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Nintendo Switch Won’t Turn On: Possible Causes & Fixes

There’s nothing more frustrating than settling down to start a new game or continue your favorite only to find that your Nintendo Switch won’t turn on. Technology is fallible, and many of us have been in the same tough spot. Presumably what you want to do is find the problem and fix it as soon as possible.

If your Nintendo Switch won’t turn on, the issue may be a dead battery, a damaged port or charger, use of an incorrect HDMI port, or a bad software update. You’ll need to go through these options to identify the issue and fix it. If you can’t figure it out, see a professional for assistance.

So if your Nintendo Switch won’t wake up from sleep mode or presents you with a black screen even though you can hear sound from the speakers, fear not! Most of these issues are fixable, and you just need to know how to correctly troubleshoot the Switch in order to find the right solution. 

Why Won’t My Nintendo Switch Turn On?

Game joystick on a white background

The Nintendo Switch (on Amazon) is a very popular gaming console, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its issues. There are a number of potential problems that could cause you to struggle with a blank screen or a lack of power to the device, including:

  • You’ve connected the HDMI cable to the wrong TV port
  • The console just needs to be charged
  • A software update has caused an issue
  • There’s a damaged port or a faulty charger
  • The battery has failed entirely

To correctly identify which of these is causing the issue with your Switch, you’ll have to run through a few troubleshooting steps. The first thing to do is identify if the issue is with the handheld mode, the docked mode, or both. And note that this can happen on the Switch Lite too (our parallel guide).

If the issue is only with docked mode but it works fine on handheld, that’s a sure sign that there might be a problem with the HDMI cable. If there’s only a problem in handheld mode, it’s time to troubleshoot the charger, the ports, and the battery.

If there’s an issue with both, it may be that something to do with the software has affected the Switch, like an update gone wrong. And if you at some point make a baby step forward on the problem and get to a fully blue or orange screen, be sure to see our related guides for moving through those related issues.

How to Fix a Nintendo Switch That Won’t Turn On

Hybrid video game console with switch detachable controllers on both sides

There are a few potential solutions to fixing a Switch that won’t turn on. Firstly, you should identify exactly where the problem is, and after you’ve done that, you can proceed to the appropriate solution.

Make Sure Your Console Is Charged

Pro-Tip: If your Switch won’t turn on, the most likely cause is that it’s totally dead. Charging from 0–>1% will take about 15minutes, so don’t panic if it doesn’t turn on immediately when you plug it in.

If it’s the first time your console has ever shown you a blank screen, it’s probably just that the battery died without you noticing. It happens, especially if you’ve had the Switch in a bag or in a drawer for awhile.

Plug it into the adapter and leave it for a good 15 minutes as we mentioned above, even if you’re fairly sure it didn’t die — those batteries can drain surprisingly fast. Full charging time for the Switch will take about 3-4hrs, and you can check out our related guides if you think your Switch is charging too slowly or drawing down that charge too quickly when in use.

Check the HDMI Port and Try Another Cable

If you’ve found that the problem is in docked mode, make sure the HDMI cable is connected to the right port. Someone else might have moved it around, or you might have reconnected it and accidentally inserted it in the wrong slot.

If that doesn’t work, it may be that you have a faulty HDMI cable. Most people (especially those who are enthusiastic gamers) have a spare HDMI cable around the house, so you can find one and see if that works. If it turns out you need a new HDMI cable, try the Amazon Basics High-Speed HDMI Cable (on Amazon).

Consider the Charger or Port

If the previous step didn’t work but the Switch still works in docked mode, you may need to look at the charger. You can replace the charger (on Amazon) and see if the new one makes a difference.

If it’s not the charger, it could be the port. You can gently swab the inside with a cotton swap or soft fabric to get rid of any debris, though you should by no means ever pour any cleaner or water inside; doing so could make the problem much worse.

Reset the Switch

To ensure it’s not a problem with the Switch’s software, you might want to try a hard reset of the device. You will be given the option to keep your data and games intact, so don’t worry about that.

Hold the power button down until the console resets. Then, when the console is off, hold down the volume buttons and press the power button. This should launch maintenance mode, where you should be able to see if the screen issue is a software problem.

You can select either Initialize Console or Initialize Console Without Deleting Save Data. This will bring your Switch back to a factory reset and, as you can see, you can choose the second option to avoid losing any data.

See a Repair Technician

If your console still isn’t working, it may be time to see a repair technician. Only so many issues can be identified and fixed at home, and while most power issues have DIY fixes, some unlucky gamers may find that there’s a hardware problem on their Switch that requires a professional’s attention. 

How to Keep Your Nintendo Switch in Prime Condition 

If you want to take some preventative measures to protect your Switch, there are a few good techniques to use. There’s no guarantee you’ll never have issues, but taking care of the console can help immensely:

  • Don’t turn off the console while it’s actively doing something, like saving.
  • Offload extra games and files that you no longer need to reduce storage in use.
  • Only use accessories licensed by Nintendo.
  • Try not to expose the Switch to any extreme temperatures.
  • Keep liquids away from the console.
  • Be very careful when handling the console; try not to drop or damage it.

If you take all of these preventative measures then hopefully you’ll have no issues with your Switch. However, know that if you do have power issues, most of them are fixable with some patience and a can-do attitude.

And watch out for more rogue issues with your console. We’re experts on the Nintendo Switch around here, especially fixing it, and you may want to be aware of our other detailed guides on how to unfreeze a Nintendo Switch (or Switch Lite), what to do if it keeps crashing, and how to fix a Switch that is just too slow.

We also have writ-ups on more edge-case situations, like addressing Nintendo Switch water damage, infinite update loops, and what to do if the power button stops working.