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Nintendo published a handy video guide to a New Nintendo 3DS system transfer, but here we're providing a written equivalent that somewhat matches the pace of the process. Trust us, this'll take you longer than three and a half minutes, and we'll also aim to cover off any gaps in the information that need to be taken into account.

Like the video we'll be providing instructions for the best transfer option, that which uses a PC in the process. If completing a transfer wirelessly - which will take many hours - the process is largely the same just with tweaks after that step. We highly recommend the PC-based approach, however, even if you need to temporarily access one belonging to a friend, family member or particularly kindly neighbour. The main hassle, this time, is the transition from SD to micro-SDHC, areas we hope to cover off here.

Note: This guide is for a first transfer from an original 3DS to a fresh New Nintendo 3DS / XL. We'll post updated tips for New 3DS to New 3DS and any other variations besides in the future.

So, let's get to it.

Getting Started

It's worth making sure you've got the following, if applicable, before you even contemplate kicking off the process.

  • A small screwdriver (various types work) that'll loosen the back end of the New Nintendo 3DS.
  • A micro-SDHC card with at least the same capacity as your current SD card.
  • An SD to micro-SD converter - typically PCs or laptops either have an SD card slot or use adapters, so a converter (which is the shape of an SD card in which you slot the smaller media) is a must.
  • An SD adapter for the PC, if required - USB options can be found for just a few dollars online or at relevant stores.
  • A PC, laptop, Mac with enough hard drive space to accommodate your SD card content.
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  • We suggest that prior to starting and booting up the New 3DS you place your new micro-SDHC (if you're not using the 4GB card that comes with the system) in the console. You unscrew the back and slide it in the slot. This isn't essential - we swapped out the micro-SDHC with a 32GB capacity card later in the process - but it's perhaps an extra fail-safe worth completing. IF you have a New system with a pre-installed game, follow the extra step below.
  • This bullet point only affects those that have a bundle with a pre-installed game. Simply put the packed-in New 3DS 4GB micro-SDHC into your PC and copy all contents onto that computer. Now, ensure your larger micro-SDHC is completely blank, and copy the data from the packed in card to the new micro-SDHC. Now pop the larger capacity card into the New 3DS.

Starting the System Transfer

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Moving onto the business end now, the first thing to do is to fire up your New Nintendo 3DS - plugging it in is a good idea - and work through the initial setup. This will involve picking a system name, applying a time / date and calibrating the 3D effect, among other things.

You shouldn't be prompted to set up or link a Nintendo Network ID in the early screens, but ensure that you do not setup an NNID under any circumstances.

Once initial setup is complete and you're on the familiar home screen, head into System Settings, Other Settings and select System Update, just to check it's on the latest firmware.

Once that's complete, boot up your old 3DS and get both systems to the main screen; head into System Settings, then Other Settings.

Select System Transfer on both consoles.


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  • Once the process begins select 3DS family transfer on both machines - you'll be hopping between the two screens frequently.
  • Select "Send from this system" on your old 3DS, and "Receive from Nintendo 3DS" on the New Nintendo 3DS.
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  • Your old 3DS will show the name you gave the New hardware, tap this. Then tap Yes on the following prompt on the New 3DS. Prompts on your old portable will then advise you that, following the transfer, all data will be moved and therefore deleted from the source, while any data on the New 3DS will also be overwritten. This cannot be undone. Say yes at the prompts and tap "Transfer" on the old 3DS when it appears.
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  • At this point the New 3DS will prompt you to delete any data on the micro-SDHC - whether re-using another card or starting with a new (blank) one, you need to agree and tap "Delete".
  • When asked on the New 3DS whether any other microSD cards have been used with the system, say "No".
As the eagle-eyed may spot, we had to do another transfer after wrongly tapping No on another system - be sure to Tap YES on this screen
Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life
  • The next screen on the old 3DS is the most confusing, so be careful. If you're transferring from a standard 3DS / XL with an SD card, select Yes. This is easily the most poorly worded part of the process, but select Yes to state that you have a standard SD card in the old 3DS.

Continuing with a micro-SDHC already used in an original 3DS

If you are actually using a micro-SDHC card in your old 3DS (with an adapter) and want to keep using that same memory, then select No and the process below will be slightly different (easier, actually) as you'll be replicating the simple act (at the right time) of letting the systems process before simply moving your card into the New system.

Though the prompts will be different, the process should actually be simpler, as you won't be required to move files onto a PC and then onto a new card. Follow the prompts for a limited wireless transfer between the two units and, only when told to do so, switch both machines off and move the micro-SDHC across to the New Nintendo 3DS. This is far more reminiscent of the original System Transfer process.

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Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life
  • The next screen on the old 3DS offers three transfer options - Wireless, Low-Capacity micro-SD card transfer and PC-based transfer. Wireless is a poor option, as it takes an exceptional amount of time for the two systems to transfer everything locally, while the second option is improved but still relies on some local transfer. As highlighted above, the PC-based transfer is the best option. Select it.
  • Tap Move to kick off the process.
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  • Go and get a refreshing beverage as miniature Pikmin transfer basic data for system apps.
  • Once finished, tap OK on both systems. The old 3DS will be entirely reformatted, just as it was the day you first got it. The New Nintendo 3DS will restart.
  • Now, turn off both systems.
  • Take your SD card and plug it into your PC. Copy the contents of the SD card onto the computer.
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Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life
  • Now connect your micro-SDHC card to the computer and simply copy/paste/move that former SD card content onto it.
  • Put the micro-SDHC card back into the New Nintendo 3DS / XL, boot it up and all of your content, Nintendo Network ID and so on will have transferred. Some demo and video content may get lost in the transfer (but can be re-downloaded from the eShop), but otherwise you should be able to kick off and continue gaming on the new hardware.
  • Play video games.

Accessing Pre-Installed Games After a Transfer

If you buy a Nintendo Nintendo 3DS that comes with a game pre-installed - at launch some specific systems come with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, varying by region - then it will be wiped as part of the System Transfer process. Nintendo's support page states that you will simply be able to re-download the affected game from the eShop. Simply find the game's page on the eShop and it should provide an option to re-download, or go into Menu / Settings / Other / Redownloadable software.

Finally, below we have Nintendo's official video guide, which is pretty useful.

If you have any remaining questions about the transfer be sure to let us know in the comments below.