth it.

Why We Recommkết thúc Against Modding

Again, we recommkết thúc against modding your Nintenbởi vì Switch console. Here are some problems that could occur if you do:

You could brick your Nintendo Switch, rendering it unusable.Nintenvày might ban your online account, removing access lớn all your legitimate purchases.Nintenvì could ban your Nintenvì Switch console from ever connecting to lớn online services.

If you’re still interested in learning about the process of modding a Nintenbởi vì Switch to run homebrew software, here’s how people bởi it.

Why Would You Haông xã Your Switch?

The process of installing custom firmware on a console, often referred to as hacking or modding, is a lot like performing a jailbreak on an iPhone. The ultimate goal is lớn install custom firmware on the device that removes the original manufacturer’s restrictions.


In Apple’s case, this allows you to modify & tweak the iOS operating system, install software from unknown sources, and dig around in parts of the system you were never meant to see. The same is true with Nintenvày Switch. You’re running a custom version of Nintendo’s firmware. This means, in theory, it should maintain compatibility with first-buổi tiệc ngọt games và software while allowing you khổng lồ use software from sources other than the eShop or a cartridge.

“Homebrew” is a term used to describe user-contributed software. This software allows you to vày things Nintendo never sanctioned. The most obvious of these is installing software from unscrupulous sources, including pirated games.

You can install emulators on a modified Switch & play all manner of classic games from early home page consoles, handhelds, & arcade cabinets. There are certainly issues with more modern, demanding platforms (like the Dreamcast). However, older platforms, like the SNES và Nintenvày DS, work well. There’s even a reliable Switch port of PCSX, an original PlayStation emulator.

Switch modders have ported whole operating systems to lớn the platform, including Ubuntu Linux, a version of Linux called “Lakka,” which focuses on emulation, và a version of Android.

The homebrew scene literally ported Mario 64 to lớn the switch. This is insane.

— Tylagaunt (
Tylagaunt) May 8, 2020

Since modding a console that’s still under active sầu development is very much a cat-and-mouse game, many homebrew apps focus on protecting the Switch from Nintendo’s long arm. This includes apps for backing up và restoring save data, blocking automatic updates, updating your console safely, và making it easier khổng lồ perform the same jailbreak in the future.

The other reason you might think about modding your Switch is too have fun! If you get a kiông chồng out of taking things apart and seeing how they work, this might be for you. Maybe you enjoy the challenge or are interested in making your own homebrew applications.

A Word of Warning

Nintenvì Switch modding isn’t for everyone. The majority of Switch owners who simply want lớn play a few games should avoid doing this entirely. Anyone who doesn’t understvà what he or she is doing should also think twice. If you don’t have a good reason khổng lồ jailbreak, don’t bother.


There’s a small risk that in doing so, you’ll brichồng your Switch. If you only have one console, it isn’t worth the risk. If you have sầu a second one you won’t mind losing, then at least you’ll still have your “main” Switch if things go wrong.

Unsurprisingly, Nintenvị isn’t fond of people installing homebrew on their consoles. Not only does it allow you to pirate games, but it also makes it possible khổng lồ modify game files for an unfair advantage. For example, you can modify save files lớn “fix” high-score tables, or install software lượt thích emulators (which Nintendo’s been fighting for years). There’s also a chance you could install malicious software since homebrew isn’t vetted by Nintenvày.


If Nintenvày detects custom firmware on your modified Switch, you could be permanently banned from online services. This has harsh consequences. You won’t be able to lớn access your library of (legitimately purchased) games on the eShop. You also won’t be able to lớn use Nintenvị Switch Online anymore. This means you’ll be locked out of matchmaking & online communities in games lượt thích Mario Maker 2.

Nintenvị has proven it’s prepared to lớn apply hardware bans (blacklisting of a console), as well as account-level bans for various infractions. An account-màn chơi ban means you can “start over” và open a new tài khoản on the same console, but you’ll thua all your purchases and any associated services. A hardware ban means you can never connect that Nintenvì Switch console to online services again.

Even if you vị have sầu a second Switch you’re prepared to lớn sacrifice, it’s a good idea lớn scrub it of any mention of your main Nintenbởi trương mục before you dip your toes inkhổng lồ the homebrew scene.

Is Your Switch Compatible?

Not all Switch consoles can be hacked. In April 2018, a vulnerability was discovered in the custom Tegra X2 chipmix used by Nintenbởi vì. The issue was acknowledged by NVIDIA, who supplies the chips:

“A person with physical access to older Tegra-based processors could connect khổng lồ the device’s USB port, bypass the secure boot and exedễ thương unverified code.”

The exploit is hardware-based, which means future versions of the Tegra X2 used in the Switch were patched. If you have sầu a Nintenbởi vì Switch manufactured after April 2018, there’s a good possibility it can’t be modified.

