System transfers have been a thing for a goodly amount of time now for Nintendo consoles. Gone are the days when all your lovely gubbins was held on a game cartridge or (gasp) memory card. Now when you get a new version of a console, be it for new features, a different form factor, or just some charming Pikachu and Eevee designs on the back, you've got to ferry all that data over from your old system to your new one. As luck would have it, it's right chuffing easy on Switch, and to prove that fact we're going to tell you how in the article you lucky, lucky beggars.

Getting Started

The first thing you'll want to do is make sure both your new and old console are fully set up. You can perform a system transfer when setting up a new console, but it's a bit more straightforward to do it after you've put in your WiFi information and all that good stuff. As long as you can see the Home Screen and you've got an active internet connection, you're ready to get things raring.

Unlike the 3DS the Switch does not require any tools to complete the transfer, it's all handled in software and is a much more straightforward process, so let's dive right into things.

The Actual System Transfer Bit

  • Connect an official Nintendo Switch AC Adapter into each of the two systems.
  • Select System Settings from the Home Menu on both consoles, indicated by a gear on the lower row of circular icons.
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  • Scroll down on both consoles and select User from the menu on the left hand side of the screen.
  • Select Transfer Your User and Save Data on both consoles from the right hand side of the screen.
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  • Read the information on screen and select Next on both systems.
  • Once again, read the information on this screen as well and select Next on both systems.
  • If you have Parental Controls activated on either system, enter the PIN required. If you do not know the PIN, consult the individual who set up Parental Controls.
  • If you are prompted to insert a power supply into one or both of your consoles, ensure the AC adapters are properly plugged in.
  • You will now see a screen asking you to select which unit will be the Source Console and which will be the Target Console.
  • On your old system with the User Profile(s) you wish to transfer, select Source Console.
  • On your new system, select Target Console.
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  • Your old system will ask you which User Profile you wish to transfer. Select the icon of the User Profile you wish to send to your new system.
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  • Your new system will ask you to sign into the Nintendo Account that is associated with the User Profile you wish to transfer. Select Sign In and then choose the method you used to initially create your account, which is usually Sign in using an email address or Sign-In ID. enter the email address and password that you chose when you set up the User Profile you selected on your old console, then select Sign In.
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  • Provided you signed in successfully, you will now see the icon of the User Profile you wish to transfer on both consoles, along with some text that will differentiations between them.
  • Select Continue on your old console.
  • Select Next on your new console.
  • Both consoles will now attempt to discover one another, which shouldn't take longer than 10 seconds. Make sure the consoles are close together to ensure a rapid discovery.
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  • Once both systems have discovered each other, select Transfer on your old console.
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  • The systems will now begin exchanging data, which may take up to or over 30 minutes depending on the amount of save data you have. Make sure both consoles are plugged into an official power supply for the duration of this transfer.
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  • Once the transfer is complete, your old system will tell you that your User Profile has been successfully transferred. Your new system may take a few moments longer to also declare that the process is complete
  • Once both systems have finished the transfer and display a blue tick icon, select End on both consoles.
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The system transfer is complete. Your profile, all your save data, and eShop purchases have been transferred to your new console. Woohoo!

Where Are All My Games?

Whilst your save data has been sent over, your games haven't, because Switch games are mighty massive and if you've ever done a system transfer for the 3DS or Wii U you can understand why Nintendo thought "nuts to that" with the Switch. Instead you're going to have to re-download them from the eShop, but thankfully it's not as painful a process as you might think.

Getting Those Games Back

  • From the Home Menu on your new console, select Nintendo eShop, indicated by an orange shopping bag on the lower row of circular icons.
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  • If prompted to select a User Account, select the User Account that made the purchases you wish to re-download.
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  • If prompted to sign in with your email and password for your User Profile, enter your email and password associated with your User Profile and select Sign In.
  • When the eShop has loaded, select the small version of your User Icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.
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  • Scroll down and select Redownload from the menu on the left side of the screen.
  • From here on the right side of the screen you will be presented with a list of the games you have purchased on this account.
  • Select the orange cloud icon to the right of each previously purchased game you wish to download onto your new console. You will not be charged again for any downloads from this menu.
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  • Once you have selected the orange cloud icon next to all the games you wish to redownload, press the Home Button to return to the Home Menu.
  • Your games are now downloading onto your new system, which may take several hours, but will continue even when the Switch is in Sleep Mode (providing you have the appropriate option enabled in the System Settings menu).
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That's it! Once they're finished you can dive right back in as though you never left, thanks to all your save data being transferred over earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just move my Micro SD Card with all my games on it to my new console rather than downloading them all again?

Sadly not, due to the particular jiggery pokery Nintendo has opted for, this just doesn't work.

Can I perform a System Transfer for more than one User Profile?

Absolutely! Simply repeat the steps listed above for every user you wish to transfer.

Do I need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to do all this?

Mercifully, no. You do not need any kind of subscription to transfer any of this info, even your precious Breath of the Wild save data.

What about all the screenshots and videos that I've captured?

As long as you take the Micro SD Card out of your old console and slip it into your new one, you should be able to keep all your old screenshots and videos. Just follow the onscreen prompts and you'll be golden.

Can I not just transfer my profile by rubbing both consoles together and chanting?

If you try it, please send us a video.