Nintendo Switch system software

The Nintendo Switch system software is an updatable firmware and operating system used by the Nintendo Switch video game console.

Nintendo Switch system software
Operating system and user interface of the Nintendo Switch
HAL Laboratory[1]
OS familyDerivative of Nintendo 3DS system software, derived from the Berkeley Software Distribution
Working stateCurrent
Source modelClosed source
Initial release1.0.0 / 3 March 2017 (2017-03-03)
Latest release9.1.0 / 4 December 2019 (2019-12-04)[2]
Available inAmerican English, British English, European French, Canadian French, German, Latin American Spanish, European Spanish, Italian, Dutch, European Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean
Update methodDirect download
Game Card
PlatformsNintendo Switch (Lite)
Preceded byNintendo 3DS system software
Wii U system software



Nintendo has released limited information about the Switch's internals into the public. Computer security researchers as well as developers of the Nintendo 3DS emulator Citra analyzed the operating system.[3][4][5] They found that the operating system's internal name is Horizon, that it is an evolution of the Nintendo 3DS system software, and that it implements a microkernel architecture.[3][5] All drivers run in userspace, including the Nvidia driver which the security researchers described as "kind of similar to the Linux driver". The graphics driver features an undocumented thin API layer, called NVN, which is "kind of like Vulkan"[3] but exposes most hardware features like OpenGL compatibility profile with Nvidia extensions. All userspace processes use Address Space Layout Randomization and are sandboxed.[3][5] According to the Nintendo Switch system software's licensing information, code from FreeBSD kernel is utilized by Horizon.[6]

Horizon utilizes several components from Android such as the Stagefright multimedia framework.[7] According to the Citra authors – who have also begun to develop a Switch emulator called yuzu – "Nintendo re-purposed the Android graphics stack and used it in the Switch for rendering."[4]

Rendering of web content is done via WebKit. Although an end-user web browser is not available on the console thus far, a WebKit applet is still accessible when connecting to a network that requires a web login, and the WebKit applet is also used for several operating system functions, such as the Nintendo eShop.[8]

Unlike previous consoles, Nintendo purposefully designed the system software to be as minimalist as possible, with the home menu running under 200 kilobytes. This minimalism is meant to improve system performance and launch games faster.[9]

User interface

Home Screen

The Nintendo Switch home screen has battery, internet and time information in the top right corner, and below it is a grid showing all software on the system, downloaded or physical. Underneath that it has shortcuts to OS functions such as the Nintendo eShop, settings, a sleep mode button and more.[10]


The News function of the Nintendo Switch software allows users to read gaming news and advertisements provided by Nintendo and third-party developers.[11] News is also displayed when the system is locked.

The News interface was originally available in the 1.0.0 version of the software, however new headlines were not transmitted until the 2.0.0 update was released. The 3.0.0 update revamped the News system, adding multiple news "channels" for different games that users can subscribe to. The news headlines that appear depend on which channels are subscribed to. The 4.0.0 update further improved the News screen, updating its layout. The 9.0.0 update added search support to the News channel, allowing users to narrow the list via filters or free text.[2]

Nintendo eShop

The Nintendo eShop option on the Home menu opens a WebKit-based interface that allows games to be purchased and downloaded from the Nintendo eShop.

The eShop offers select non-gaming apps. Niconico, a popular Japanese video service, launched for the Switch in Japan on 13 July 2017, and was the Switch's first third-party media app in any market.[12] Hulu was the first video streaming application released for the Switch in the United States on 9 November 2017.[13] A YouTube application was released on 8 November 2018.[14] Fils-Aimé said in June 2018 that conversations to bring Netflix to the Switch are "on-going".[15]

Korg Gadget, a music production app, was released for the Nintendo Switch on 26 April 2018.[16] InkyPen, a comics and manga subscription app, launched exclusively on the Switch worldwide on 17 December 2018.[17] Izneo, another comics and manga subscription service, was released for the Switch on 28 February 2019.[18] FUZE4, a text-based programming language app, was released in August 2019.[19]


The Album stores captured screenshots and videos. Pressing the "Capture" button on the controller, in supported software, will save a screenshot, either to the microSD card, or to the system memory. The Album allows users to view screenshots that have been taken. Screenshots can be edited by adding text, and they can be shared to Facebook or Twitter.[20] In addition, in supported games, holding down the Capture button briefly will save the last 30 seconds of video to the Album. It can then be trimmed and posted online.[21]

The 2.0.0 update added the ability to post screenshots to Facebook or Twitter from within the system UI, making it easier to share screenshots. The 4.0.0 update added support for saving 30 second videos, in compatible games.


