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How to connect a Nintendo Switch to your TV

Nintendo's most recent console generation is unique in its ability to be undocked and used as a mobile gaming device. But, when you want that big-screen gaming experience, it's important to make sure your Switch and its dock are connected to your TV correctly.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer
A Nintendo Switch being placed in its dock with Zelda: Breath of the Wild playing on it

We'll focus on the original Nintendo Switch, but the OLED version uses the exact same connection process. 

ZDNET

Nintendo's Switch was a first-of-its-kind moment in console gaming, bringing together the mobile playability of previous offerings, like the Nintendo DS or Gameboy line with the motion controls and big-screen compatibility of the Switch. 

The company wisely made the process of switching between these two modes as easy as dropping your Switch handheld unit into its included dock. 

But, you'll still need to connect that dock's video output to your TV to get started. 

Also: The best Nintendo Switch accessories

We're going to show you how to do just that in only a couple of minutes. 

How to connect a Nintendo Switch to you TV

Requirements 

You'll need your Nintendo Switch and its included dock, your TV of choice, and an HDMI cable (included with the Switch). The process should only take a couple of minutes, maybe even less.  

1. Open the rear door on the Switch dock

Your Nintendo Switch connects to your TV through its included dock's HDMI Out port. This is true for both the original Switch and the more recent OLED model

For the both the original and OLED docks, you need to pop open a rear door to access this port. Simply place your finger beneath the door and pull until it pops open. Once inside, you'll see the I/O ports shown in the image above, or a nearly identical set of ports for the OLED version. 

The inside of the Nintendo Switch's rear panel

The only difference in the OLED model is the presence of a "LAN" port  in place of the USB port, included in the original Switch's dock. 

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

2. Connect your HDMI cable to the Switch's HDMI Out port

Both Nintendo Switch models output at 1080p resolution, so just about any decent HDMI cable will be fine for use with them. That said, the original and OLED Switch both include good quality cables, so I'd recommend using them, unless you have a specific need for a longer cable or angled connector.

Review: Nintendo Switch OLED Model

Whichever cable you use, the process is the same. Simply plug one end into the HDMI Out port on the back side of your Switch's dock. Once this is done, and all of your other required cables (power and USB or LAN) are also connected, you can close up the Switch's back panel with your cables routed out of the provided opening. 

The Nintendo Switch Dock's HDMI Out port

The flat part of the HDMI connector goes toward the dock, a fact that can sometimes be hard to see if you've already put your dock in place in your entertainment center.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

3. Connect your HDMI cable to you TV

The last step needed for this process is to connect the other end of your HDMI cable to your TV. To do this, find the I/O panel for your TV. It's usually on the back or side of the unit. There you should see one or more HDMI ports labeled HDMI In or simply HDMI, usually with numbers corresponding to the input setting in your TV's menu.

Find an empty port and plug the other end of the cable you connected to your Switch into the TV there. Finally, turn on your TV and set it to the correct input for the port you chose, HDMI 1 for HDMI In 1, for example. 

Also: The 5 best Nintendo Switch games 

The HDMI ports on the back of an LG monitor

Expect the I/O panel on your display to look something like this.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

FAQs

Why is my Nintendo Switch not connecting to my TV? 

First, check that all connections are secure, including both ends of your HDMI cable and the Switch's power cable. Next, make sure the Nintendo Switch handheld is correctly seated in its dock and powered on. Finally, ensure that your TV is set to the correct input for the HDMI port the switch is connected to, the HDMI 1 input for HDMI In 1, for example. If you confirm all of these aspects of your hardware connection are correct and still don't see output, try a different HDMI cable or HDMI port on your TV as the first of either of these could be faulty. Remaining issues might, unfortunately, include hardware problems with your Switch, its dock, or your TV. 

Can I connect my Switch to the TV without the included dock? 

Yes. If you want to hook your Switch up at a friend's house, or vacation home, you don't need to bring your whole dock. However, you will still need some form of adapter. This could be a smaller travel-sized dock, a dongle that connects to the Switch's USB-C port to provide the necessary video and power ports, or even a USB-C to HDMI adapters you already own for your laptop. Just make sure whichever model you choose specifies that it is compatible with Nintendo's Switch.

How do I connect to my Nintendo Switch to my TV wirelessly?

Unfortunately, there's really no useful way to wirelessly connect your Nintendo Switch to your TV. While you can use a wireless HDMI adapter, you'd still need to connect a wired transmitter dongle to your Switch, which sort of ruins the "wireless" portion of this idea. The Switch also doesn't support built-in casting technologies like Google Cast or Apple's AirPlay. However, you can use your disconnected Joy-Con controllers, or other compatible wireless controllers, wirelessly while your Switch is docked to the TV. 

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