The Nintendo Switch modding: Some people modify and install custom firmware on their Switch consoles to install the homebrew software; we do not recommend this, but we will explain how to do it.
Before you hack your Nintendo Switch, you should decide if the risks are really worth it.
The risks of modding (hacking or jailbreaking) Nintendo Switch and why we don’t recommend it
We recommend against modding your console. Here are some problems that might occur if you mod or hack it:
- You could brick your Nintendo Switch, leaving it totally unusable.
- Nintendo could ban your online account, eliminating access to all your legitimate purchases.
- Also, it could prohibit your Nintendo Switch console from connecting to online services.
Why do people hack Nintendo Switch?
The process of installing custom firmware on a console, often called hacking or modding, is much like jailbreaking an iPhone. The ultimate goal is to install custom firmware on the device that eliminates the original manufacturer’s restrictions on the device.
So you can run a custom version of the Nintendo firmware on a hacked Switch. This means that in theory, you should maintain compatibility with video games and source software. All this while allowing you to use software from sources other than the electronic store or from a cartridge.
“Homebrew” is a term used to describe user-contributed software. This software allows you to do things that Nintendo has never penalized. One of the most obvious things is to install software from totally unknown sources, including pirated games.
Similarly, you can install emulators on a modified Nintendo Switch and play all kinds of classic games from early home consoles, portable devices, and game consoles. Usually there are issues with more modern and demanding platforms like Dreamcast.
Nintendo Switch modders have brought complete operating systems to the platform, including Ubuntu Linux. A version of Linux called “Lakka”, which focuses on emulation and also, have uploaded a version of Android.
Why is hacking Nintendo Switch risky?
Since modding a console that’s still in active development is very much a high-stakes game, many homebrew apps focus on protecting the Nintendo Switch from Nintendo’s fearsome arm.
This includes applications for backing up and restoring saved data, blocking automatic updates, updating your console safely and facilitating the same jailbreak in the future.
The other reason you might think about modding your Nintendo Switch is also fun. If you like to take things apart and see how they work, modding might be for you. You may enjoy the challenge or you may be interested in making your own homebrew applications.
Is your Nintendo Switch compatible for hacking / jailbreaking?
Not all Nintendo Switch consoles may be suitable for hacking. In April 2018, a vulnerability was discovered in the custom Tegra X2 chipset used by Nintendo. The problem was recognized by NVIDIA, which supplies the chips.
The problem originated because a user with physical access to older Tegra-based processors could connect to the device’s USB port, bypass Secure Boot, and run unverified code.
The exploit is hardware-based, which means that future versions of Tegra X2 used on the Nintendo Switch have already been patched. If you have a Nintendo Switch manufactured after April 2018, there is a good chance that it cannot be modified.
To be safe, you can check the serial number on the bottom of the unit near the charging port. Then cross-reference your serial number with an internet article that has patched versions to see if it can be changed. You’ll find three categories: unpatched; which may have exploit, patched; it cannot be exploited and possibly patched.
If your Nintendo Switch is in the “possibly patched” category, you will have to test the exploit and see if it works.
There are other consoles that are patched
Consoles such as the Nintendo Switch Lite and slightly updated “Mariko” consoles, which were released in August last year; they have also been patched and therefore cannot be used with this exploit. If you have an original Nintendo Switch without a patch, you’re very lucky. Because this is a hardware vulnerability that is tied to the specific chip used in the console, Nintendo cannot patch it.
Of course, you can also buy a Nintendo Switch that can be hacked if you don’t already have one. You can also test the vulnerability of a console without damaging it. If your Nintendo Switch can’t be patched currently, there isn’t much you can do.
However, you have to be aware because hackers constantly present new achievements. These include hardware modifications, such as SX Core and SX Lite, for consoles that cannot be hacked through other methods.
How to hack, mod or jailbreak your Nintendo Switch?
In order for you to hack your Nintendo Switch, you will need the following things.
A Nintendo Switch without patches and that is open to exploits.
A 64 GB or more micro SD card. 4GB will work, but 64GB is much more secure.
An RCM jig or other way to ground pin 10 on the right JoyCon.
A USB-C cable to connect your Switch with your computer, whether it has a USB-A or USB-C connection. (Also for Android devices, if you are using it there.)
The best exploit to use is known as “fusee-gelee,” which works with all versions of the Nintendo Switch firmware. All this provided that exploits serve him. The other exploits, Nereba and Caffeine, are limited to specific firmware versions.
This exploit uses exploit recovery mode (RCM), included with the Tegra X2. To access this mode, you must press and hold the Volume Up, Power and Home buttons. This is not the Start button on the JoyCon, but the hardware Start button that is “hidden”.
To do this, you’ll need to ground pin 10 on the right JoyCon rail with an RCM jig. There are several ways to do an RCM jig and some last longer than others. If you do this incorrectly, you could permanently damage or crash your Nintendo Switch.
After entering RCM, you can download Hekate , which is a custom bootloader to root your MicroSD card and put it on your Nintendo Switch. Use your preferred device to load the payload and partition the MicroSD card. Then download and copy your custom firmware.
Then you can make a NAND backup and save the unique keys of your console. This can come in handy if something goes wrong and you have to restore your Nintendo Switch. To finish, you can start RCM with your RCM jig, put the payload and then use Hekate software to start the custom firmware you have selected.
Modding Nintendo Switch: You will already have a firmware installed
You’ll end up with the custom firmware called Atmosphere. You’ll see a Homebrew menu and various custom apps, including the following.
hbappstore: This is a homebrew app store, like Cydia for jailbroken iPhones.
Checkpoint: an administrator to save your video games.
NX-Shell: a file explorer.
NXThemeInstaller: this application allows you to install custom themes.
atmosphere-updater: this application keeps your custom firmware updated.
Use the “switch” folder on your microSD card to transfer the homebrew applications. NRO that you want to use on your Nintendo Switch.
Remember this is an unrestricted jailbreak, which means you can restart your Nintendo Switch as you normally would and it will return it to its un-hacked state. Next, you’ll need to start RCM, drop the payload, and then start your custom firmware to return to homebrew launcher mode.