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February 6, 2018

How to transfer data from one Nintendo Switch to another

by John_A

The handheld nature of the Nintendo Switch means that transferring data from one to the other seems like it would be a handy feature. Unfortunately, Nintendo keeps a pretty tight leash on the data in your Switch. There are a few things you can transfer using a MicroSD card, such as sharing screenshots and videos, but you can’t swap game saves, or move over your game library.

It is possible, however, to move your user data and game saves from one Switch to another which may come in handy if you’re swapping consoles. Here is what you need to know about transferring data between two Nintendo Switch consoles.

Transferring user data from one Switch to another

You can make a direct transfer of most of your key Switch data from one console to another without microSD cards or other connections. To do it, you have to have both your original Switch and the Switch receiving the transfer in the same place, and connected to the internet. Unfortunately, that means if your Switch is broken, a transfer probably won’t work.

Set up your Switches

First off, you need both your Switches physically in the same place, connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and must be updated to the firmware version 4.0. You also need to make sure there is space on the “target” console, the one you’re transferring user data to. Specifically, the target console has to have fewer than seven user profiles on it — the maximum you can set up on one Switch — and enough free storage space for the data you will be adding from the “source” console. You might want to have a microSD card handy, just in case.

Sign in as the user you want to transfer on the source console

Using the source console, the one you’re moving the user data from, sign in with the user account you want to transfer. Go into the “Settings” menu (the little icon that looks like a gear on the Switch’s home screen), and navigate down to the “Users” tab. On this menu, scroll down to the option that reads “Transfer Your User and Save Data.”

Sign in on the target console

Now pick up the second, “target” Switch. As in the last step, go to the Switch’s home screen and navigate to the Settings menu. Head down to the Users tab and find “Transfer Your User and Save Data.” Select that option and then select “Target Console” so the Switch knows this is the console receiving the transfer. From here, you have to sign in to your Nintendo account, so have your email and password handy.

Wait for the source console to find the target console

Go back to the source console. It should have detected the target console: If it has, select “Transfer.” A bar will appear showing the status of the transfer. When it’s finished, hit “End” on the source console, and you’re done. The user account and save data will be gone from the source Switch, and will appear on the target Switch.

Transfer screenshots and videos using a microSD card

While you can move save data along with your user profile between Switches, doing so makes the target Switch your “primary” console — which means it’s the only one tied to your Nintendo account, and the only one to which you can download games, for instance. You can also use a given microSD card in one Switch: If you plug your microSD card into another Switch, that Switch will format the microSD card, deleting all the data on it.

The only files you can pass between microSD cards are screenshots and videos. To do that, you need a computer and a microSD card reader to make the transfer.

Plug your microSD card into your Switch

First, you need a microSD card for both the Switches you mean to transfer your images between. You can use a single microSD card to do the transfer, but only if you’re willing to delete all the data on it when you move it from one console to the other. The easier way is to use one microSD card for each console, and move the data between the two, so start by making sure your microSD card is set for each console.

Copy your screenshots and videos to your microSD card

If your card is formatted and ready to go, grab the Nintendo Switch that has the images and videos you want to transfer — the “source” Switch. Head to the “Album” icon on the source Switch’s home screen. You can set where your screenshots and videos are saved in the “Settings” menu, but the default sends your saved images and videos to the Switch’s internal memory. If that is where your images are being saved, you need to copy them to your microSD card so you can take it out of the device.

In the Album, select the image or video you want to transfer and choose the “Copy” option. This will automatically send your selection to the microSD card. You have to do each image and video you want to copy individually, however. Once you have copied everything you want on the card, turn off the Switch and remove it from the device.

Transfer your images and videos to a computer

With the microSD card out of your Switch, plug it into your microSD card reader, and that into your computer. You will now be able to access the files on the microSD card, starting with a folder marked “Nintendo.” Open that folder and look for one called “Album.” Inside are all the images and videos you have transferred to your microSD card, arranged in folders by date.

The easiest thing to do is to select the entire “Album” folder and copy it onto your computer. Pick somewhere convenient to save the file so that it’s easy to locate later. When the files are copied, eject the microSD card reader and take the card out of the reader.

Get your other microSD card

Insert the microSD card from the second Switch, the “target” Switch, into the microSD card reader, and plug that into the computer. You’ll see the same “Nintendo” folder, and inside, the same “Album” folder. Open the “Album” folder, then keep opening the date folders until you have no more folders to open. If you’ve got screenshots or videos saved, you’ll see them in one of these folders.

Find the images you saved on your computer from the source Switch’s microSD card, and copy it into the folder on the target microSD card. Once the copy is complete, eject the microSD card reader and take out the card.

Put the microSD card back in the target Switch

You’re free to put the target microSD card back into the second, “target” Switch. Since the microSD card is formatted to that Switch, it should work immediately. You will now be able to see the screenshots and videos you transferred by navigating to the target Switch’s “Album” icon on the home screen. Your new images and videos will all be there.

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