Every “normal” (Lite excluded), Nintendo Switch comes with a dock. The small stand is responsible for recharging the console ( along with its Joy-Cons) and allowing you to play on the TV via an HDMI cable.
The dock is a reliable gadget that isn’t hard to use, but let’s say that you lost your dock, or maybe it broke, or you just find it uncomfortable to have it around. In that case, can you use your Nintendo Switch even if you don’t have a dock?
The answer is yes, with a caveat. As said before, the dock has two main uses: Charging and connecting to the TV. If you don’t have a dock, you will need another accessory to replace these functions.
(As an aside, if you have a Switch Lite, then your console doesn’t come with a dock, it comes with an AC adapter for charging. Currently, there’s no way to connect your Nintendo Switch Lite to a TV.)
Charging your Nintendo Switch without a dock
The most important use of the Dock is to recharge your Switch. Without energy, the console might as well be dead.
So, how can you give your Switch energy without a dock? Well, the Switch already comes with an AC adapter, you can use it to recharge the console by connecting it directly to the Switch and then to a power socket.
If you don’t have the AC adapter, you need a USB Type-C cable. You can connect that cable to the bottom of the Switch and then to a power source, like a computer, and it will charge up.
It’s important to have the right cable for the job. Not all USB cables are alike, you will need a Type-C specifically, they look like this:
Do note that charging directly with a cable might be slower than usual. For some games, it might not be enough to keep pace with the battery drain.
There is a final way to recharge your Switch, you can buy a Power Bank. Power banks are similar in concept to a battery; you charge them up, plug-it to your Switch, and then the console will draw energy off it.
Power banks are normally used to make sure that you don’t run out of batteries while playing away from home, but they can also be used as a roundabout way to charge your console.
Connecting your Switch to a TV without a dock
Connecting your Switch to the TV without a dock is a bit harder than charging it. For now, the only way to play in your TV without using the official dock is to buy a multiport hub, like this one on Amazon.
These devices allow you to connect your HDMI cable to the Nintendo Switch. They serve the same function as a dock but are a lot more portable.
You might wonder if you can use this adapter to connect the Switch to your laptop or computer monitor, the answer depends on the machine itself. The Switch needs to be connected to an HDMI input port, while most modern computers have HDMI output ports.
What does “output port” mean? It means that you can use these ports to project your computer onto a projector or a TV screen, but not the other way around. If your computer only has an output port, it cannot receive the information from the Switch and project the game. If it has an input port, it should work.
It should also be noted that only the original Switch can (theoretically) connect to a laptop or other device, the Lite lacks these capabilities, as it doesn’t have the hardware necessary to interface with any external monitor.
Owning and playing a Switch without a dock is possible. Recharging it is easy, just plug it directly with the AC cable or a USB-C port to a power source. Playing on the TV is more complicated, you will need to buy at a third-party accessory like a multiport hub to be able to do it, and if you are already spending money on that, why not buy a replacement dock?
Unfortunately, none of these methods work with a Switch Lite, as it lacks the hardware necessary to connect to a TV or a dock.
If something happened to your original Dock, or you want to browse the hubs that serve as alternatives, we have a more extensive list of the accessories on our page here.