The Controllers menu allows controllers to be paired, disconnected, or reconnected. The 3.0.0 update added the "Find Controllers" option, which allows any nearby controllers that have been paired to be remotely turned on and vibrated, to help find lost controllers.[22]


The Settings option allows for system settings to be changed, and includes other functionality, such as creating Miis.[23]

History of updates

The initial version of the system software for Nintendo Switch on the launch day consoles was updated as a "day one" patch on 3 March 2017, the console's launch date.[24] The update added online features that were previously missing from the original software before its official launch date. Some notable features of this update are access to the Nintendo eShop as well as the ability to add friends to a friends list, similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS.[25]

Nintendo Switch System Software Release History
Version Release date Features
1.0.0 Before console release Initial release of Nintendo Switch system software
2.0.0 3 March 2017 (2017-03-03)
  • Games can now be played online
  • Friends list added
  • Screenshots can now be posted to Facebook and Twitter
  • Nintendo eShop made available
  • Nintendo News added
  • My Nintendo reward points can now be earned for retail games
  • On TVs compatible with HDMI-CEC, the TV will automatically turn on when the Switch turns on
  • Battery percentage displayed on Home Menu
  • Added a microSD format option
2.1.0 27 March 2017 (2017-03-27)

Undisclosed changes

2.2.0 17 April 2017 (2017-04-17)

Undisclosed changes

2.3.0 15 May 2017 (2017-05-15)

Undisclosed changes

3.0.0 19 June 2017 (2017-06-19)
  • Channels for specific topics can now be subscribed to in News
  • Users can now send requests to people already on their Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists
  • Notifications for when friends go online
  • Paired controllers can now be found through the vibration feature
  • The order of user profiles can now be changed
  • 6 new Splatoon 2 profile icons added
  • Quick Settings now allows users to change the system volume
  • The maximum sound volume can now be altered
  • Inverted Colors and Grayscale color formats are now available
  • USB keyboards are now usable when docked
  • The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can now be used over a USB cable
  • Option in Settings to update the firmware of controllers
  • The system will automatically suggest software to delete when there is not enough space for a download

Undisclosed changes

3.0.1 31 July 2017 (2017-07-31)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Addressed an issue in which the remaining battery charge can't be displayed accurately
3.0.2 5 September 2017 (2017-09-05)
  • Added "Nintendo Switch Online" service
  • Online play now available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru (until 18 September 2018, when Nintendo Switch Online was released)

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes

4.0.0 18 October 2017 (2017-10-18)
  • Users can now hold the Capture button to record the last 30 seconds of gameplay to the Album
  • 12 profile pictures from Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have been added
  • User profiles and save data can now be transferred
  • Games on the Nintendo eShop can now be pre-ordered
  • New design for the News Feed
  • Unfollowing a news channel will now remove all of its content from the News feed until it is re-followed
  • New feature that allows a group of players to update their software
  • Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Korean languages are made available
  • Support for USB headsets
  • Support for USB controllers, such as GameCube Controllers via adapters

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes

4.0.1 25 October 2017 (2017-10-25)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Changed the HDMI connection process specification to match that of version 3.0.2 to address video and sound output issues with some TV models
4.1.0 4 December 2017 (2017-12-04)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Resolved an issue that caused motion controls to respond incorrectly when playing games that use this feature
5.0.0 12 March 2018 (2018-03-12)
  • Friends can now be added via Facebook and Twitter
  • 24 new profile pictures, based on Arms and the Kirby series
  • Purchases made using a PC or phone now start downloading faster
  • Filters added to News
  • Parental Controls PIN entry interface has been changed
  • Captured videos in Album are now restricted based on Parental Controls
  • Specific games can now be whitelisted using Parental Controls
  • A notification is now sent when pre-purchased software is made available to play
  • The UI now displays the color of Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers

Bug fixes, including:

  • Fixed a bug that caused an incorrect play time display on user pages
5.0.1 26 March 2018 (2018-03-26)

