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How to manage and transfer data on the nintendo switch

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Applies to: Nintendo Switch Family, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, Nintendo Switch – OLED Model

In this article, you’ll learn how to transfer user and save data between Nintendo Switch systems.

Important
  • Both a source system and a target system are required to transfer user information and save data.
  • Both systems must be updated to system menu version 4.0.0 or higher, connected to the Internet, and within proximity of each other for local communication.
  • A Nintendo Account must be linked to the user account you wish to transfer from the source system. That same Nintendo Account cannot be linked to a user account on the target system prior to the transfer.
  • The target system cannot have more than seven users at the time of the migration (there must be room for one more user on the target system).
  • There must be sufficient free space on the target system’s internal memory to receive the data that will be transferred there.
  • Once the process is complete, the user information, the associated save data, and the software purchased with the user account that is transferred will no longer be available on the source system.
  • Save data cannot be merged with other users. It is possible to transfer save data between users that are linked to the same Nintendo Account using the Transfer Your Save Data feature.

Save data that is shared by all users on the system, including Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data, will not be transferred with this process.

  • An additional process is available for the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game to transfer your entire island and game save data to a new Nintendo Switch system or to transfer an individual resident to a different island on a new system.
  • For more information, see How to Transfer Animal Crossing: New Horizons Save Data.

Information

Transferring user information and save data allows you to move your user profile along with all its associated save data and Nintendo eShop purchases from one Nintendo Switch system to another. Data is moved one user at a time.

The following video will give you a helpful overview of the system transfer process:

There are a handful of ways to transfer data on the Switch

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What to Know

  • On the source: Select System Settings >Data Management >Transfer Your Save Data >Send Save Data to Another Console.
  • On the target: Select System Settings >Data Management >Transfer Your Save Data >Receive Save Data.
  • Make sure both consoles are near each other so the transfer can occur.

This article explains how to transfer Nintendo Switch save data and user data from one Switch to another using the Switch’s built-in NFC capabilities, a microSD card, or via the cloud. Instructions cover the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite.

How to Transfer Save Data Between Switch Consoles

To transfer save data between two Nintendo Switch systems, both consoles should be connected to the internet and in close proximity to one another:

Select System Settings on the home screen of the source console.

Select Data Management > Transfer Your Save Data.

Select Send Save Data to Another Console.

Select a user account, then select the save data you wish to transfer.

On the other Nintendo Switch, navigate to System Settings > Data Management > Transfer Your Save Data and select Receive Save Data.

How to Back Up Nintendo Switch Save Data to the Cloud

If you have a Nintendo Switch Online account, you can back up your Switch save data to the cloud. That way, you can download your save data on another console linked to your Nintendo account without going through the process described above.

On the home screen, highlight the game you want to back up and press plus (+) on the Switch controller.

Select Save Data Cloud and choose your user profile to copy the save data to your Nintendo Switch Online account.

On the other system, download your save files by going to System Settings > Data Management > Save Data Cloud.

How to Transfer User Data Between Switch Consoles

To transfer user data between Switch consoles without an SD card:

Select System Settings from the home screen of the console containing your user data.

Select Users > Transfer Your User Data.

Select Next.

Select Next again.

Select Source Console.

Select Continue.

Repeat steps 1-4 on the other Switch system, then select Target Console.

After the source console detects the target console, select Transfer on the source console.

How to Transfer Nintendo Switch Data to an SD Card

You can transfer games and other software you’ve purchased through the Nintendo eShop to a microSD card for use on another Switch console:

With your Nintendo Switch turned off, insert the microSD card into the back of the system.

Power on your Switch and select System Settings on the home screen.

Scroll down and select Data Management > Manage Software.

Select the games you wish to transfer.

Select Archive Software.

Select Archive.

Select OK, then press the Home button on your Switch controller to return to the home screen.

Select the game from the home screen, then select Download to save the game data to the SD card.

When a microSD card is inserted in the Nintendo Switch, it becomes the default destination for downloaded software.

You can now insert the SD card into a non-primary console to play the game without an internet connection.

While you can play games off the microSD card, save data will always be stored to the Switch’s internal memory. It is not possible to transfer save data via SD card.

Can You Transfer Nintendo Switch Save Data Between Users?

While it’s possible to transfer user and save data between Switch consoles, you cannot share save data between different user profiles. In other words, if you’re playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on one user profile, you can’t copy your save file to another player’s profile. You can, however, access your games and save data via your user profile across multiple consoles, so long as they’re linked to your Nintendo account. Each Switch can have up to eight Nintendo accounts and user profiles associated with it.

While your Nintendo account can be linked to multiple Switch consoles, only one can be your primary system. When playing on a non-primary system, you must be connected to the internet to play titles you’ve downloaded unless you have the game data saved to an SD card.

