For complete guides to homebrew and custom firmware for other devices, check out Hacks.Guide.
Thoroughly read all of the introductory pages (including this one!) before proceeding.
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What is Homebrew?
Homebrew usually refers to software that is not authorized by Nintendo. This includes homebrew tools, applications, games, and emulators.
If your device is on firmware version 2.0.0 - 3.0.0, running homebrew on your device is 100% free using just the system browser. Lower firmware versions can update to 3.0.0 with the use of a game card. Higher firmware versions can block future updates in order to assure access to future exploits. If your device is on firmware version 1.0.0, you can run homebrew via a copy of the Japanese version of Puyo Puyo Tetris S.
What is Custom Firmware?
When released, Custom Firmware (“CFW”) will enable you to use more advanced hacks that userland homebrew can’t easily do. It is currently in development, and has a release scheduled for June 2018. For more details, see FAQ: Fusée Gelée.
Additionally, depending on available development time, it is possible that devices on firmware version 1.0.0 may see an earlier release of CFW due to a software-only vulnerability which is not present on later firmware versions.
If your device is on firmware version 1.0.0 and you are interested in early CFW access, your best current option is to follow this guide’s Blocking Updates page, pick up a Japanese copy of Puyo Puyo Tetris (which will be required for early 1.0.0 Custom Firmware), and wait patiently for a CFW release.
If your device is on a firmware version >=3.0.1, your best current option is to follow this guide’s Blocking Updates page and wait patiently for a CFW release.
What does this guide install?
This guide currently enables access to the Homebrew Launcher via a browser exploit, though “installed” is not a particularly good description. This is because the exploit must be re-run after every reboot in order to re-enable Homebrew Launcher access.
If you are familiar with iOS device “jailbreaking”, this idea could be considered analagous to a “semi-untethered jailbreak”.
What do I need to know before starting?
- While Switch hacks are constantly progressing, they are not yet in a very user-friendly state. As such, this guide may require some technical understanding in order to troubleshoot any issues which may come up.
- The scope of device modification is limited for most current homebrew, meaning there is little chance of data loss or console damage when using popular homebrew applications.
- This guide will work on all Switch devices on firmwares from 1.0.0 to 3.0.0, with all other versions having planned future support for CFW. Instructions are included for blocking updates on devices with firmware versions >=3.0.1.
- You will need a micro SD card for your device. It should be formatted as FAT32 and MBR, not GPT (most micro SD cards will be formatted this way by default).
- If your Switch won’t read your larger than 32GB micro SD card without a System Update, you can use guiformat on Windows to format it as FAT32 with an Allocation Unit Size of 32K (32768).