Joy-Cons are great for what they are, but they have some big faults. Aside from their infamous drifting issues, the controllers are less than ideal to hold, especially if you have large hands, and have tiny buttons that make precise gameplay difficult. The Switch Pro Controller fixes many of those issues. At $90, it’s a bit expensive (though cheaper than two new Joy-Cons), but it’s an excellent gaming device that lives up to the “pro” label. Provided it works.
When your $90 investment suddenly stops working, it’s no fun. But it doesn’t necessarily mean game over. It might start like this: You hit the HOME Button on your Pro Controller, but nothing happens. The battery must be dead, right? So, you plug the controller into your Switch dock, but the charging LED doesn’t light up. Weird. Maybe it’s really dead, and needs to charge overnight. Night comes and goes, but still, no charging light.
At this point, you might throw in the towel. The Pro Controller obviously has some sort of defect. Time to pack it up, send it to Nintendo for repair, and deal with Joy-Cons until the Pro Controller is fixed.
Except, your Pro Controller might not be broken. The problem might have an easy fix — your Pro Controller may have simply unpaired itself from your Switch, and needs to be re-paired (not repaired) to start working again.
How to fix a Switch Pro Controller that won’t charge
To re-pair a Switch Pro controller, unplug it from your dock, then hit the SYNC button next to the charging port on top of the controller. That’s it. With any luck, your controller will return from the dead, and retain the ability to both charge as well as power on and control your Switch.
This tip comes to us from this Reddit thread, where user imnotgoats went through the five stages of grief when their Pro Controller became unresponsive, and was all ready to open the device up and replace its battery or board (which iFixit would be happy to walk you through) when they found a simple press of the SYNC button was all that was needed.
It’s an interesting problem, because normally, plugging the Pro Controller into the dock with your Switch connected pairs the controller with the system automatically. Why that process breaks down occasionally is a mystery, but, luckily, the SYNC button still exists for wireless pairing purposes.
Alternative solutions to fix a broken Pro Controller
If this SYNC button trick doesn’t work for you, rule out a few other factors before sending it out for repair or buying a new one. Test the USB cable you’re using to connect the Pro Controller to your Switch dock to make sure it’s working. Similarly, check that you can charge other items with the Switch dock itself, or test one of the other USB ports. Nintendo also recommends trying a new dock, if possible, but unless you have a friend with one nearby that they’re willing to lend you, that’s not a very realistic troubleshooting step.