- What To Know Before Hacking Nintendo Switch
- What Is Homebrew?
- What Is Custom Firmware?
- How Do You Jailbreak The Switch?
- What You Can Do With Custom Firmware
The Switch, when it launched, was a different offering altogether. A far cry from the traditional boxy console design applied by Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo went their own route and developed a powerful yet portable machine designed to be enjoyed anywhere and with up to two players out of the box.
But, there is a way that you can tinker with the hardware to make other extremely advanced stuff accessible to you, and today we are going to talk about how to hack Nintendo Switch to do just that.
How to Hack Your Nintendo Switch
Before we get to the how, here is what you need to know before you explore the various CFW options and the exploits needed to get there –
Caveats to Jailbreaking Your Switch
- Always Create a Backup – Create a backup of your whole system before jailbreaking it and if any of the process goes awry, you can always come back to your backup, do a clean boot, and try again.
- Your Device Goes Out of Warranty – If your Switch is still under warranty, then it is best not to jailbreak for the time being. Once you install custom firmware, there is no going back. Your device is out of warranty and cannot be repaired for whatever deal Nintendo offers.
- You Cannot Play Online – Jailbroken devices with CFWs obviously cannot be connected to the internet to avoid getting bricked. So you can’t expect to play with your friends once you install Custom Firmware on your Switch.
Nintendo Switches can be broadly categorized into 5 designations: the V1 Switch Original or the unpatched Erista ones, the Patched V1 or the iPatched Erista, V2 also known as Mariko, the Switch Lite and the OLED Switch.
What you can or cannot do in terms of hacking a Switch is entirely dependent on which model you have. So make sure you know exactly which device you own.
What is Homebrew?
A term used to describe unauthorized and unsupported software which is compatible to run on a Switch, Homebrew is your ‘how to hack Nintendo Switch’ toolkit!
Homebrew includes custom firmware, games and other tools.
What is Custom Firmware?
Custom firmware is software that gives a wider range of access to the hardware than other bog-standard homebrew software do.
All Switches that have been sold before July 2018 can run all kinds of custom firmware, but only if they are on firmware 4.1.0.
Now let’s talk about the actual process of jailbreaking a Nintendo Switch.
So How To Hack Nintendo Switch?
Ok let’s get to it now!
There are two primary kinds of exploits that you can run to jailbreak your Switch.
Fusee-gelee is a non-persistent, tethered exploit that is possible through a bypass of the Nintendo Switch’s built-in Recovery Mode.
With a secondary device such as your PC or phone, you can enable CFWs on every reboot of your primary device.
This exploit allows you to take over the whole hardware by running even before the normal bootloader code can run, meaning that you can change anything that you need about Horizon (the OS the Switch runs on).
The second kind is known as Deja-vu, and it bypasses your Switch’s warmboot firmware or the code that is run when you put your device to sleep and then boot it back up.
Deja-vu also facilitates a full system takeover just like fusee-gelee, but it is a browser-based exploit, so you have to launch it through the browser every time you reboot into your stock firmware.
The latest Deja-vu implementations are Nereba (for FW 1.0.0) and Caffeine (for FWs 2.0.0-3.0.0 and 4.0.1-4.1.0. The exploit also can work in theory with 7.0.1, but this was patched in 8.0.0 and support might be added in the future.
What You Can Do with Custom Firmware
Now, let’s look at what you can do once you have jailbroken your Switch.
- You can customize your Home Menu to look however you want them to look, with custom wallpapers, themes and splash screens.
- You can edit your saves, create backups and restore them for a host of games
- Play older games via emulators through the Switch hardware.
- Update to the latest version without the fear of losing access to your homebrew.
Now that we know what custom firmware is and how you can implement it, you will need the following to successfully complete a jailbreak –
- A PC or Android device along with a USB cable through which you can transfer data to and from your Switch. However, note that this does not work on all Android phones.
- A Lightning/OTG adapter, a jailbroken iPhone, and a USB cable, in case you have an iPhone.
- Another thing you will need is a micro SD card with at least 64 GB of free memory.
Now we have all we need. Here’s what you can do to start the jailbreak –
- Find the serial number by going into System Settings.
- Check if your system is vulnerable using this list of patched/unpatched serial numbers from Github.
- If your serial number is “potentially patched”, you can check and see if the payload works.
- If “patched”, there is nothing you can really do about it. But we highly advise you to keep the version at 7.0.1 or lower if possible, as there might be vulnerabilities for higher versions in the future.
- Before you install or set up the console for homebrew, make sure to have at least one eShop game or demo and application installed. Avoid cartridges but if you must, they must be inserted.
How To Jailbreak Unpatched Nintendo Switch
There are two ways you can run a jailbreak on your unpatched Switch – sysNAND (system NAND, or internal storage) or emuNAND (emulated NAND, running off your SD card, separate from sysNAND).
We will use emuNAND as an example here and suggest it for you too.
- Power off the Switch and use one of the methods listed here to short the pins on the rail of the right JoyCon.
- While holding Volume Up, press the Power button.
- Install and run the latest release of TegraRcmGUI if you are on Windows.
- Download the latest release of Hekate, a payload.
- Download the latest release of TegraExplorer.
- Install and run TegraRcmGUI
- In the settings tab, press Install Driver. Follow the instructions on-screen.
- Connect your Switch in RCM to your PC using the USB cable.
- Navigate to the Payload tab in TegraRcmGUI.
- Once your Switch is shown as detected, press the file button next to inject payload, and select Hekate’s executable.
- Click Inject Payload again to launch the payload.
- Before the following, make sure you have a backup of your existing Nintendo folder on a separate device.
After you create a partition of the SD card and prepare it with the payload, as shown here and here, you will need to create the emuMMC.
- Enter RCM in your device to inject the Hekate payload.
- With the touch screen, navigate to emuMMC.
- Select Create emuMMC and select SD Partition
- Tap on Part 1. The system will start making the emuMMC. After finishing, return to the emuMMC menu using the Close buttons.
- Select Change emuMMC and then SD RAW 1
- Back to the main menu we go.
- The next step will require you to get your console’s unique keys, which you can do by following these instructions.
Launching the CFW
The prep work is done. We are ready to launch our custom firmware.
- Download the Atmosphere CFW.
- Power on your Switch into RCM, and inject the Hekate payload.
- Go to Launch, and then find Atmosphere FSSO EmuMMC and launch it.
- You are now inside your very own CFW! Launch the homebrew menu by opening the album or holding the R button while launching any game.
- If you want to add your own homebrew apps, place them in the Switch folder on your SD card.
There you go!
Now you know how to hack Nintendo Switch for dozens and dozens of free games and other software to enjoy. Why not start with the 13 best fighting games on the Switch?