The Nintendo Switch’s screenshots and screen clipping tool are quick, handy, and pretty nice. Up until fairly recently, getting these off the Switch hasn’t been as helpful, particularly if you wanted to share them. However, starting with Switch OS version 11, you now have 2 new ways to transfer Switch screenshots to your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Let’s show you all 3 primary ways you can do this.
Before you begin this, make sure your Switch is running version 11 or higher. To do so, open the Settings app on your Switch, scroll down to “System” on the left sidebar, then hit “System Update” on the right side of the screen.
Via USB Cable:
The Switch uses a USB-C port to charge and connect to the dock, and you can use this to connect move the console to your computer. If you have a Nintendo Pro Controller, you already have a USB-C to USB-A cable that will work just fine. If you don’t have that, then you’ll need to get either a USB-C to USB-A cable or a USB-C only cable to connect them up. NOTE that your USB-C cable will need to have data transfer capabilities, meaning that a MacBook charging cable will not work for this. I recommend cables from either Anker or MonoPrice personally, but there are other good brands.
To get started
1. Connect your Switch to your machine via the USB cable.
2. Once they’re connected, then open the Settings app on your Switch, and scroll down to “Data Management” in the left sidebar. Then, on the right side of the screen, scroll down towards the bottom until you see the option “Manage Screenshots and Videos” and click that option.
3. A new screen will open up showing your System Memory and microSD card memory options. Scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see an option that says “Copy to a Computer via USB Connection” and select that.
4. A pop up window should appear for a few seconds saying the Switch is connecting, and then show a check mark that says “Connected to the computer”. Leave this window up while you have the 2 devices connected.
5. Now that your devices are connected, you can start moving photos over to your computer. If you’re on a Windows PC then you’re done. HOWEVER Mac users need to take an extra step, as the Switch isn’t visible as an external drive in the same way it is on Windows despite it being visible in an app like Switch’s built-in Image Capture.
6. Mac Users will need to download a third party tool, and I’d recommend using the Android File Transfer App available from Google. Download and Install the app.
7. Once Android File Transfer is installed, open the App, and you’ll find all your photos and videos organized in folders by the game they were taken in, then by date. You won’t be able to preview the photos, so in order to see them, you’ll need to drag them to a Finder window on your Mac.
9. When you are done, hit “Disconnect” on your Switch screen, and when it says it is safe, unplug the cable.
Wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device:
Nintendo also has provided a way to send individual or batches or media to our iOS or Android devices, though in an interesting way. The way it works essentially is that your Switch temporarily setups a Wifi broadcast that your mobile device connects to, and then can send the files to you directly over that. It’s similar to the way “Local Wireless Play” works in other Switch games like Animal Crossing, Smash Bros., and Mario Kart.
Here’s how it works:
1. Open the Photo Gallery app on your Switch, and open one of the photos or videos you want to transfer (if you want to transfer multiple ones, don’t worry, keep following these steps).
2. Once the media is opened, hit the “A” button on your Switch controller to open the “Sharing and Editing” Menu
3. You’ll now have a series of options pop up in a sidebar on the left, the second one from the top reading “Send to Smartphone”. Select this option.
4. You’ll then be presented with the option to transfer only the current file or a batch of media. If you select the latter option, you’ll then go through and select the other media you want. In this example, I’m just selecting the one photo, so I’ll hit “Only This One”.
5. The screen will change into a Step 1 and Step 2 screen, with a QR code on the Step One side. Scan the first QR code with your phone’s camera app or another QR code reading app. You’ll see a banner at the top of your phone screen asking you to connect to a network called “switch_AAA…”, with AAA… being a series of letters and numbers relating to your Switch. Click this banner.
6. You’ll be presented with another prompt confirming you want to join this wifi network. Hit the Join button and wait for the phone and Switch to shake hands. You’ll know it’s still working out because your Switch will have a banner that says “Waiting for your smartphone to connect” at the bottom of the screen.
7. When your phone finally connects, the first QR code will disappear and a new QR code will appear on the right side of the screen in the Step 2 area.
8. Scan this QR code the same way you did before. When you do this, a banner prompting you to open a link in your default browser will appear at the top of your screen. Click this to open the media in said browser. NOTE: If you’re using a browser other than the built-in one, say Firefox, you may be prompted to allow that browser to be able find and connect to devices on that local network. While not strictly necessary to work, I have found it easier to just hit OK and allow it. You can always go back and disallow this later.
9. In your browser, you’ll see the media you wanted to transfer. To save them to your Photos app, press and hold on the photo, and then hit “Save to Photos”. Now if you go to the Photos app, you’ll see the photos or videos in the most recent slot.
10. To stop the connection, you can close the tab in your browser and hit “End” on the Switch.
Via SD Card:
The Nintendo Switch’s internal storage of 32 GB is pretty small, which is a good think that it supports MicroSD cards. You can get some Nintendo licensed microSD cards from SanDisk, but those tend to be a little higher priced than non-licensed ones from SanDisk or Samsung (both of which are brands I’d recommend).
If you are using them to store your media, then you can turn off your Switch, take out the microSD card, then plug it into your computer or phone. Most modern Apple products don’t have SD card (save for the iMac), and none have built in MicroSD support. So you’re going to need an adapter for them. As usual, Anker products come highly recommended here. If you’re using a Mac or iPad Pro, this one comes with a USB-C head on end, and a traditional USB head on the other, meaning you can use it with older and newer machines equally well.
If you’re using an iPhone or non-Pro iPad, then you’ll need you’ll need to get a Lightning adapter instead. Apple sells their own SD card reader for iPhones and other devices using the Lightning port, however it only supports full sized SD Cards, not the Micro ones that the Switch uses. If you want to use that, you’d need a microSD to SD adapter. Alternatively some vendors sells adapters to connect microSD cards to the Lightning port, such as this one from SUNTRSI, but some users report issues on certain versions of iOS. I also haven’t used any of these 3rd party ones myself, so I can’t attest personally to their functionality.
Whatever adapter system you choose to use, connect the adapter to the phone, and then plug the MicroSD card into the adapter. You can then view and import the photos and videos from the SD card in either the Photos app or iOS’ Files app, and then clicking the “Import” button that appears in the bottom right corner of either app. Then you can import all of them, or manually select individual photos and videos you want.
With the most recent set of updates, Nintendo has given us several different ways to get our precious screenshots and clips onto our computers, tablets, and phones to save and share with the world.
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Hello! Just wanted to add that for iOS (and Android) you can get free app SwitchBuddy (which I made with a friend) that makes the transfer much faster 🙂