All-optical networking can be the sole approach to provide the huge bandwidth required for future networks. The essential elements in such an optical network are optical switches. A number of options have been proposed in order to implement them efficiently. We focus on thermo-optical switches. First, the physical principles of the thermo-optic effect are briefly introduced. A description of the most common technologies used for the fabrication of thermo-optic switches is provided along with the values of thermo-optic coefficient for a number of materials. The main steps useful in order to design thermo-optical switches are also briefly introduced. Finally, a bird's-eye view of the main and recent proposals of switches based on the thermo-optic effect is reported and their performances compared.