How to homebrew and play .XCI games on Nintendo Switch 8.1.x?

Nintendo Switch 8.1.0 released, SX OS 2.8 and Atmosphere 0.9.1 can work on it, we can install homebrews and play free Switch games in .XCI format again, today we write you the guide on using SX Pro dongle and R4s Dongle to install SX OS or Atmosphere on Switch V8.1.0 console.

Edit: If you already update Switch to V9.0.0, go to the tutorial here, now only Atmosphere 0.9.4 supports on FW 9.0.

Can your Nintendo Switch 8.1.0 console be hacked?

Not All Nintendo Switch 8.1.0 handhelds are Hackable, some units released after June 2018 are Patched, which means they are Not Hackable for now. The CFW can’t be booted on them, the payload injectors(usb dongle) are useless.

Try to figure out your Switch is patched or not, you can just find guide in this post, or you can use this site, input your Switch serial number there,

Tip: You can find the serial number on the thin bottom of the unit, near the input for the AC Adapter and luckily Nintendo has the opened window on their retail box so you can look up the serial number before purchasing. 

If your console is patched, you can see this:

If your console is hackable, you can see this:

Guide for playing .XCI games and Homebrews on Switch 8.1.0

If you are so luckily to have a non-patched Nintendo Switch, you can finally start to hack it for homebrews and free games. Then you need to buy one of the following, a Xecuter SX Pro with built-in OS code or a R4s Switch Dongle with a RCM Jig. 

SX Pro supports you to boot the best Switch CFW-SX OS on Switch 8.1.0 and the R4s dongle can help you run the free CFW Atmosphere on your console as well, on each CFW, you can get homebrews and .XCI games to run freely.

A. Use Xecuter SX Pro with OS Code

1. Prepare your microSD card

Your micro SD card can be formatted as FAT32 or exFAT, it does not matter. However, exFAT is more convenient because it can be read by both Mac and Windows platforms.

  1. Visit Team Executor’s official website and download the latest version of SX OS 2.8 onto your computer.
  2. Visit the official NX Homebrew Launcher release page and download the latest .zip archive.
  3. Extract the SX OS .zip archive and place the contents of the archive on the root of your microSD card.
  4. Extract the NX Homebrew Launcher .zip archive and place the “hbmenu.nro” file on the root of your microSD card. Make a folder named “switch” on the root of your microSD card. This is where you will place switch homebrew .nro files. Your microSD card should look similar to the screenshot below.
  5. Remove the microSD Card from your computer and insert it into your Nintendo Switch

2. Prepare your Nintendo Switch

Insert the SX Pro dongle and jig tool into your Nintendo Switch. The dongle goes into the USB-C charger port and the jig tool goes into the right joycon rail as seen in the picture below.

3. Boot into RCM mode

To boot into RCM mode, hold the volume-up button as you press the power button. SX OS should start. You can remove the dongle and jig tool once SX OS starts. In a couple of seconds you should see the SX OS logo and the screen below.

Select the “Boot into custom FW” option.

4. Activate your SX OS License to enjoy all features

Before activating SX OS you may see the screen below:

Offline Activation Method

  1. A license-request.dat file will be generated and placed on your microSD Card.
  2. Simply insert your microSD card into your computer and upload your license-request.dat file on the official SX OS activation website .
  3. A license.dat will be generated. Download this file and place it on your microSD card

Online Activation Method

  1. Make sure your Switch is connected to the internet
  2. Enter the “album viewer” from the Nintendo Switch main menu and click on “license”
  3. Your license should activate online and a license.dat file will be placed on the microSD card

5. Enjoy the latest Switch games and Switch homebrew!

Congrats, you can now enjoy Switch homebrew and game backups!

You can leave the Nintendo Switch console in CFW mode to be able to play backups/homebrew. If the console goes into Sleep Mode, SX OS CFW will still work after the console wakes up.

If you turn off or reboot your Switch you will need the SX Pro dongle and jig tool to boot into RCM Mode and start SX OS again. You’ll have to hold the Volume Up and Power button with the jig tool and SX Pro dongle inserted.

B. Use R4s Dongle to boot Atmosphere

Prep Work:

R4S Dongle

R4S Jig

One MicroSD card.


Let’s get started

Ⅰ: Download Software

Atmosphere 0.9.1 Download link:

Ⅱ: Format Micro SD Card

Use the option in the picture shown below:

PS: Switch doesn’t support exFAT by default. Before next step, please put micro SD card inside switch SD card slot. System will prompt to update system patch after power on. You can connect to internet to update exFAT support. Offline update exFAT support is possible, please Google “How to install the exFat Update without updating your Switch”.

Ⅲ: Extract downloaded zip file to root of SD file and put micro SD card into switch SD card slot.

Make sure the contents in the SD card like this:

Ⅳ: Boot customer firmware

1.Turn off your switch console.

Hold power button till the following screen appear, press Power Off.

2.Remove the right Joy confrom the switch console and slide the jig tool all the way down to the end.

3. Insert the R4S dongle into the USB-C port on the bottom of the Switch.

4. Hold the VOL + button and power button to turn on the Switch, the red led on the dongle will be light, and the system should boot into the custom firmware.

Install XCI game

1. Down free DEMO game, US version of ”Shining Resonance Refrain Demo” is recommended.

2. Convert download xci file in PC using one-key-conversion tool.(download link: or


  • One-key-conversion tool doesn’t support non standard characters and space, make sure the xci files and target npdm files and directories don’t have non standard characters and space.
  • When conversion finish,Title id will be shown. If no Title id shown, means either wrong xci file, or the file name or directory name problem as described in note.

3. If there is no error, a new title id directory will be created.

4. Copy newly created title id directoryto the Backups directory of SD.

5. Insert SD card to the console, repeat step IV boot up system.

6. Click Album, then click “mod_Plague”.

7. The following screen will appear.

Press “X” key,then select”Shining Resonance Refrain Demo”.

8. Press “A” key,Select the newly copied title id folder.

9. Press “A”key all the way.

10. When the screen shown below appear, installation is complete

successfully. Congratulations!

Press “HOME”, load new game by select ‘Shining Resonance Refrain Demo’ enjoy!


The usage of SX Pro Dongle with OS Code is much more easy and simple, you can download free Switch .XCI games directly on the console and play, you also can setup Emunand, load games via the HDD, add game Cheats on the SX OS CFW.

However, on the Atmosphere, you should convert .XCI to .NSP roms first, then you can play the free Switch games, it’s a Free Switch CFW, but it’s more complicate to use.

Lastly, both Xecuter SX Pro and R4s Dongle, they are ON Promotion in Besides the cheaper Price, we also support Fast Shipping service, our warehouses are located in USA and France, so choose the Correct Carrier(USPS, LA POSTE), you can receive the Switch flashcard or modchip in One Week.

PS: We even offer Pre-install SD Cards to your Nintendo Switch, it includes what you want mostly, here is the reference link.