How to Reset a Nintendo DS

by Aaron Parson ; Updated September 22, 2017

For restarting your system during day-to-day gaming, all DS systems dating back to the DSi offer a quick alternative to the original DS method of powering the entire system off and on. Resetting the system's memory, on the other hand, wipes out system settings and downloads, and is best reserved for wiping a system prior to resale or for attempting to fix a system that freezes or crashes repeatedly. Newer systems have an option for wiping the memory, but on the classic DS and DS Lite, you'll have to remove the battery.

Restart the System

If a game freezes, turn off and then reboot the system by sliding the power button on a DS or DS Lite, or by pressing holding the power button on any DSi, 3DS or 2DS system. If you just want to reload your game and the system isn't frozen, you don't need to shut the machine off entirely, except on a DS or DS Lite. On either model of DSi, tap the power button to return to the system menu. On the 3DS and 2DS series, press the "Home" button and then "X" to quit the game.

2DS and 3DS Series Factory Reset

To reset your 2DS or 3DS, open the "System Settings" app, choose "Other Settings" and scroll right to pick "Format System Memory." Tap "Format" to erase the system, including everything stored in system memory. Formatting also disables all downloaded games and other data on your SD card, but does not affect photos and videos. Formatting also unlinks your Nintendo Network ID from the system, but won't let you transfer it to another system -- if you need to move the ID, choose "System Transfer" in the settings before formatting the system. Formatting also won't revert the system to an older version of the system menu software.

DSi Series Factory Reset

Like the 3DS, the DSi and DSi XL have the option to erase the system's memory in the settings. Tap the wrench icon to open the settings, scroll over to the right, select "Format System Memory" and confirm by choosing "Format." Unlike the 3DS, the DSi doesn't link to a Nintendo Network ID, so you don't need to worry about transferring your account. Formatting a DSi erases everything saved on the system, including downloaded games and system settings. Even if you copy a downloaded game to an SD card prior to formatting, you won't be able to restore it -- the DSi format provides a completely fresh start.

DS and DS Lite Factory Reset

The original DS series does not include an option to reset the system's memory, but because that memory only stores system settings, you can usually just change the settings yourself. If the system's stuck in another language you can't read or if you want to sell the DS in like-new condition, another option is to remove the battery to forcibly reset the system settings. With the system off and unplugged, unscrew the battery cover with a small (00 size) Phillips-head screwdriver. Pull the battery out from the end with a single tab and wait a few minutes for the system to lose any residual charge. Reinsert the battery, starting with the two-tab side, and close the case.

About the Author

Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.