If you’re considering getting a new Nintendo Switch OLED model (or it’s already in your hands), you might be wondering how to get all of your user data and saves onto the new system, without messing things up.
If you’re asking me, the upgrade is well worth the cost. The folks at Nintendo were kind enough to send me the new console, and with its bigger, more vibrant screen, handy-dandy full-length kickstand and expanded onboard memory, I don’t know if I could ever go back—and I haven’t even mentioned its gorgeous white Joy-Cons. It looks better, feels better and even has more battery life than my first-generation Switch.
And while transferring everything from my old Switch to the OLED wasn’t too painful, there were a number of steps—including additional ones because I also had an Animal Crossing: New Horizons saved file to get over to the new system. To make things as easy as possible, here are the steps you can take to transfer your User Profile and save data between two Nintendo Switches, whether you’ve got the classic Switch, the Switch Lite or the new Switch OLED model.
The System Transfer
First, make sure that both of your systems are plugged in to charge, as well as set up with your wifi network. Then, make sure they’ve both got the most recent system update before placing both Switches next to each other.
If you’re like me and you’re hundreds of hours into your game of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and absolutely don’t want to lose your saved data there, you’ll also want to prepare for that transfer process at this point. First, make sure you’ve updated to the most recent version of the game. Then, go to the eShop on your old Switch with the save on it and download the Island Transfer Tool.
When you’re ready, go to “System Settings” (resembling a gear) at the bottom of your home screen, second from the right, on both consoles. Then, pick “Users” in the left menu, and find “Transfer Your User and Save Data” on the right.
Read the following pages, and continue to hit “Next” until you get to a screen that asks you which Switch will be the Source Console, and which will be the Target console. The Source Console will be your older one, with all of your saved data, games and your User Profile, while the Target Console will be the new Switch you want everything on. Select the appropriate title for each one.
On the Source Console, you’ll be asked which User Profile you want to transfer. Select your main profile. On the Target Console, you’ll be asked to sign in to your Nintendo Account linked to the old User Profile. Click “Sign In using an email address or Sign-In ID” and log in there with your email address and password before hitting “Sign In” again.
Once you’ve signed in successfully on the Target Console, you’ll see your User Profile icon on both. Push “Continue” and “Next” on each respective Switch, and your two Switches will begin looking for each other. If your wifi is strong, this should be almost instantaneous, and once the link has been found, you can click “Transfer” on the Source Console to begin the transfer process.
Depending on how much save data you have and the strength of your wifi connection, this may take a while. I recommend checking the progress every 15 minutes or so, as this may take over half an hour. Just make sure they’re plugged in and that they stay on the wifi, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Once the system transfer is complete, you’ll be told it was successful, and you can push “End” on both consoles. At this point, you’ll have all of the information from your User Profile, access to your eShop purchases and all of your saved data—unless you have a saved file for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. More on that later.
If you used a microSD card for saving on the Source Console, you can simply put that old microSD card in the new Target Console. Unfortunately, it will not carry over the game files (they’ll have to be re-downloaded on the new system) but it will take over screenshots and reformat the card for use on the new Switch.
It’s a bit of a process, but you’ll have to redownload all of your games on the new system. And don’t worry, if you’ve already paid for them on your User Profile, they’ll still be there to download for free. To find out what games you have, go to the eShop, select your user icon in the top right corner, and go to “Redownload” to see a list of your available games.
Transferring Your Animal Crossing: New Horizons Island
Like I mentioned, the save for Animal Crossing: New Horizons works a little differently from the rest, so you’ll have to follow a different process to get that data over, but it’s well worth it.
(Animal Crossing: New Horizons via Nintendo)
If you followed the steps above, you should already have the Island Transfer Tool downloaded on your old Switch. You’ll also want to download the Island Transfer Tool on your new Switch, as well as the latest version of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
If you had multiple users on your original Switch, trying to open the Island Transfer Tool with that other unlinked User Profile may give you the error message “This user cannot play this software. If you have not purchased the software, you can do so from Nintendo eShop.” If that happens, don’t panic! Simply link it to your Nintendo Account, and you shouldn’t have any issues opening the Island Transfer Tool.
Once the Island Transfer Tool has been opened on both Switches, follow the prompts. Select “Continue” and “Let’s Begin” on each respective Switch, then set the old Switch as the Source Console and the new Switch as the Target Console, and confirm. