How to use Bluetooth headphones on the switch: connect the AirPods to the Nintendo Switch

Change AirPods from Bluetooth audio
Image: Nintendo Life

A firmware update for the Nintendo Switch has enabled the use of wireless headphones directly with the console (without the need for a third-party external dongle or a workaround for using Apple AirPods, Powerbeats, and other popular Bluetooth headphones with the system.

In this Nintendo Switch Wireless Headphone Connection Guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to connect your AirPods to the Switch and also see how to adjust the Switch’s maximum headphone volume to your liking.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Headset Connection Guide

In this Switch wireless headphones guide, we’ll go over how to connect Bluetooth headphones to the Switch, as well as some common issues that come up and questions you might have.

Let’s start with the basics …

How to connect Apple AirPods to Switch

First navigate to ‘System settings’ on the main screen (the second circular icon from the right along the bottom) and scroll down to ‘Bluetooth audio’ in the left column.

Note – You will need to make sure your Switch is up to date with the latest firmware – the Bluetooth audio update came with version 13.0.0 – to check the system version, scroll down to the bottom of the ‘System Settings’ column on the left for ‘System’. Right under ‘System Update’ it should show your ‘Current System Version: XX.X.X’.

Tap ‘Add device’ and the system will start searching for discoverable Bluetooth audio devices. As the message tells you, you will need to make sure that the Bluetooth device (headset, speaker, etc.) is in discoverable mode and not locked on another device.

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For Apple AirPods, for example, that means you will have to put the AirPods in their case, open the lid, and hold the button on the case until it starts to flash a white light (other varieties of Bluetooth headphones may have a different method. to enter discoverable mode: refer to the instructions for your specific earphones or headphones).

Once the console identifies it, select device to pair the console with your headphones. Work done!

How do I adjust the volume of my headphones on Switch?

Press and hold the Home button (on the right Joy-Con) and a menu will appear allowing you to adjust the volume of the connected headphones (as well as the brightness of the screen).

IMG 5663

Can I use wireless headphones with my Switch in docked mode?


We switch from portable device to portable mode again without interruption or disconnection of BT audio.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Audio Issues FAQ

Wired headphones are so 20th century
Wired headphones are so 20th century (Image: Nintendo)

Anyone with experience with Bluetooth audio devices has probably had connection problems at some point. It’s probably good to remember that Bluetooth was never originally designed to transfer audio with a large volume of data, and problems can arise for a number of reasons.

In this section, we present common problems that come up with solutions and explanations. We will update this guide with more questions and solutions.

My AirPods won’t connect to Switch

If your headphones don’t appear discoverable on your Switch, or if they won’t connect despite being previously paired with your Switch, your connection to other the device could be preventing them from pairing with your console.

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For example, if your AirPods are connected to your iPhone, they will not be able to connect to your Switch. In that case, you’ll want to disable Bluetooth on your phone (on an iPhone you can swipe up from the bottom and hit the Bluetooth icon to quickly disable BT without going into Settings).

I put my Switch to sleep mode and now my AirPods won’t reconnect

If you are gaming and then press the standby button to enter sleep mode, your headphones will disconnect from the switch.

Assuming you haven’t fixed them with a different device, the Bluetooth headphones should automatically reconnect to the Switch; Depending on the AirPods you’re using, you may need to remove them from your ears briefly for the connection to (re) register (we found this necessary with our AirPod Pros).

It’s too quiet! How do I make my headphones sound louder on Switch?

Some people experience very low volume with AirPods and other Bluetooth headphones on the Switch.

Although it seems that the maximum volume is always below that of other audio devices (we switched to wired Apple headphones to test and found the maximum volume noticeably louder, uncomfortable, but obviously your mileage will vary here), you may have a ‘ Lowest Maximum Headphone Volume ‘enabled.

The ‘Lower maximum headphone volume’ setting is found in the ‘System’ settings rather than the ‘Bluetooth Audio’ section (at the bottom of the column in the main System Settings menu) and is designed to avoid accidental hearing damage.

5. Nintendo Switch Lower the maximum volume of the headphones deactivated

If you have this enabled, just tap on the option to disable it (if you have parental controls turned on, you’ll need to enter your PIN to unlock it – check the attached Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app to find your PIN if you’ve forgotten that.

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With the ‘Lowest Maximum Headphone Volume’ turned off, we found the audio to be comfortable at full volume with AirPods and obviously easier to listen to with AirPod Pros noise cancellation enabled. However, the maximum volume when using Apple AirPods seems to be noticeably quieter than other brands.

We will update with more information after further testing.

I can’t connect controllers while using Bluetooth headphones

This is one of the limits that Nintendo highlights: a maximum of two controllers can be connected to a console while using Bluetooth audio.

For two players using only one Joy-Con each, that will be fine. However, if you are playing in Tabletop mode and a person wants to use, say, a Pro Controller, a small message will appear reminding you that:

Up to two wireless controllers can be used during Bluetooth audio.

It should be noted that playing local multiplayer with multiple switches will also disable Bluetooth audio.

Can I use my Bluetooth microphone for voice chat?

No, unfortunately this is another restriction. Nintendo explicitly states that:

Bluetooth microphones cannot be used.

Why is the audio lagging behind the on-screen action?

Bluetooth may have become an industry standard for quickly transferring data between devices, but it’s not the best when it comes to high-quality audio and you may notice some lag in the audio.

The length of the delay will vary depending on your device. As an example, while using AirPods, we found that the sound of Sonic’s jump (in Sonic 2) is not heard until the character approaches the top of the jump. Audio lag is noticeable and can have a negative effect if game audio is critical to the game.

Playing something like Cadence of Hyrule, for example, which relies on precisely pressing buttons at a beat, would be tricky. However, in other games you may not even notice the audio lag. It all depends on what you are playing and how sensitive you are.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you. We will update you over time, so if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below and we will do our best to address them.