Since the Switch Lite is meant to be played on-the-go, consider making it your primary device so you don’t have to worry about finding a Wi-Fi connection. Log in to your Nintendo account via a web browser to change your primary console.

Whether you got a Nintendo Switch, the new OLED or a Lite, here’s the easiest method to move into that new system.

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If you received a new Nintendo Switch this holiday season, you’ll want to transfer all your old data to that new Switch. Even though the basic hardware platform has remained unchanged since 2017, there are now several versions of the hybrid handheld consoles. You may have upgraded from a standard Switch to the new OLED version — or maybe you got the Switch Lite.

The first time we really had to deal with moving an account from one Switch to another was when the V2 version of the original hardware was released in 2019. That model was differentiated from the original with tweaks to the processor for better battery life .

Unfortunately, the way Nintendo handles your account, game permissions and saved-game data is, in typical Nintendo fashion, restrictive and complicated. That said, it’s also better than it used to be, which almost always meant transferred data was deleted from your old Switch, even if you were keeping it.

Today, it’s much easier, thanks to software updates. First make sure both the old and new Switches are updated to the latest version of the Switch system software. Do that by going to System settings > System > System update.

If you’re unboxing a new Switch to transfer your data onto, you’ll need to do the basic setup to get it on your Wi-Fi network first. We’ve got a full guide to setting up your new Switch that covers this initial setup. Account and data transfer is also covered there, along with other setup issues. But if you’re just looking for the quickest way to transfer data, read on below.

More from 12 Days of Tech Tips

  • Got a new Nintendo Switch OLED? Redownload your games in 5 steps
  • Nintendo Switch OLED setup: Do this right after unboxing
  • PS5 games take up a ton of space. Here’s how to boost your PlayStation storage

This is easier if you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, which allows for online play and cloud backups.

Log into your Nintendo account on the new Switch ( instructions here, if needed ).

Go to Settings > Data Management > Save Data Cloud

Make sure both Automatic Save-Data Backup and Automatic Save-Data Download are on.

Go to the Nintendo eShop and tap on your icon in the upper-right corner.

On the subsequent account page, tap Redownload to see a list of games you can download to the new Switch.

If your cloud-saved data doesn’t appear right away, put the new Switch to sleep. The cloud backup should sync shortly.

How to redownload games on your new Switch.

If you don’t subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, it’s a little more complex. Both consoles should be plugged in and on the same Wi-Fi network. My Switch wouldn’t let me initiate the transfer unless the system was plugged in even though its battery was at 95%.

Go to System Settings > Users.

Scroll down and select Transfer Your User and Save Data. Important note: You don’t select which user you’re transferring yet. The Transfer button is below all user account icons on this screen.

Select whether this is the Source or Target of your data transfer. In this case, it’s the source.

Then choose which account to transfer.

On the Target Switch, repeat the process, but choose Target instead of Source.

The OTA (over-the-air) transfer between two consoles is actually pretty quick and painless. But there’s a catch: If you’re not a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber and make use of the cloud save feature, your saved-game data will be deleted from the original Switch.

It’s also worth noting that this is a one-user-at-a-time process, so you’ll have to repeat it for each user account on your Switch and each user account will need an actual Nintendo account login (no, they’re not the same, yes it’s confusing).

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Applies to: Nintendo Switch Family, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, Nintendo Switch – OLED Model

In this article, you’ll learn how to transfer your save data for a specific game from one Nintendo Switch system to another.

Important
  • This does not create a copy of your save data. Once the transfer is complete, the save data file on the source system is deleted.
  • Both systems must have system menu version 8.0.0 or higher, be connected to the Internet, and near each other.
  • Save data can only be transferred between users that are linked to the same Nintendo Account.
  • This feature allows you to move a save data file per game, per account from one Nintendo Switch system to another that is nearby.
  • A Nintendo Switch Online membership is not required to use this feature.

Complete these steps

On the Source System
  1. From the HOME Menu, select System Settings, then Data Management, and then Transfer Your Save Data.
  2. Select Send Save Data to Another Console, then select the user whose save data file you wish to transfer.

Important: Once sent, the save data file will be deleted from the source system.

You can move (transfer) your user information and save data from an old console to a new one.

There are two types of transfer: Transferring a user and associated save data, and transferring only save data.

* You must update to the latest system version before carrying out a transfer.

* With Nintendo Switch Family, you can transfer between each console types.

  • Transferring your user
  • Transferring your save data

Transferring your user

If you have a new console that you intend to use instead of your old console, you can simultaneously transfer (move) your user and save data to the new console.

* With Nintendo Switch Family, you can transfer between each console types.

