How to transfer old saves and downloads to a new Nintendo Switch or new Nintendo Switch Lite

How to transfer old saves and downloads to a Nintendo Switch Lite
How to transfer old saves and downloads to a Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

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

  1. From the Home Menu scroll over a game.
  2. Press the + button.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Scroll down to Save Data Cloud.
  2. 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.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Back Up Save Data.

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

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

  1. From the old Switch's Home Menu, select System Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Data Management.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click on Transfer Your Save Data.
  2. Click Send Save Data to Another Console.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select the account you want to use.
  2. Select the save data you want to send to a new console.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Send Save Data.

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

Go to the new console

  1. From the Home Menu, go to System Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Data Management.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click on Transfer Your Save Data.
  2. Click Receive Save Data.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. You will see this screen and the transfer process will begin.
  2. Click OK on both consoles.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

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:

  1. Go to accounts.nintendo.com. If you aren't signed in, this page will pop up.
  2. Sign in to the Nintendo Account you want to deactivate.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. This page will show up. Select Shop Menu.
  2. Click on Deregister Primary Console.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter your information.
  2. Click Ok.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Deregister.
  2. Click Deregister again.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

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

  1. On the old device, select Nintendo eShop from the HOME Menu.
  2. Select the Nintendo Account you want to deactivate on the console.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select the picture of your icon in the upper-right corner to access your Account Information.
  2. Scroll down to where it says Primary Console and click Deregister.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select Deregister once more.
  2. You might be asked to sign in to complete the process. If so fill in your account information.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click OK.

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

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

  1. From the Home Menu, go to System Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Users.Source: iMore

How to fix controller drift Nintendo Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click on Add User.
  2. Click Create New User.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter the nickname you'd like to go by.
  2. Select OK.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select an icon for your profile.
  2. Click the A button.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click OK.
  2. Click Link a Nintendo Account.Source: iMore

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select the sign in method you'd prefer to use.
  2. Enter your information.

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

Source: iMore

  1. Click Sign In.

How to transfer old save data to new Switch (Image credit: iMore)

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.