To find out for sure, you can check the serial number on the bottom edge of the unit near the charging port. Then, cross-reference your serial number with this thread on GBATemp to lớn see if it can be modded. There are three categories: unpatched (exploitable), patched (not exploitable), và possibly patched.

If yours falls under the “possibly patched” category, you’ll have to lớn try the exploit and see if it works.

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Nintenvì chưng Switch Lite và the slightly updated “Mariko” consoles (released in August 2019) have also been patched, & thus, can’t be used with this exploit. If you vì chưng have an original unpatched Switch, you’re in luck! Since this is a hardware exploit (tied khổng lồ the specific chip used in the console), Nintendo can’t patch it.

Of course, you can also buy a Switch that can be hacked if you don’t already have one. Just use the GBATemp serial thread lớn cross-reference serial numbers with the patched và unpatched hàng hóa lines. You can also demo a console’s vulnerability without harming it.

If your Switch currently can’t be patched, there’s not much you can bởi. Keep an eye on the scene, though—hackers are constantly coming up with new exploits. These include hardware modifications, like SX bộ vi xử lý Core and SX Lite, for consoles that can’t be hacked via other methods.

Hacking Your Switch

To haông chồng your Switch, you’ll need the following items:

An unpatched Nintenvày Switch that’s open lớn exploitsA microSD thẻ of 64 GB or larger (4 GB will work, but 64 GB is safer)An RCM jig or another way to lớn ground pin 10 on the right JoyCon (more on this below)A cable to connect your Switch (USB-C) with your computer (USB-A or USB-C) or Android device, if you’re using it.

The best exploit to use is known as “fusee-gelee,” which works with all versions of Switch firmware provided your Switch is exploitable. The other exploits, Nerecha và Caffeine, are limited khổng lồ particular firmware versions.

You can follow the full walkthrough of how to lớn haông xã your Switch via the NH Switch Guide, with detailed instructions for most operating systems. However, we’ll give you a brief overview of the process below.

This exploit uses the exploitable recovery mode (RCM) included with the Tegra X2. To access this mode, hold down the Volume Up, Power, và trang chủ buttons. This isn’t the Home button on the JoyCon, but rather, the “hidden” hardware trang chủ button.

with the jig you just slip it in and pop it out, theres metal inside of the jig to lớn act as a bridge between the pins which is all thats needed to enter RCM

— dUmbreon (
Norrls3942) December đôi mươi, 2018

To vị this, you’ll need khổng lồ ground pin 10 on the right JoyCon rail with an RCM jig. There are several ways you can make an RCM jig, và some are more permanent than others. If you vị this incorrectly, it could potentially damage or permanently brichồng your Switch.

After you enter RCM, you can download Hekate (a custom bootloader) to lớn the root of your MicroSD card và put it in your Switch. Use your preferred device to inject the payload, partition the MicroSD thẻ, and then download and copy your custom firmware.

Next, you’ll want to make a NAND backup and grab your console’s unique keys. These might come in handy if something goes wrong & you have khổng lồ restore your Switch.

Finally, you can boot inlớn RCM with your RCM jig, inject your payload, and then use Hekate to launch the custom firmware of your choice.

If you follow the NH Switch Guide, you over up with the custom firmware Atmosphere. You’ll see a Homebrew menu & several custom applications, including the following:

hbappstore: This is a homebrew tiện ích store, lượt thích Cydia for jailbroken iPhones.Checkpoint: A save game manager.NX-Shell: A tệp tin explorer.NXThemeInstaller: This tiện ích allows you khổng lồ install custom themes.atmosphere-updater: This app keeps your custom firmware up khổng lồ date.

Use the “switch” folder on your microSD card khổng lồ transfer the .NRO homebrew applications you want to use on your Switch.

Remember, this is an untethered jailbreak, which means restarting your Switch as you normally would will return it to its previously unhacked state. You’ll then have sầu khổng lồ boot into RCM, inject the payload, & then launch your custom firmware lớn get baông xã inkhổng lồ homebrew mode.

Approach with Caution

The Nintenvì chưng Switch is entering a golden era. We’re now in the middle of what’s currently expected lớn be the console’s life cycle, and the Switch is still in hot demand.

While Nintenbởi has had an explosive sầu first three years, there are still some big first-các buổi party exclusives on the horizon, including the sequel to Breath of the Wild, a new Metroid Prime, and the recently-announced Paper Mario: The Origamày King.

Once again, risking your Switch at such a prime time in the console’s life cycle doesn’t seem worth it unless you’ve sầu got a spare unit to sacrifice. Even then, you might be better off using a cheap Switch-clone instead. If you’re desperate lớn mod something, how about the Switch doông xã, instead?

Tlặng BrookesTyên ổn Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He"s invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier và MakeUseOf. Read Full Bio »

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