In this guide, I will show you how you can install the Atmosphere Custom Firmware on your Nintendo Switch. Please be aware that this method only works for the V1 Nintendo Switch, since the method used in this guide is based on the RCM exploit that was patched in the later releases of the Switch. To make sure that you have a compatible and hackable Nintendo Switch, head over to this website and fill in the serial number of your Switch.
Once you’ve made sure that you got yourself an unpatched Nintendo Switch, you can follow this guide!
Before we can start this tutorial, you need to make sure that you have the following items on hand:
- Nintendo Switch V1 (see above);
- Micro SD card (at least 64 GB if you want to setup EmuMMC, which I highly recommend);
- Micro SD card to USB adapter;
- An RCM Jig;
- A USB-C to USB-A cable
Note: You can find all recommended items for the Nintendo Switch and purchase links to Amazon here.
Also, just to be safe, make sure to enable Flight Mode on your Nintendo Switch to avoid getting banned while installing the Atmosphere CFW. If you follow this guide carefully, you will be able to connect to the internet and eShop afterwards.
2. Preparing the Micro SD card
Now that you have the necessary equipment for this tutorial, you need to download a few files to get up and running. To make life easy, I have downloaded all the files myself and created a .zip file that you can use. You can find the download link here.
However, since the CFW and Homebrew files get updated quite frequently, I recommend you to download all the files manually, so you’re always using the most up-to-date software files. If you don’t want to use my precompiled bundle, you will need the following:
- Atmosphere (both the latest .zip file and fusee.bin);
- Signature patches (if you want to be able to install .XCI and .NSP files);
- EmuMMC.txt (a DNS blocker to avoid unwanted connections with Nintendo servers);
Once you have downloaded all these files, extract the .zip files and place the extracted files on your desktop. Please make sure to place the EmuMMC.txt file in the atmosphere/hosts directory. If you do not have a hosts folder, you can simply create one. Moreover, copy the fusee.bin file over to bootloader/payloads as we will need to boot to Atmosphere through Hekate the first time around.
With the exception of TegraRCM, all the files should now be transferred over to your Exfat or FAT32 (FAT32 is recommended) formatted SD Card. Afterwards, you should have something similar like this:
If your SD card looks like the screenshot above, you’re good to go to the next step. If not, you can always refer back to my precompiled .zip file.
3. Booting to RCM (Recovery Mode)
Now that we have all the necessary files ready to go, please make sure to power off your Switch and insert the Micro SD card. Next, grab your RCM Jig and slide the Jig in the right joycon rail with the pins facing down. Make sure to push it all the way down so the two metal points make contact with the pads on the Switch.
Next, you need to press and hold the power button and the volume up button at the same time. If the Jig is inserted correctly, the screen should stay black. If your Switch powers on, it means that the Jig is not seated properly. Simply power off your Switch and try again. Now you can plug the Switch into your PC using a USB-C to USB-A cable.
On your PC, you can open the TegraRCMGUI.exe file we downloaded earlier. You may need to install the Nintendo Switch driver first if you get a popup once you open TegraRCM, so go ahead and do so. You should see an RCM OK picture in the bottom left. If not, make sure that you are using a high quality USB cable and that your Switch is in RCM mode. Also, if you have just installed the Nintendo Switch driver, you may have to reconnect the Switch to your PC.
Once your Switch is recognized, click on the folder and search icon and locate the downloaded hekate.bin file. You should now have something like this:
Simply hit Inject payload and your Switch should boot to the Hekate interface. If nothing happens on your Switch, boot to RCM mode again and give it another try. If your Switch continues to fail to boot to Hekate, you may have a patched Nintendo Switch. In that case, you won’t be able to get Atmosphere up and running.
4. Booting into Hekate & Creating EmuMMC
If your Switch accepted the hekate.bin payload file we sent to it using TegraRCM, you should be greeted by the Hekate menu.
Now that you have successfully booted Hekate, I highly recommend you to create an EmuMMC partition. This way, we are effectively going to create a copy of the internal NAND storage to the Micro SD card. As a result, we can leave our internal NAND storage clean from any CFW files and run Atmosphere completely from the Micro SD card. In the case of a failure within Atmosphere, our internal storage will remain unaffected. Moreover, you significantly decrease the chances of being banned from the Nintendo servers if you care about that. There is simply no reason to not setup and use EmuMMC.
To start setting up an EmuMMC partition, you want to go to the emuMMC page from within the Hekate main menu. Then, click on create EmuMMC and select SD Partition. You will now be brought to a new partition screen, in which you can create a new partition for the Switch. This screen may seem daunting at first, but all you have to do is drag the red slider to the right, effectively creating a 32 GB partition that will be used to copy over all the files from the NAND flash. You should end up with something looking like this:
Simply click on Next Step and the process of partitioning the Micro SD card will start. Then, simply exit out of this menu and go back to the EmuMMC page from the Hekate main menu. Now, once you select create EmuMMC, you should be able to click on Partition 1. The Switch will now copy over all the files from the NAND to the Micro SD card. Since the NAND contains roughly 30 GB of data, this process may take anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour, depending on the speed of your Micro SD card. Once the process is finished, you should end up with the following:
5. Booting to Atmosphere CFW
After the SD partition has been created, exit out of this menu and go back to the main menu of Hekate. Simply go to Payloads and select the fusee.bin file. If you do not see this file listed here, make sure that you have copied over the fusee.bin file to the SD/bootloader/payloads folder on your Micro SD Card.
You should now see the Atmosphere splash screen and boot logo, after which the Nintendo and Switch logos should pop up. Finally, you should be greeted by the lockscreen of your Switch. To make sure that you are running on the Atmosphere CFW, open up the settings menu and scroll down to the About section. You should see the following:
6. Final remarks
Congratulations! You now know how to install the Atmosphere CFW on your Nintendo Switch! However, you may be wondering if and how you can power off or reboot the Switch to the official firmware or back into the custom firmware.
To boot to the official firmware from within the custom firmware, you can hold down the power button until you see the power menu to power off the Switch and to boot back into the official firmware (note that clicking on Reboot will boot the Switch to Hekate). Once you rebooted to the official firmware, you can safely disable flight mode and connect to the internet on the official firmware. You can also access the eShop and play your games online.
To boot to the custom firmware from the official firmware, you first need to power off the Switch. You then need to put the Switch back into the Recovery Mode by using the RCM Jig or paperclip. Inject the hekate.bin file and go to Payloads in Hekate to boot to Atmosphere with the fusee.bin file.
If you don’t want to use a PC and TegraRcmGUI every time you want to boot to Atmosphere, you can also use a payload injector to boot to Atmosphere. You can find the payload injector on Amazon, using the links mentioned on the Recommended Products page.
If you ran into any issues following this guide or if something is still unclear to you, you can always join the Discord server and ask for help!