Undisclosed changes

5.0.2 16 April 2018 (2018-04-16)

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes, including:

  • Fix an issue that caused motion controls to respond incorrectly
  • Fix a display issue with icons for recommended friends
5.1.0 30 May 2018 (2018-05-30)

Undisclosed changes

6.0.0 18 September 2018 (2018-09-18)

Updates regarding Nintendo Switch Online

6.0.1 8 October 2018 (2018-10-08) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • Resolved an issue where internet connection test does not display correct results for download and upload speed
  • Resolved an issue where some licensed controllers' motion controls such as tilt function respond incorrectly
6.1.0 29 October 2018 (2018-10-29) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • Resolved an issue where certain games don't recognize a Nintendo Switch Online membership for a short time after purchase
6.2.0 19 November 2018 (2018-11-19)

Updates TSEC Encryption and Boot Process in an effort to combat console hacking/piracy/homebrew

7.0.0 28 January 2019 (2019-01-28)

General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience

7.0.1 18 February 2019 (2019-02-18) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
8.0.0 15 April 2019 (2019-04-15) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • A Sort Software feature is available after selecting to view All Software from the Home Menu
    • Software can be sorted by time last played, total play time, software title, and software publisher
    • The All Software option displays when there are 13 or more software icons on the Home Menu
  • A View All Available News option is available within News > Channel List > View More, allowing you to view all news items currently being distributed
  • Select from 15 new icons from the Splatoon 2 and Yoshi's Crafted World games for your user
  • A feature to Transfer Your Save Data is now available, allowing you to transfer your save data for individual games between your Nintendo Switch systems
    • Save data will not remain on your source system after the transfer process completes
  • A Zoom feature can be enabled from within System Settings
    • Once enabled, you can use the Zoom feature by pressing the Home Button twice
  • An option is available to prevent the system from waking from Sleep Mode when an AC adapter is disconnected
    • This also applies when undocking your console
  • A VR Mode (3D Visuals) restriction is available within Parental Controls
  • Hong Kong / Taiwan / South Korea is available for selection in Settings > System > Region
  • The following names have been changed (functionality remains the same)
    • Save Data Cloud Backup > Save Data Cloud
    • Transfer Your User and Save Data > Transfer Your User Data
8.0.1 23 April 2019 (2019-04-23) Undisclosed changes
8.1.0 17 June 2019 (2019-06-17)[26] General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience
9.0.0 9 September 2019 (2019-09-09) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • Resolved an issue where some users can’t start the Fire Emblem: Three Houses game, and get an error instead.
  • Added a search feature for the News Channel.
    • Channels can be searched using filters or free text.
  • Added "Display QR Code to Check In" to User Settings.
    • You can display a QR Code on-screen to check in using your Nintendo Account.
  • Alarm Notifications have been added to System Settings > Notifications.
    • You can check or delete pre-set alarms.
    • Alarms can be set up only within supported software (to be added at a later time).
    • A controller firmware update may be required to use this feature.
  • You can now configure touch screen sensitivity settings.
    • Select between Standard and Stylus sensitivity (optimized for stylus input).
  • Added the option to turn on/off the system button input (Nintendo Switch Lite only).
    • When this setting is turned off the system no longer receives input from the console buttons, with the exception of the Capture and HOME Buttons, and can only be operated from a wirelessly paired controller (sold separately).
    • This setting is on by default and can only be turned off if a compatible controller (sold separately) is wirelessly paired to the console.
    • The setting will automatically turn back on when the console is restarted or after returning from sleep mode.
  • Added "Online Play Invites" section to the User's page.
    • Invites from friends to join online play in supported software will be displayed in this section.
  • Added ability to use Super Nintendo Entertainment System Controller for Nintendo Switch with applicable titles.[27]
9.0.1 30 September 2019 (2019-09-30) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including a solution for the following:
  • Resolved an issue that may have triggered errors during game play.
  • Resolved an issue that may display an instruction to remove the Joy-Con during the initial setup of Nintendo Switch Lite.
9.1.0 4 December 2019 (2019-12-04) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including a solution for the following:
  • Resolved an issue where the color animation was not displaying correctly when attaching a Joy-Con controller to the Nintendo Switch console.


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