Transferable and non-transferable data

*1 Linked child account users can be transferred.

*2 Your user page is shown when you select your user icon at the top-left of the HOME Menu.

*3 Some save data isn’t saved on a per-user basis, but is shared with all users instead. (For example, 1-2-Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, etc.)

*4 Screenshots and videos can be transferred in the following way. After transferring a user, copy the data on the microSD card to a PC or other device. Then copy it from there onto the microSD card to be used with the new console. (Screenshots and videos are stored in a folder named “/Nintendo/Album”. You should place the files in the same folder on the new console’s microSD card.)

Caution: Checks before transferring

  • Game update data will not be transferred. Please download updates newly on the destination console.

How to carry out the user transfer

The way you complete a user transfer depends on whether first-time setup has been completed on the destination console or not. Choose the transfer method that applies to you.

Transferring your save data

Following this section, only your save data will be transferred (moved) to another console.
If you have multiple consoles, you can transfer your latest save data from one console to another so you can keep playing from where you left off.

* Some save data cannot be transferred.

* The save data for some titles, such as 1-2-Switch and Animal Crossing: New Horizons is not saved on a per-user basis. It’s shared with all users, and therefore cannot be transferred.

* Caution. Your save data will be deleted on the source console.

* Save data is stored on the console you’re currently using. In order to play games with your latest save data on multiple systems, you’ll need to transfer the save data each time you use a different console.

* With Nintendo Switch Family, you can transfer between each console types.

Preparing to transfer data

  • You should have both the source and destination consoles to hand.
  • Ensure that both the source and destination consoles meet the following requirements.

– The user of the save data you want to transfer is linked to the same Nintendo Account on both consoles.

– The latest system version has been downloaded and installed.

– There is a working Internet connection.

How to carry out the save data transfer

On the HOME Menu of each console, select “System Settings” в†’ “Data Management” в†’ “Transfer Your Save Data” and follow the on-screen instructions.

* You can only make a single selection. (Save data is transferred one item at a time.)

* This page pictures a Nintendo Switch console [HAC-001] and a Joy-Con (L)/(R) as an example.

Asalels

New Member
  • Jun 12, 2019
  • #1
  • Hello new here. I’ve read a lot of threats here but i am kinda noob and i have to ask for your help. Currently i have a clean ipatched Switch. All i want to do is edit my Pokemon Let’s Go save data. So is there a way of doing it and not get banned? The ideas i have was:

    1) Get another not patched switch, hack it with SXos, transfer save data, edit save data, transfer them back. (SXos i think they have a tool to use it and you can use both OFW and homebrew on your switch)
    2)Use the NAND backup (i have no idea how to do it i just saw it in a threat and i think if that is the way i will read threw it and manage to do it) (also i think i will have to buy a not patched Switch)

    Thank you for your help in advance.

    kimbra

    Well-Known Member
    • Jun 15, 2019
  • #2
  • Hello new here. I’ve read a lot of threats here but i am kinda noob and i have to ask for your help. Currently i have a clean ipatched Switch. All i want to do is edit my Pokemon Let’s Go save data. So is there a way of doing it and not get banned? The ideas i have was:

    1) Get another not patched switch, hack it with SXos, transfer save data, edit save data, transfer them back. (SXos i think they have a tool to use it and you can use both OFW and homebrew on your switch)
    2)Use the NAND backup (i have no idea how to do it i just saw it in a threat and i think if that is the way i will read threw it and manage to do it) (also i think i will have to buy a not patched Switch)

    Nintendo Switch players can transfer data between internal storage and microSD card easily. This update arrived in 2020 and is such a big deal because if players wanted to do this before, they had to redownload the data onto their gaming systems. Whether you’re using the Switch or the Switch Lite, here’s how to transfer game data between microSD cards and the Nintendo Switch’s internal storage.

    Note: Some Nintendo Switch game data isn’t capable of moving between internal storage and the microSD card. So while this update will work for the majority of data on the Switch, it won’t work for all of it. If you want to see all details, click here.

    How to transfer game data between microSD card and internal storage

      Select System Settings from the main Switch menu.

    Scroll down to Data Management.

    You now have two options. To move game data to the microSD card, select Move to microSD Card. If you want to move game data from the micro SD card to internal memory, select Move to System Memory.

    Now select Move Data.

    Select Move.

    That’s all there is to it. Now you can transfer the game data between your microSD card and your internal storage. This is a beneficial thing to do if you run out of space on the Switch console’s internal storage or if you want to use a new micro SD card.

    Just keep in mind that certain games’ data cannot be transferred, so this won’t work for every game you have, but it will work for most of them.

    Additional Equipment

    Whether you own the Nintendo Switch or the Switch Lite, here are some of the best accessories for both systems.

    Pro Controller ($70 at Best Buy)

    This controller feels great in your hands and is much larger than the Joy-Cons. It also supports amiibo scanning, motion controls, and rumble.

    Hori Compact Playstand ($21 at Amazon)

    This is the perfect stand for when you want to play in tabletop mode. It raises the screen a few inches and offers three different viewing angles.

    128GB micoSD Card ($30 at Best Buy)

    If you’ve played or plan on playing several different Switch games, you’re going to want to invest in this microSD card. It gives you 128GB, which is plenty of room for save data, screenshots, and downloads.

    We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

    Looking for a new controller for your Switch? Look no further!

    If you want a more conventional gaming controller for your Switch and don’t want to spend more on the Pro Controller, you do have other options. Here are my favorite third-party controllers for Nintendo Switch.

    Keep playing your Nintendo Switch Lite with these battery backups

    Want to ensure that you never run out of battery power for your Switch Lite? Get geared up and this will never happen again!

    These grips give you a better handle on your Switch Lite

    The perfect console for an affordable and on-the-go option is the Nintendo Switch Lite. While it’s easily portable it isn’t necessarily comfortable to hold, but a good grip will fix that!

    Rebecca Spear

    Rebecca Spear is the Games Editor for iMore. She loves playing Nintendo Switch games and is a Zelda nut through and through. On any given day you’ll find her drawing, playing video games, or reading a good book. Follow her on Twitter @rrspear.

    Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium’s OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker. Read more.

    The Nintendo Switch comes with a meager 32GB of storage. You can expand your storage with an SD card, but that’s still a pretty small amount of space on your console. Here are several ways you can clear up internal storage space, or at least offload some of that data to an SD card.

    By default, if you have an SD card installed in your Switch, the console will automatically store downloaded games and screenshots to it until it’s full. If you started using your console without an SD card, or if you don’t have one, you might need to clean house once in a while.

    There are two ways to delete games on the Switch. You can either delete them, which will take all your game save data with it, or you can “archive” them. Archiving a game will delete all of the game data (which takes up the bulk of the space on your console) but leave your game saves where they are. That way, if you download the game again in the future, you don’t have to start over.

    This is important because your game saves are only stored on your console. Nintendo doesn’t sync your game saves, let you back them up, or even copy them to your SD card. If you delete a game from your console, your game save is gone forever. So if you haven’t played Breath of the Wild for a bit and want to delete it to make room for something else, archive it instead. For that reason we almost always recommend archiving instead of deleting games if you ever want to come back to them.

    If a game is installed on your Switch’s internal storage, you’ll also need to archive it in order to move it over to your SD card. Start by inserting your SD card, then archive the game you want to move. Once it’s gone, re-download the game from the eStore and it will be installed on the SD card by default.

    To archive a game, select it on your home screen and press either the + or – buttons on your controller.

    This will open up an Options menu. Scroll down to Manage Software and select Archive Software. If you are 100% certain that you never want to play a game again and want to free up a little more space, choose Delete Software. Again, though, there is no way to recover your game saves if you delete the game from your console.

    You can also see which games are taking up the most space and uninstall those—as well as manage other data hogs like screenshots—from the Settings menu. First, select Settings from the home screen.

    Scroll down to Data Management. Here, choose Manage Software.

    On this screen, you’ll see a list of your games, sorted by how much space they take up on your console. Select one of the games and you can either archive or delete it.

    Back on the Data Management screen, you also have one other option labeled Manage Save Data/Screenshots.

    Under this menu, you can either choose Delete Save Data or Manage Screenshots. We’ll start with Delete Save Data.

    This screen will list all the games that you have save data for, as well as how much space those game saves are taking up. Select a game to delete some saves.

    If you have saves from multiple player profiles, you can delete them each individually on this screen. This is particularly handy if you’ve let someone else use your console, but they won’t be playing again. Remember, if you delete game save data from here, it can never be restored.

    Under the Manage Screenshots menu, you’ll find a few different options. You can change the default save location for your screenshots (when you insert an SD card it should become the default, but you can change this if you’d rather save screenshots to your internal storage), copy your screenshots from one storage to another, or delete all of your screenshots at once. If you choose Manage Individual Images, you’ll be taken to the Album app where you can browse screenshots, delete just certain photos, or even share them to Facebook and Twitter.

    For the most part, game downloads will take up the bulk of the space on your console, but you can archive the games without losing your save data. If you’re done playing with a game for a while, just archive it and keep your saves. Between that and easing up on the screenshot button a bit, you can manage with that 32GB of internal storage just fine.

    Bring all your games with you when you move into that shiny new Switch OLED.

    Once you’re signed in on the target console, click Continue on the source console. The process will take a few minutes to copy data from one device to another, depending on how much data you have to transfer.

    Unfortunately, after this point, your data won’t be available on the source console anymore. You can’t have data on both consoles at the same time—unless you pay for Nintendo Switch Online—so make sure you’re ready to move before you commit.

    You can have multiple profiles on a single Switch, and not every profile has to be associated with a Nintendo account. However, if you do have multiple Nintendo accounts on a single Switch, you’ll need to repeat this process for each of them if you want to move them over to a new console.

    And just like before, this process doesn’t actually transfer your games. You’ll still need to go to the eShop and manually redownload each title by clicking on your profile and heading to the Redownload tab.

    Set your new Switch as the primary console

    Once you’ve transferred your games and save data over, you might want to deregister your original Switch as the primary console for your account. Each account can only have one primary console, which gets special privileges that other consoles on your account don’t. The primary console can play the games you’ve purchased while offline, and other people’s profiles on that Switch can play the games you’ve bought. A single Switch can be the primary console for as many accounts as you want, but each account can only set one Switch as its primary.

    On a Switch that isn’t the primary console for an account, you can log into your account on one profile and still play games you’ve purchased, but only if you maintain a connection to the Internet. Other profiles on that Switch can’t play those games unless the owner has purchased it themselves.

    If you need to change which Switch is your primary console, follow these steps:

    1. On the Switch you plan to deregister, launch the eShop from the home screen.
    2. Select your profile icon in the top-right corner of the screen.
    3. On the right side of the screen, scroll down to the Primary Console section.
    4. Select Deregister.

    After you do this, the next Switch you open the eShop on will become your new primary console. You can change this as often as you need to, but only one console can be the primary at a time.

    How to transfer your screenshots and recordings

    The above processes transfer your data, but they leave all your screenshots and recordings behind. These aren’t quite as critical, and you can leave them where they are, but if you want to bring them over to your new Switch, you’ll need a MicroSD card. You might already have one in your Switch, since the original console only had a meager 32GB of storage space.

    Once you have a MicroSD card in your console, follow these steps:

    1. Go to System Settings from the home screen.
    2. Select Data Management.
    3. Select Manage Save Data/Screenshots and Videos.
    4. Select Manage Screenshots and Videos.

    From this screen, you can choose to transfer all of your screenshots and videos to your MicroSD card. Once they’re copied over, you can remove the SD card from your old Switch and insert it into the new one. However, you might want to take the opportunity to plug the card into a computer and backup or transfer the files somewhere you can store them safely over the long term.

    All your important data should now be transferred from your old console. If you’re planning to give away or sell your old Switch, you might want to reformat the consoleto delete all data and settings from it first.

    Description:

    Instructions on how to transfer your save data for a specific game from one console in the Nintendo Switch family to another.

    Important:

    • This feature allows you to move one save data file per game, per user, from one Nintendo Switch family console to another console that is nearby.
    • It does not create a copy of your save data. Once the transfer is complete, the save data file on the source console is deleted.
    • A Nintendo Switch Online membership is not required to use this feature.

    Additional Information:

    • Save data can only be transferred between users that are linked to the same Nintendo Account.
    • Both consoles must have system version 8.0.0 or higher, must be connected to the internet and must be near each other.

    Complete These Steps:

    On the Source Console

    1. From the HOME Menu, select “System Settings” > “Data Management” > “Transfer Your Save Data”.
    2. Select “Send Save Data to Another Console”, then select the user whose save data file you wish to transfer.
    3. Select the save data file for the software title you want to send to another console.
    4. Select “Send Save Data”.

    Important:

    Once sent, the save data file will be deleted from the source console.

    On the Target Console

    1. From the HOME Menu, select “System Settings” > “Data Management” > “Transfer Your Save Data”.
    2. Select “Receive Save Data” and place both consoles near each other.

    Now that it has been a few years since the Nintendo Switch first released, there are some options on which system you may have. In addition to the main Switch console having come out in limited edition designs, players could also have the Nintendo Switch Lite or the Nintendo Switch OLED. With these newer systems available, players may have additional or upgraded systems. The most important thing to note about having multiple consoles is that only one of them can be your primary console. The primary console can play Nintendo Switch games anywhere, anytime. Your other Switch systems will require an internet connection to play. We will walk you through how to make your device of choice your primary and move your old saves to your new console.

    Things you need to know first:

    • You’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online account if you don’t already have one. It’s the easiest way to have your saves sync across multiple Switch devices.
    • The save data must be backed up to the cloud. Otherwise, you’ll have issues transferring the data.
    • Both digital and physical games use cloud saves. Save data exists on the console and not on the cartridge.
    • You’ll need to deactivate or deregister the original Switch as being the primary console for your Nintendo account.
    • Some games don’t support cloud saves and will require a manual transfer, which we also cover in this article.

    How to get a Nintendo Switch Online subscription

    Follow the steps found in this guide.

    How to make sure your save data is backed up

      From the Home Menu scroll over a game.

    Press the + button.

    If the data is backed up, you’ll see a check box next to the words “Backed up.” If it doesn’t say that, click on your account.

  • Click Back Up Save Data.
  • If your game does not support cloud saving, you’ll need to transfer the data manually. Continue to the next section to see how to transfer data from one Switch device to another manually. If you don’t need to manually transfer any data, continue to the next step, here.

    How to manually transfer game saves:

    Start on the old Switch

      From the old Switch’s Home Menu, select System Settings.

    Scroll down to Data Management.

    Click Send Save Data to Another Console.

    Select the save data you want to send to a new console.

    Click Send Save Data.

    Go to the new console

      From the Home Menu, go to System Settings.

    Scroll down to Data Management.

    Click Receive Save Data.

    Click OK on both consoles.

    How to deregister your original Switch as the primary console.

    If you don’t have the old console: If you do have the old console: continue here:

      Go to accounts.nintendo.com. If you aren’t signed in, this page will pop up.

    Sign in to the Nintendo Account you want to deactivate.

    Click on Deregister Primary Console.

    Click Ok.

    Click Deregister again.

    You’ve deregistered this device. The next time you connect to the Nintendo eShop from a Nintendo Switch console, the console you use to connect will automatically be set as your primary console. When you start the Nintendo Switch for the first time, it will walk you through the steps of setting up an account. If you’ve already put an account on your new Switch and need to change it to the primary console continue here.

    If you do have the old console

      On the old device, select Nintendo eShop from the HOME Menu.

    Select the Nintendo Account you want to deactivate on the console.

    Scroll down to where it says Primary Console and click Deregister.

    You might be asked to sign in to complete the process. If so fill in your account information.

    Click OK.

    The next time you connect to the Nintendo Switch eShop, the console you use to connect will automatically be set as your primary console. If you open a brand new Switch from the package, it will walk you through the steps of adding your account. If the console you want to make your primary console already has accounts on it, continue to the next steps.

    How to register a new Switch as the primary console

      From the Home Menu, go to System Settings.

    Scroll down to Users.

    Click Create New User.

    Select OK.

    Click the A button.

    Click Link a Nintendo Account.

  • Select the sign in method you’d prefer to use.
  • Enter your information.
  • Click Sign In.

    You’ve now successfully added your account to your new Switch device.

    Switch it over!

    Congratulations, you’ve transferred your save data from your old Switch to your new one. Now you’ll be able to continue playing from your current game saves on your new Switch device. Just remember that any device that isn’t the primary console cannot access downloaded games unless you have an internet connection.

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    An explainer for all the hoops multi-Switch households have to jump through.

    Kyle Orland – Sep 20, 2019 4:25 pm UTC

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    Further Reading

    To help clarify the whole process, here’s a quick run-down of how juggling software and accounts between multiple Switch units works in practice.

    Setup and save data transfer

    When you first turn on your second Switch, you’re offered the opportunity to import your account and user data created on another Switch. The system will ask if you currently have the Switch from which you want to import data and if you’ll be keeping that original system going forward.

    Presuming the answer to both questions is yes, the system will ask you to link the new system to your existing Nintendo account. If that account isn’t linked on the original system, you’ll have the opportunity to do so before continuing. You can also create a new user on the system and link it to a Nintendo Account later.

    At this point, Nintendo offers the ability to wirelessly transfer user information and save data from the original Switch to the new system. This seems pretty handy until you discover that “the transferred user and save data will be deleted from the source console.” That’s not ideal unless you plan on getting rid of the original console.

    To copy your save data over while keeping it intact on the source console, you can’t just pop out the SD card and copy the files over (that will just earn you a warning saying the SD card is tied to another console and that it will need to be formatted to work on a new one). Instead, you’ll need to sign up for the Nintendo Switch Online service, which includes the ability to transfer cloud saves.

    If you only want to perform this transfer once, you can just buy a one-month, $4 subscription and cancel it after you’re done. If you want to juggle save data between the systems in perpetuity, though, you’re better off with the $20 annual subscription (or a $35 family membership if you’re sharing with people using different Nintendo Accounts). That system is pretty seamless—I was able to start a game of Into the Breach on one Switch and start it at the same point on another Switch minutes later without any manual work.

    It’s pretty frustrating to have to pay Nintendo and use its server resources for the privilege of simply transferring save data between two Switch consoles. That said, the Nintendo Switch Online service isn’t too cost-prohibitive, and it comes with access to online gameplay and a growing selection of classic NES and SNES titles for download.

