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14 essential Nintendo Switch setup tips and tricks you need to know

Nintendo Switch OLED
(Image credit: Future)

If you've just got one for yourself, some Nintendo Switch setup tips and tricks can make your experience with it a lot better and easier when you're first getting to grips with your new console. Whether you want to extend the battery life, set up friends or more, we've got you covered below.

We've put together a whole range of Nintendo Switch setup tips and tricks to cover all the bases and make sure you're ready to game at maximum capacity almost immediately after opening it, with quality of life improvements that'll make the best of the experience and keep it as good as possible, to get that Switch set up just right.

1. Use the Quick Menu to save time

Nintendo switch Quick menu

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Home button is a handy way to get out of whatever you’re doing on your Nintendo Switch, and get back to the Home screen if you want to do anything else. However, if you hold the button down you can access a Quick Menu with a few useful options without going anywhere. Namely, these: 

  1. Sleep Mode - put the console to sleep and save power
  2. Brightness and volume sliders - tweak either on the fly
  3. Flight mode - turn off any wireless communication 

2. Power down properly if you’re not playing for a while

Nintendo switch power options

(Image credit: Nintendo)

While Sleep Mode is handy for shutting down your Nintendo Switch for short durations, the battery is still getting drained. Leave it in Sleep Mode for too long and you can find yourself without enough juice to play next time you pick it up. If you’re going to leave it alone for a while hold down the power button until a menu appears where you can select the Power Options and choose Power Off to completely shut your console down and save battery during. 

3. Some buttons make silly noises when you want to wake your Switch up

Nintendo switch button noises

(Image credit: Nintendo)

When you go to turn on your Switch you’ll have to press A, then the same button three times to open it. Most of the buttons just click, bu there are four that make some funnier noises: 

  • L stick click - Boing
  • L2 - Tinny click
  • R stick click - Frog
  • R2 - Honk

4. Show the battery percentage for a better idea of how long you can play

Nintendo Switch battery percentage

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The default battery indicator gives you a rough idea of what’s left but it’s not hugely accurate. It’ll go red when you’re dangerously close to running out but otherwise it’s too small to really tell how long you have. If you go into System Settings, then System, you’ll see the option to turn Console Battery (%) on, which will tell you exactly how much power you have left. 

5. You can improve and extend your Nintendo Switch battery life 

extend nintendo switch battery life

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There are a few tricks you can use to stretch out your battery life if you’re planning to have a long stretch between charges. Just head to System Settings and change the following: 

  • Turn on Flight Mode - wireless communication is a power drain and even if you’re not connected to anything the Switch will use up juice looking anyway. 
  • Turn down Screen Brightness - the brighter the screen the more power it uses so set it as low as is comfortable. 
  • Turn down the Volume - this is less of an issue, especially if you’re using headphones but less noise will save you power. 
  • Turn off Controller Vibration - head to Controllers and Sensors and switch off vibration to save the power that would use. 

It’s also an idea, as previously mentioned, to completely power down the console when you’re not using it. 

6. Get a battery pack 

nintendo switch battery pack

(Image credit: Anker)

No matter how careful you are, you will be caught short by running out of power at some point. Which is where a battery or charger pack will come in useful to top things up. There are loads of options so check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch chargers to help you pick one that’s best for you. 

nintendo switch social sharing

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you go to your account page (the one with your name and face) you’ll find User Settings, in here you’ll find the Album option and Social Network Posting Settings. From here you can link your Switch to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and share screenshots and videos directly from the console. 

8. Add some Nintendo Switch friends

nintendo switch friends

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There are multiple ways to add some Switch friends to your console. From your account page (the one with your face and name) you’ll see two options: Friend Suggestions and Add Friend. 

Friend Suggestions will show potential friends you might already be connected to via Nintendo mobile games, Facebook, Twitter, 3DS and Wii. Add Friends, on the other hand, will let you input Friend Codes, search for local users and people you've played with, as well as check any requests you’ve sent and received.   

9. Here’s how to find lost Nintendo Switch controllers 

find lost Nintendo Switch controllers

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you do manage to misplace a Joy-Con and can’t find it, head to the Controllers option on the home screen where you’ll find a Search for Controllers option. This will let you remotely trigger vibration in the missing pad and hopefully make its location obvious. 

10. You’ll need Nintendo Switch Online to play online, but check you need it

Nintendo Switch Online

(Image credit: Nintendo)

You’ll need to pay for Nintendo Switch Online if you want to play online games with anyone, or use most games with online components. But, while you can get Nintendo Switch Online cheap (opens in new tab), check if you really need it. Apart from online play with your friends the other benefits include cloud saves (with most but not all games), access to a range of classic NES & Super NES games, rewards, and the ability to use the Switch Smartphone app for voice chat.   

11. Add new users

nintendo switch new users

(Image credit: Nintendo)

You can have more than one user on a Switch, with each account able to buy and play games. If the one user has the Switch designated as their primary (which is usually the case if you only have one) then other users can play the games they download. 

12. Hold the Power Button down to reset your Nintendo Switch if it crashes or locks up

nintendo switch power button

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Holding down the Power Button will open up a menu where you can put the console to sleep or open up the Power Options. From here you can Restart the console should it lock up or crash in anyway that a reset might fix.  

13. There’s a Nintendo Switch dark theme to save your eyes at night  

Nintendo Switch dark theme

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Just head into the System Settings and look for Themes in the menu. There you’ll find Basic Black and Basic White options for the overall theme of your Switch. Obviously the Basic Black option is a little more subdued and better suited for night times. 

14. Use data management to free up space

Nintendo switch data management

(Image credit: Nintendo)

In System Settings you’ll find an option called Data Management. This will show you how much space you've used on the control and what you have free. You can use it to check and delete screens and videos that might take up space, as well as Quick Archive games. This will show you anything you haven’t played for a while and let you choose whether or not to delete them from the console. That will keep an icon for the game on your console and keep your save data but offload everything else.  

Leon Hurley
Leon Hurley

I'm currently GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I've had a hand in producing or writing all of the guide and tips content on the site. I also write reviews, previews and features, and do video. Previously I worked for Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website. I'm a big fan of open world games, horror, and narrative adventures.