Many people think of the Switch as that console that uses Joy-Cons – and that’s what many players use. However, other controllers and lesser-known ways to connect Joy-Cons might work better for players depending on their game, party composition, and charging needs. Whether you’re looking for a direct connection with charging enabled or to use a Joy-Con from across the room with it turned horizontally, there’s a way to make it happen.
What Kinds of Nintendo Switch Controllers Are There?
Consider all the controllers you can use with the Switch to figure out which are right for you.
- The classic Joy-Con controllers are the ones that attach directly to the Switch and are one of the only styles you can use for handheld play. Each one can also operate on its own as a controller, meaning you can use one set of Joy-Cons for two people to play, depending on the game. Some people report problems with Joy-Cons developing drift over the years, which can be a frequent issue for players. |
- The Pro controller from Nintendo looks more like a classic gamepad. It generally gets high ratings for comfort and utility, with large buttons and soft thumbsticks. It has motion-control, HD rumble, and NFC compatibility for Amiibos. Other third-party companies also make versions of this style that may or may not offer the same features, depending on your purchase.
- You can also find other types of controllers, like models that mimic the basic SNES controller. Other side-attached ones resembling Joy-Cons are larger and have different button placement. Before choosing a style, check out what the market has to offer. You might find something that suits you better than expected.
I use a Pro controller on almost everything unless I’m playing handheld. However, other players prefer the standard Joy-Cons or controllers with another form factor.
How Do Controllers Connect to Switch?
There are three main ways to connect controllers to your Switch.
- Side-mounted controllers like Joy-Cons slide into the rails on the side of the Switch. Once they’re connected, you can use the Switch as a handheld device.
- Most controllers support wireless connecting, where you pair it by going to a menu and pressing the sync button. You can also pair side-mounted controllers in this method but not if you want to use the device in your hands.
- The Switch also supports USB charging. If a controller can be plugged in with a USB cable, you can use it while it charges.
It’s fine to pick and choose the methods that suit you best. Many people go from one to the other on the same day.
How Many Controllers Can You Pair With the Switch?
You can pair up to eight controllers to the Switch. This supports games with slots for many players, like Super Smash Bros.
Connecting Controllers to Switch
Choose whichever way works best for the way you’re playing. If you want to change the connection method later, simply do a different set of steps.
In handheld mode, the Joy-Cons are attached directly to the switch via rails on the sides of the device. You can’t connect any other style of controller this way.
- Slide the left Joy-Con into the rail on the side of the device. Keep moving it until you feel it click into place.
- Repeat the process with the right Joy-Con.
The Joy-Cons should also charge when they’re mounted to the Switch and on the dock. Most people prefer to leave them plugged in this way for storage.
This method will let you use Joy-Cons or other controller styles wirelessly. It works the same, no matter what controller you use. The only thing that matters is that it’s compatible with your Switch.
- Choose Controllers on the Home menu.
- Select Change Grip and Order. A new screen with controller options will appear.
- Press the Sync button on the controller you’re trying to pair. The button you need to press will be indicated on the screen since it differs depending on what you’re pairing.
- Press L on the left Joy-Con and R on the right Joy-Con if you’re going to use them horizontally. If you want to use one in a solo, vertical configuration, press SL+SR on the controller you’re pairing.
You’ll need to sync each controller you plan to use. The menu where you sync them will also indicate which player controls which controller.
USB Pairing for Joy-Cons
You can connect your controllers to the Switch while you play, as long as you have a compatible Joy-Con charging grip. Nintendo says a system update is needed before using this method.
- Slide the Joy-Cons into place on the charging grip. You should feel a click when they’re fully connected.
- Connect one side of the USB charging cable to the charging grip.
- Plug the other side into a USB port on the Switch.
Be careful when using this method, since
USB Pairing for Compatible Controllers
To connect the Pro controller to the Switch, you must swap its role in system settings before doing so. NFC isn’t available when you’re using the controller in wired mode. This is also the method to hook up other wireless controllers.
- Choose System Settings on the Home menu.
- Choose Controllers and Sensors, and then switch on Pro Controller Wired Communication.
- Plug a USB cable into the Pro Controller.
- Connect the other side of the USB cable to the Switch.
Be careful when you’re using USB charging while playing. It’s very easy to yank too hard and pull your Switch forward on the dock. Use a longer cable to prevent this from happening.
Why Can’t I Connect My Controller?
If you’re having trouble connecting your controller with the methods above, there are a few things you can check to fix the problem.
- Always keep your Switch system and the firmware for the Joy-Con controllers updated.
- Look in the rails on the side of the Switch if side-mounted controllers aren’t connecting correctly. Sometimes there’s an obstruction, or the place they click in is otherwise not right.
- You can always reset a controller by pressing the Sync button and then pressing any other button on the controller.
- Make sure you keep your controllers charged. If you’re having trouble getting a wireless connection, double-check that it’s turned on. Also, ensure that you’re in the settings for the Switch and have gone through the pairing process.
- Restart your Switch before trying to connect it again if you’re still having problems. Sometimes a quick refresh fixes everything and can get you back into the game.
- Many sources recommend resetting your controllers to the default button mapping if you’re having trouble getting connected.