Nintendo Switch: How to Remap Controller Buttons

A recent Nintendo Switch update lets you remap your controller buttons for every game. Here's how to do it!

Nintendo Switch
Photo: Nintendo

While some Nintendo Switch system updates are relatively minor, the console’s latest update includes the long-awaited ability to remap your controller layouts for all games via the Switch system menus. 

Basically, that means that you no longer have to go into the options menu of individual games in order to change your controller layout. You can now set a universal controller layout rule that will carry over to each game you play. Of course, you’ll still have the option of changing that layout as needed for each title should you prefer to do so.

As you can imagine, this is a tremendously powerful feature that has the potential to make some games significantly more accessible. While setting up these custom controls is a relatively easy process, there are a few things you’ll need to know about this feature, what it can do, and (most importantly of all) the things it can’t yet do. With that in mind, let’s dive into the basics. 

To start, you’ll need to visit the new Switch menu options that allow you to set universal remap rules. Fortunately, doing so only requires you to follow these simple steps:

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  1. Download the latest Nintendo Switch system update
  2. Go to the Nintendo Switch’s System Settings menu
  3. Access the Controllers and Sensors section
  4. Navigate to Change Button Mapping

Here, you’ll be presented with a surprising number of options. The most basic features will allow you to simply “swap” the face buttons so that one performs the functions of the other. For instance, you can make the A button function as the B button would in all games. Just go through the button mapping options on the screen and swap everything around as needed.

If you get annoyed with how standard button layouts work in such instances, then you may find that such universal rules offer a welcome alternative to changing your settings in every game. You can even save up to five custom configurations, which makes it that much easier to just swap between your preferred setups based on the game that you’re playing or your general layout preferences.

One of the more interesting options this update also unlocks is the ability to manipulate your Joy-Cons orientation functionality. Along with being able to alter the mapping of the buttons of each Joy-Con, you’re also able to account for the positioning of each controller. In other words, you can make it easier to expand the functionality of an individual Joy-Con whether it’s in a vertical or horizontal position. This not only makes it easier to use split Joy-Cons as a two-player couch co-op option, but it makes it that much easier to play games like Mario Kart with a Joy-Con in the horizontal position. 

While this update makes the Nintendo Switch more versatile than ever, it does come with a couple of catches. Namely, this controller remap update only works with Joy-Cons, Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers, and the Nintendo Switch Lite. That means you won’t be able to use it for third-party controllers or any controllers you may get to work on the Switch through homebrew hacks. While it’s a little annoying that peripherals like the Nintendo Switch GameCube controller are not currently supported, this is a significant step forward in terms of Nintendo making the Switch feel like a more “modern” console.