If you’ve been itching to crack into your Switch, there are some things you can already do and others that are on the horizon.
Jailbreaking a device is a very bad idea if you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s also a terrible idea if it’s the only device you own. That being said, if you’re willing to experiment, take the risk, and have a second device you can mess around with, jailbreaking could give you the ability to do some really fun and interesting things on your Nintendo Switch.
Since the Switch is a new console, so is the jailbreaking community for it. As time goes by, though, more and more talented people will unlock the Switch’s operating system and share with us everything we can do with the new tools.
If you’re interested in jailbreaking your Switch, here’s everything we know about it so far.
What’s the latest news on jailbreaking Nintendo Switch?
July 10, 2018: N64 and GameCube games seen running on Nintendo Switch
A wide-open world of forced flexibility on the Nintendo Switch is getting tantalizingly close. Switch modder _Mizumi recently posted some videos of his Switch running games from various legacy Nintendo consoles. We saw Pokemon Snap from N64 running relatively smoothly. Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney from the Gameboy Advance is seen running, albeit with no sound. To top it all off there was a video posted of Super Smash Bros.Melee for the GameCube running silently and a little choppy but running none the less. These are the sort of exciting little tidbits that whet the appetite of the community to push the boundaries of what can be done on this awesome little handheld console. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
June 19, 2018: Nintendo has cracked down on piracy on Nintendo Switch
Celebrity hacker and one of the developers of the custom firmware for jailbroken Nintendo Switch devices, SciresM recently went into great detail, explaining just how application authorization works on Nintendo Switch and how easy it will be for the game company to identify and ban users that play games that have been pirated. He notes in his research that Nintendo can “actually perfectly detect whether a digital copy of a game has been legitimately purchased.”
Basically when you connect a game online (whether through online gameplay or updating a game’s software version), your console obtains an application authorization token. It’s here that Nintendo can track pirated content directly from your console. Client certificates are console-unique for the Switch.
Note that unlike the 3DS, this means that Nintendo can tell what console makes a given request. This means Nintendo can block misbehaving user’s certificates, leaving them permanently unable to use any of Nintendo’s network.
There are still some unknowns within this very detailed bit of information. For example, reddit users are wondering whether booting into the official Switch firmware to play games online will be affected if they’ve installed a custom firmware by jailbreaking their Switch via the Fusée Gelée launcher or Tegra X1 exploit. Some of the Switch jailbreak community are noting that they plan to buy a secondary Switch in order to keep one of them safe from possible banning (which I think is a very smart idea anyway). SciresM said it best at the bottom of his post on reddit’s SwitchHacks sub:
tl;dr: Don’t pirate games — it will lead to your console being banned from going online, and every banned early-hardware-revision switch is an enormous waste.
Read up on the details of how application authorization works on Nintendo Switch on the SwitchHacks sub.
What does jailbreaking a Switch mean?
If you’re new to the jailbreaking concept entirely, it basically means that the device’s operating system is accessible in a way that was never intended by the creators and developers of the operating system.
Accessing an operating system gives people the ability to add new features, like installing Linux, downloading modifications to the Home screen, custom firmware, and other such things.
Currently, specific to the Switch, there isn’t much that you can do with a jailbroken device unless you’re handy with coding. If you go the route of installing the Homebrew Launcher using a Switch running software version 3.0.0 on the Switch, you can start using SwitchBrew.
It also means that any warranty you have on your Nintendo Switch will be null and void because you’ll be breaking the user contract you agreed to when using the Switch.
What do I need to get started with jailbreaking my Nintendo Switch?
If you want to use the HomeBrew launcher. your Switch has to be running firmware 3.0.0.
If your Switch’s firmware is below 3.0.0, you can update to 3.0.0 by using a physical copy of the game Pokkén Tournament DX with the cartridge identification number 000. Some versions of Pokkén Tournament DX are numbered 001 or 002 and will update your Switch’s firmware to 3.0.1. The ID number is imprinted on the back side of the game cartridge itself, so you have to open the game’s box before you’ll know if you have the right print run of Pokkén Tournament DX.
You’ll also need a microSD card with about 32GB of storage. It’s not recommended to go with a higher storage count because it might not work well with the Switch’s older firmware 3.0.0.
If you want to jailbreak your Switch using Fusée Gelée or SofEL2, you’ll need a computer with a USB 3.0 port (with some exceptions) and a USB-C to USB-A cable to connect your Switch to your computer. The Fusée Gelée instructions note that you’ll have to short out two pins on your right Joy-Con controller in order to trigger recovery mode on your Switch.
How do I jailbreak my Switch?
I’ll have a dedicated guide to jailbreaking your Switch as soon as I do so myself and understand the process well enough to explain it to you.
To be clear, you should never jailbreak your “daily driver” Nintendo Switch. What I mean by that is, you should have a second Switch that is dedicated solely to jailbreaking. If you don’t have a dedicated Switch for jailbreaking, don’t do it at all. It’s just not worth it right now.
Can you un-jailbreak a Switch?
At this time, I haven’t seen any information about how to uninstall the Homebrew Launcher, but it appears that the Fusée Gelée and SofEL2 exploits happen during the device boot and have to be rebooted every time you turn on your Switch. When I have a little more clarity on this, I’ll explain it in detail.
Remember, jailbreaking of Nintendo Switch is still in its infancy and there isn’t much information available. I can answer questions about it to the best of my ability if you put them in the comments section.