Nintendo Switch Console

Over time, most Nintendo Switch games receive free online updates that fix bugs and add new features. Sometimes, the updates even add major features to the game, such as new levels or characters. Here’s how to make sure your games are updated.

First, See if Auto-Update is Turned On

By default, the Nintendo Switch automatically checks for software updates when you are connected to the internet. If it finds an update, the system will download and install it. Because it’s possible to turn this feature off, here’s how to make sure Auto-Update is active.

First, launch System Settings by selecting the gear icon on the Nintendo Switch Home screen.

Nintend Switch: Select System Settings on Home Screen

In the list on the left side of the screen, navigate down to System. Then scroll down the settings page until you locate the “Auto-Update Software” option. Toggle it to “On.”

Select Auto-Update Software in Nintendo Switch Settings

There may be situations when you’d like to turn off Auto-Update—for example, you might need to save download bandwidth, preserve limited system storage, or avoid downloading an accidentally buggy game patch—but, in general, it’s a good idea for most people to keep this feature on.

If you prefer to keep the Auto-Update feature turned off (or if you don’t want to wait for Auto-Update to do its work), you can check for updates manually.

Check for a Game Update By Launching It

There are three ways to manually check for Nintendo Switch game updates. The first is to simply attempt to launch a game. If you are connected to the internet when you launch and there is an update available, an update message will pop up.

Select “Download,” and the game update will download and install automatically.

A new update is available message on Nintendo Switch

When the download is complete, the game will launch. If you want to check other games, you can then return to the Home screen and attempt to launch those as well, but it may be quicker to use the second update method.

Manually Check for a Game Update From the Menu

The second way to manually check for updates is through the Options menu. On the Home screen, position the selection cursor over the game you’d like to update.

A game is highlit with the cursor on the Nintendo Switch home screen

Push the + (Plus) button, and the Software Options screen will pop up. Navigate to the “Software Update” section, then select “Via The Internet.”

Select Update Via the Internet on Nintendo Switch

A message that says, “Checking For Updates” pops up. If there are no updates available, you will see a screen that says, “You are using the latest version of this software.”

If there are updates available, the system will begin downloading the software.

A message in the Options game showing the update downloading on Nintendo Switch

Return to the Home screen. There, you can check the progress of the update download by watching the status bar at the bottom of the game’s icon.

The Nintendo Switch home screen download progress bar

When the update is complete, you’re free to start playing.

Update Games From Another Switch (Without the Internet)

In System Software version 4.0.0, Nintendo introduced a third method to manually update games called “Match Version With Local Users.” This method makes sure that two or more people playing a game via local communications are all running the same version of the game.

To do this, start at the Home screen and highlight the software you’d like to update. Press the + (Plus) button and the Options screen will appear. Navigate to “Software Update” and select “Match Version Wwith Local Users.”

Select Match Version with Local Users on Options Menu for Nintendo Switch

You will see a screen that shows a cartoon of three people playing Switches. Select “Next.”

On the following screen, someone in the group must select “Create Group.” Then other switch users in the group must go to the same screen in Options and choose “Join Group.”

Create Group or Join Group for updating software on Nintendo Switch

Once everyone has joined the group, the group creator should select “Start Communication.”

Select Start Communication on Nintendo Switch

If there is an update someone doesn’t have, that person’s game will be updated to match the latest version present in the group. Have fun playing!

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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