The Nintendo Switch has become one of the world’s most popular gaming platforms, thanks to its ability to “switch” from portable tablet play to a standard, TV-connected console. However, to enjoy this hybrid platform’s benefits, the wireless controllers, known as the joy-cons, must connect to the console. But what do you do when the joy-cons are not connecting?

An unrecognized joy-con is most likely the result of standard electronic issues, such as a device in need of a reset or with dead batteries. If this is not the case, it may be because your software updates have fallen behind schedule.

In rare cases, a joy-con not connecting is the result of hardware that is worn out. However, it is important to go through the steps listed in this guide before purchasing a new controller or having yours repaired.

You Need a Restart

More often than not, the cause behind your joy-con not connecting is extremely simple and can be solved with basic electronic troubleshooting strategies. As such, the first place to start is with a simple restart.

Sometimes, the joy-con may disconnect after long periods of inactivity. For example, if you fall asleep playing and the Switch remains on overnight, you may wake up the next morning to find that the joy-con is not connected.

This is a sort of defense mechanism by the system to keep the joy-con from “working” when not in use, so it disconnects itself to prevent overheating and causing any electrical damage. The problem is that once you are ready to play again, the console may not automatically recognize the controller.

This is an easy fix, as a simple restart will usually remedy the issue. Simply hold down on the “power” button for at least three seconds, select “power options,” and then choose “restart.” This will essentially wake your system up again, after which the joy-con will most likely be recognized when you try to connect.

A Reset is Needed

The next step up from a restart is a reset. This will erase any errors or glitches that may be interrupting the connection and ensure a fresh start.

To perform a reset on your joy-con, press the SYNC button once (located on the back of the right controller), then press any other button on the controller to complete the process.

The Joy-Con Needs to Charge

Like most modern gaming platforms, the joy-con can be either used remotely or attached to the console. When it is attached to the console, it is charging. When it is unplugged, you are running on a battery pack.

For joy-cons in good condition, a charge should last about 20 hours. However, once the battery pack is dead, it will need to be attached to the console or a charging dock.

Therefore, if your joy-con is not connecting remotely, there is a chance that the battery pack is dead. Ensure a strong connection between the console—or charging dock—and joy-con and give it some time to charge before attempting another connection.

An Update is Needed

Another possible cause of an unrecognized joy-con is a failure to stay on top of software updates. If the joy-con and console are operating on different software versions, you will likely experience connectivity issues.

In most cases, the Switch will automatically download the latest software version. Nonetheless, there are some times, most likely due to an Internet outage, when a manual update will be required.

To ensure that your joy-con is equipped with the most recent updates, the Nintendo help center recommends taking the following steps:

  1. Go to the home menu and select “System Settings.”
  2. Scroll through the settings options and choose “System.”
  3. Select “System Update” to begin the manual scan to see if the console is up-to-date.
  4. If a newer software version is available, the Switch will begin performing the update.

Now, you may be wondering how you can perform an update if you are unable to connect the joy-con. If connected to the Internet, these same steps can be performed utilizing the touch screen on the Switch itself.

Test Out Other Joy-Cons

Each Switch will have both a right and left joy-con. Test both to see if there are connectivity issues with each. If one connects but not the other, see if there is an alternate set of joy-cons for you to test.

If this alternate set of joy-cons work fine and you are left with only one of your joy-cons working, then you may need to send your faulty joy-con back to Nintendo to have it repaired or replaced.

Conclusion

The Nintendo Switch is one of the most innovative gaming sensations, allowing players to “switch” back and forth between portable tablet mode and traditional TV play. However, to enjoy the benefits of this hybrid gaming, the controllers, known as joy-cons, must connect properly.

If the joy-con is not connecting, it is most likely the result of a standard technological issue, such as the need for a reset or battery charge. If this does not work, you may need to do a manual update to ensure the latest software version. Before buying a new joy-con or having it repaired, test alternate joy-cons to confirm that a faulty controller is indeed the issue.

Are you having trouble with other console controllers, like the Xbox controller? Check out this article for troubleshooting tips!

Author

The Eyerly Family is a tight knit family from Texas. Married for 10 years Dane and Deena are the parents to six awesome kids! In 2021 the Eyerly's are leaving normal life behind to travel full-time throughout the United States in their Double Decker Bus which has been converted to a tiny home. Learn more about The Eyerly's here.

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