    Share and share alike

    If you enjoy your Switch games on physical cards, sharing them between systems is pretty straightforward. Just pop the card out of one system and pop it in to the other.

    If you download your Switch games from the eShop, things are a bit trickier. The good news is that those games are tied to your Nintendo Account, and you’ll be able to redownload them on the new system as long as it’s linked to the same account. The bad news is you have to perform this process manually, starting each download individually from a list on your Account Information page on the eShop. We hope you have a lot of time and/or bandwidth to spare for this cumbersome process.

    By default, your new Switch will be designated as a “secondary” console on your Nintendo account, which imposes some important restrictions on how it can access your downloaded game library. For one, every time a secondary console starts a new game, it needs to connect to Nintendo’s servers to “[check] if the software can be played.” If you don’t have an active Internet connection handy at any moment, those digital games are functionally useless on the secondary system.

    There is one small workaround to this issue. If you start a game on a secondary console when there’s Wi-Fi available, you can continue playing it even if you go somewhere without an Internet connection. This wrinkle seems to work even if you put the system into “Airplane mode” or if you turn off the screen for “Sleep mode” and resume play later in a different, Internet-free location. Be warned, though: If you close the game and try to start another, you’ll be required to perform the Internet check-in again (and if you turn the Switch off completely or drain the battery, you’re out of luck).

    This online check-in is not required on the “primary” console for a Nintendo account. Any user on that system will be able to play games downloaded to that console without a server check-in. So if you have one “on the go” Switch that’s going to be played away from Wi-Fi and another that is usually staying at home, you’ll probably want to make your portable system the “primary” one on your Nintendo account. To do that, you have to deregister the primary system via the eShop or the Nintendo Account website, then register the other system as “primary” through the eShop.

    Nintendo also imposes limits on how many systems can access a single downloaded library from a single Nintendo account at the same time. So if I’m playing a downloaded copy of Super Mario Odyssey on a secondary console and someone else starts a downloaded copy of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the primary console using the same Nintendo Account, an error message will appear on the secondary console: “Play is being suspended. Downloaded software or downloadable content may be being played on another console using the same Nintendo Account.”

    There is a way around this in some cases. If you put the primary console into “Airplane mode” before starting a game, it won’t be able to check in with Nintendo’s servers to put a “lock” on your library (but you will still be able to play the game without an online check-in). This method only works for offline single-player games, though; if you want to use any online features on the primary console, you can’t use this trick.

    This method also works in reverse. You can start a game on the secondary console, turn on Airplane mode, then start a different downloaded game on the primary console without causing issues. If you try to change games on the secondary console, though, it will require another online check-in that could screw things up.

    So if you want to play an online game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate across both of your Switch consoles, your options are pretty limited. You can start a new Nintendo account for one of the consoles, but you’ll have to repurchase any games you want separately for that account. You can also buy physical game card copies of specific games that you don’t want to trigger the online check.

    We’ve tried to make this whole confusing mess as clear as possible here, but we’re sure there will still be questions and edge cases we haven’t addressed. Feel free to leave them in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

    Promoted Comments

    Just a heads up.

    Amazon prime subscribers can get twitch prime for free, which gives them free goodies, one of which is a nintendo online subscription for 1 year.

    *edit*
    Just looked it up, the last day you can claim this is September 24th.

    This article was written by Darlene Antonelli, MA. Darlene Antonelli is a Technology Writer and Editor for wikiHow. Darlene has experience teaching college courses, writing technology-related articles, and working hands-on in the technology field. She earned an MA in Writing from Rowan University in 2012 and wrote her thesis on online communities and the personalities curated in such communities.

    This article has been viewed 11,169 times.

    Want to learn how to transfer games from one Nintendo Switch to another? Whether you bought a new Switch or just want to have your game data and digital games on a different Switch, sharing data between Switches just takes a few minutes. We’ll show two easy ways to move your games and account to a different Nintendo Switch.

    I edited this screenshot of an Android icon.\n

    The latest update for Nintendo Switch allows users to finally transfer save data and eShop purchases to a new console. Here’s how it works.

    Transferring Save Files / eShop Purchases is a feature users have been begging for, and Nintendo finally obliged with the latest 8.0.0 update. Now you can move save files (and even eShop purchases) from one console to another — just be aware that the files will be deleted from the source console once they’re moved. You can move over individual user data, so there’s no risk of losing the wrong files.

    Before you can start transferring files, you’ll need to do a little bit of setup. Both consoles must be updated to the latest Home Screen version, and one console needs to be linked to your Nintendo ID. You can link individual Profiles to your Nintendo ID from the ‘User’ Profile settings menu. You’ll link user profiles in the instructions below.

