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How to Transfer Screenshots from a Nintendo Switch to a Computer

Nintendo Switch Hero Image
Nintendo

One of the coolest features of the Nintendo Switch is that you can quickly take screenshots in almost any game using a dedicated Capture button. Here’s how to get those screenshots off your Nintendo Switch console using a microSD card.

How Screenshots Work on the Nintendo Switch

By default, whenever you push the Capture button, the Nintendo Switch saves an image of the current screen to a JPEG image file on a microSD card if you have one inserted. If not, the Switch saves them to internal memory. Some parts of the Switch system software (and possibly some games) block screenshots from being taken, but in general, the feature works everywhere.

Once captured, you can view screenshots using the Switch’s built-in Album feature, which is accessible on the home screen (the white circle with the blue rectangle inside, like a tiny photo of Mario-style hills).

RELATED: How to Take Screenshots and Videos on Your Nintendo Switch

What You Need to Transfer Switch Screenshots

Here’s what you need to transfer screenshots to another device:

  • A Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite
  • A microSD card large enough to hold the images you want to transfer
  • A microSD card reader (or an SD card reader with a microSD card adapter) that works with the device you’d like to transfer the images to.

Some devices, such as certain models of Apple or Windows computers, have built-in full-size SD card readers. To use one of those, you will need a microSD to SD adapter.

If you have an iPhone or iPad with a Lightning port, you can copy images using a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. If you have an iPad with a USB-C port, you can use Apple’s USB-C to SD Card Reader. For either solution, you will need a microSD to SD adapter as well.

To read an SD card on an Android device (if your device has a Micro USB port), you will need a Micro USB SD card reader such as this one, which also includes a microSD card slot so you do not need an adapter.

Transfer Screenshots from System Memory to a microSD Card

If you already had a microSD card inserted into the system when you took the screenshots, chances are that they are already stored on the card. If so, skip down to the next section.

If you captured your screenshots prior to inserting a microSD card, then the Switch has saved them to internal memory. To transfer them off the Switch, you must first copy them to a microSD card.

Copy All Screenshots at Once

To copy all of the screenshots on your Switch to a microSD card in bulk, open System Settings on the Nintendo Switch home screen by selecting the small white circle with a sun icon in the middle.

System Settings icon on Nintendo Switch home screen

In System Settings, scroll down and select Data Management, then select Manage Screenshots and Videos.

Selec Manage Screenshots and Videos in Nintendo Switch settings

On the Manage Screenshots and Videos screen, make sure Save Location is set to “microSD Card”, then select “System Memory” and press A.

Manage Screenshots and Videos menu in Nintendo Switch settings

Select “Copy All Screenshots and Video to microSD Card” and press A.

Copy screenshots to microSD card Nintendo Switch

A pop-up window will show you the copy progress. Once it’s complete, the screenshots are stored on the card. Skip down to the “How to Transfer Screenshots from a microSD Card to Another Device” section below.

Copy Screenshots Individually

To copy certain screenshots one-by-one to a microSD card, you’ll need to use the Switch’s built-in Album feature. It is accessible on the home screen of the Nintendo Switch (the white circle with the blue rectangle inside).

Album icon on Nintendo Switch home screen

Once in Album, highlight the photo you’d like to copy to the card and press A for “Editing and Posting.” A menu will pop up on the left side of the screen. Select “Copy” and hit A.

A pop-up will ask you if you want to copy the image to the microSD card. Select “Copy,” and the image will be copied to the microSD card.

How to Transfer Screenshots from a microSD Card to Another Device

Once you know that your screenshots are stored on a microSD card, it’s time to transfer them over to another device.

Turn off your Switch by holding down the power button for three seconds. A menu will pop up. Select “Power Options”, then “Turn Off”.

(If you take out the microSD card without powering down, the Switch will suspend whatever game you were running, complain about it on screen, and force you to shut down.)

After powering down, remove the microSD card from your Nintendo Switch. On the full-sized switch, the microSD slot is located under the kickstand on the back of the unit.

Nintendo Swtich microSD slot location
Nintendo

On the Switch Lite, the microSD slot is located under a small plastic flap on the bottom edge of the unit.

Nintendo Switch Lite microSD slot location
Nintendo

Once the microSD card has been removed, insert it into your microSD card reader of choice. A computer with a microSD card slot will work, and you can also buy microSD card readers that connect via USB.

On the microSD card, you can access the screenshots in the path “\Nintendo\Album”, and they are sorted into folders by date starting with year, then month, then day. For example, a Switch screenshot taken on March 5, 2020 would be in the “\Nintendo\Album\2020\3\5” folder on the microSD card.

From there you can use your device’s operating system to copy the images wherever you’d like.  Edit them, share them—it’s up to you. Have fun, and happy gaming!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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