The coolest part of owning a Nintendo Switch is picking it up from the dock and taking Zelda with you in the car (…or to the bathroom). Every time you do, though, the countdown to a dead battery begins ticking. Fortunately, there are some small things you can do to squeeze a little extra juice out of your game.

Lower the Brightness on Your Display

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The display is almost always the biggest battery killer on any device. It takes a lot of electrons to keep all those pixels lit up. For that reason, turning your display brightness down will help conserve battery life, and it’s easy to do. Hold down the Home button to pull up the quick settings overlay and slide the brightness slider to the left.

Note that turning down the brightness will make it harder to see in broad daylight, so you may have to adjust as needed. But lowering the brightness can definitely give you a bit more game time.

Turn On Airplane Mode

Airplane mode is so useful for saving battery, it may as well be called “Emergency Please Don’t Die, Battery” mode. It cuts off all wireless communication, which in turn conserves power. You can access Airplane Mode from the same quick settings panel where you found the brightness slider. Simply enable this toggle and your Switch will use less power.

Keep in mind, however, that the Switch needs wireless communications to talk to the Joy-Con controllers when they’re not attached to the Switch. As long as they’re physically connected to the tablet portion in hand-held mode, then you can keep playing like normal. However, you’ll need to turn off Airplane Mode if you want to detach the controllers and prop up your Switch on its kickstand. You’ll also need to turn it off if you want to play any online games.

Play Less Processor-Intensive Games

This may be a bit of a hard ask, given the current selection of Nintendo Switch games, but it’s worth considering. The bigger and more complicated a game is, the harder the Switch has to work to pump out those graphics. So, for something like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, your battery life will be gone faster than a Traveler’s Claymore.

If you want to make your game time last longer, try sticking to some simpler games. For example, Human Resource Machine is a comparatively light puzzle game that uses programming concepts to accomplish tasks. Yes, it’s not quite the same as climbing up cliffs and riding Epona around. But if you’re trying to make a six hour plane trip less boring, you might be better off with a less exciting game for the full trip rather than three hours of Zelda and three hours of a dead battery.

Turn the Console Completely Off When You’re Not Playing It

When you put the Switch to sleep, it’s surprisingly power efficient, reportedly burning only 2% of its battery after eight hours. However, that can add up over time. If you’re on vacation, traveling, or just can’t stop to plug in your console every night, you can at least save some power by turning the console completely off.

To do this, hold the power button for about three seconds, and choose Power Options > Turn off from the menu. To turn your console back on after this, simply press the power button. The console will take slightly longer to boot up than usual, but it saves more power than simply using sleep mode.

Profile Photo for Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium's OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker.
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