    Once both consoles / user profiles are properly linked, you’ll be able to freely transfer save data between consoles. Learn the rest of the steps in the quick guide below.

    More Nintendo Switch guides on Gameranx:

    How To Transfer Save Files & eShop Purchases To Another Switch Console

    To transfer save data / eShop purchases, you must have access to both consoles. Files can be transferred wirelessly, so there’s no need to hook anything up. Connect to the internet with both consoles, and you can begin the steps to transfer data.

    NOTE: Consoles can’t have more than seven users. To successfully transfer, the ‘target’ console must have enough internal memory to download the save data.

    Step #1: Transfer From The Source Console

    The source console is the console with the data on it. This is the console you want to take the data from and move it onto a new console.

    On the HOME menu, go to System Settings -> Users -> Select ‘Transfer Your User Data

    Accept ‘Next’, then accept ‘Next’ again. Then select ‘Source Console’ to confirm that you want to transfer data from this console onto another. Select ‘Continue’ and move to the target console.

    Step #2: Link User Profile On Target Console

    The target console is the console without the user data you want on it. This is the console you want to move user data to from the source console.

    On the HOME menu, go to System Settings -> Users -> Select ‘ Transfer Your User Data

    Accept ‘Next’, then accept ‘Next’ again. Then select ‘Target Console’ to confirm that you want to transfer data to this console from the source console.

    You’ll be prompted to sign-in to your Nintendo ID. Sign-in using your Nintendo Account e-mail or Nintendo ID. Enter the Nintendo Account e-mail / Nintendo ID and password to sign-in. Press ‘Next’ and move back to your source console.

    Step #3: Accept The Data Transfer

    Return to the source console and select ‘Transfer’ — the transfer will begin. It shouldn’t take too much time. When the transfer is complete, select ‘End’ to complete the transfer, and you’ll now be able to access User Data on your alternate console.

    And yes, you can move all User Data back and forth between consoles.

    Bring all your games with you when you move into that shiny new Switch OLED.

    Once you’re signed in on the target console, click Continue on the source console. The process will take a few minutes to copy data from one device to another, depending on how much data you have to transfer.

    Unfortunately, after this point, your data won’t be available on the source console anymore. You can’t have data on both consoles at the same time—unless you pay for Nintendo Switch Online—so make sure you’re ready to move before you commit.

    You can have multiple profiles on a single Switch, and not every profile has to be associated with a Nintendo account. However, if you do have multiple Nintendo accounts on a single Switch, you’ll need to repeat this process for each of them if you want to move them over to a new console.

    And just like before, this process doesn’t actually transfer your games. You’ll still need to go to the eShop and manually redownload each title by clicking on your profile and heading to the Redownload tab.

    Set your new Switch as the primary console

    Once you’ve transferred your games and save data over, you might want to deregister your original Switch as the primary console for your account. Each account can only have one primary console, which gets special privileges that other consoles on your account don’t. The primary console can play the games you’ve purchased while offline, and other people’s profiles on that Switch can play the games you’ve bought. A single Switch can be the primary console for as many accounts as you want, but each account can only set one Switch as its primary.

    On a Switch that isn’t the primary console for an account, you can log into your account on one profile and still play games you’ve purchased, but only if you maintain a connection to the Internet. Other profiles on that Switch can’t play those games unless the owner has purchased it themselves.

    If you need to change which Switch is your primary console, follow these steps:

    1. On the Switch you plan to deregister, launch the eShop from the home screen.
    2. Select your profile icon in the top-right corner of the screen.
    3. On the right side of the screen, scroll down to the Primary Console section.
    4. Select Deregister.

    After you do this, the next Switch you open the eShop on will become your new primary console. You can change this as often as you need to, but only one console can be the primary at a time.

    How to transfer your screenshots and recordings

    The above processes transfer your data, but they leave all your screenshots and recordings behind. These aren’t quite as critical, and you can leave them where they are, but if you want to bring them over to your new Switch, you’ll need a MicroSD card. You might already have one in your Switch, since the original console only had a meager 32GB of storage space.

    Once you have a MicroSD card in your console, follow these steps:

    1. Go to System Settings from the home screen.
    2. Select Data Management.
    3. Select Manage Save Data/Screenshots and Videos.
    4. Select Manage Screenshots and Videos.

    From this screen, you can choose to transfer all of your screenshots and videos to your MicroSD card. Once they’re copied over, you can remove the SD card from your old Switch and insert it into the new one. However, you might want to take the opportunity to plug the card into a computer and backup or transfer the files somewhere you can store them safely over the long term.

    All your important data should now be transferred from your old console. If you’re planning to give away or sell your old Switch, you might want to reformat the consoleto delete all data and settings from it first.