Hey, congrats on getting a Nintendo Switch! It’s fun to see Nintendo back on its game. Hopefully, you’re already playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but if not (or maybe if you need a break), try exploring some of the quirky features of your crazy new hybrid handheld console. Nintendo’s system has quite a few Easter eggs and hidden features you may not know about.
1. Turn on Your TV
True to its name, the Switch will turn on your TV for you, or switch its input when you boot it up. Booting it up is also wireless. Just press the Home button on your Joy-Con or Pro controller. If you don’t like the feature (not all TV’s are capable), turn it off in Settings > TV Settings > Match TV Power State.
2. Pair Joy-Cons with an Android Phone, Mac, or PC
Joy-Cons are living up to their name. I couldn’t help but smile when I discovered I could pair my Joy-Con or Pro Controller with an Android phone. Better yet, it works with Mac and PCs, too (though you’ll need an app like JoyToKey to map the buttons correctly on Windows). They work because Nintendo uses Bluetooth to connect them. Just hold down the small sync button on the top of the controllers for a few seconds and the lights on them will flash, letting you know they’re in pairing mode. Find them in the Bluetooth menu of your phone or computer and you’re good to go.
3. Check Your Battery Life Anytime
The Switch gets 3-6 hours of battery life, which is just low enough that it’s gonna stress you out sometimes. To see the battery life, and adjust a few other settings like volume and brightness, hold down the Home button while playing a game. After a second, the menu will pop right up! You can also have the Switch show the exact percent of battery remaining in the upper right of the home screen by holding ZL and ZR together, or toggle it on permanently in Settings > System > Console Battery (%).
4. Make Weird, Fun Sounds on the Unlock Screen
The Switch lets you unlock by pressing any button three times, but have you actually tried it? If you have, you’ll notice this software Easter egg. Most buttons sound the same, but the left control stick, right control stick, ZL trigger, and ZR trigger make odd, fun noises, like a clown horn. One other subtle thing to try: the clicky noise that the Switch makes when you tap in a random location is pressure sensitive. It gets deeper or higher pitched depending on how hard or soft you touch.
5. See How Long You’ve Played a Game
Ever wonder just how many hours you sunk into Zelda? It’s easy to check. Click on your Mii picture in the upper left corner of the Switch home screen. Click Profile once you’re in there to see a rough estimate of how much time you’ve wasted collecting Korok seeds. If you’ve added friends (you need their Friend Code), you can see what they’ve played lately, too! You can make a profile or stop sharing your playtimes in Settings > Users > [Your Name] > Friend settings.
6. Change Your Region to Access Region-Restricted Games
The days of needing a Japan-specific console to play some Japanese games are over. You can easily toggle your region in Settings > System > Region. So far, most games are available globally, but some titles may arrive in one region first. This list might help, if there’s a specific game you’re looking to play. One other benefit of switching from U.S. to a region like Europe: the box art changes for some games, like Breath of the Wild. You could also create a new user for each region.
7. View the Menu in Dark Mode
This is super easy, but try out the Dark Mode by selecting “Basic Black in Settings > Themes. It’s easier on the eyes than the default white background, especially if you’re using the Switch in handheld mode.
8. Attach a USB Keyboard or Headset
There are three USB ports on the Switch dock. You can plug in most any USB keyboard and it should work, letting you type in menus to enter stuff like passwords. Just keep in mind that you can’t actually play games with the keyboard. USB Bluetooth headsets also work. We were surprised to find that some of our PS4 headsets plugged right into the Switch. If you’re portable, you can get a USB-C adapter and plug in a Bluetooth headset using that (or just use the audio jack). Nintendo has a iOS/Android app that’s required to do voice chatting in games at the moment, though.
9. Perform a Hard Reset if It Freezes
The Switch is pretty stable, but there have been a couple times mine has frozen up in the last nine months. Turning the Switch off usually works by holding Power for a few seconds, until the restart menu opens. If that doesn’t happen, the best solution is to do a hard reset by holding down the power button for about 12 seconds or so (just keep holding). Once it powers down, wait 30 seconds and power it back up.
If your problems continue, you can try booting it into Maintenance Mode by holding the power button as you turn it on and then when the Nintendo logo appears, also pressing down on both volume buttons right next to it. This will let you factory reset it, or clean it out while attempting to save your data. Good luck!
10. Use Your Joy-Con Like a Wii Remote
If you’re feeling nostalgic, the Joy-Cons can be used with motion controls in some games. For instance, grab World of Goo on the Nintendo eShop, install it, and open it with a Joy-Con. The game will ask you to set the Joy-Con on a flat surface, then point it at the screen. Do this and then you can use it just like a Wii Remote, with an onscreen cursor and everything!
A Few Bonus Tips!
Since you just bought a Switch, be sure to check out our list of Must-Have Accessories. You may also want to buy this screen protector (I’ve used it and it doesn’t bubble) and a USB 3.0 Ethernet Adapter if you want to speed up your internet connection. Pro tip: the USB port inside the Switch dock is fastest.
Finally, if you’re hunting for games, here are a few random fun ones to try other than Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, which should be your first two purchases: Stardew Valley, Snipperclips, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Shovel Knight, Sonic Mania, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Arms, Rocket League, and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (if you want some fun 2+ player co-op action).
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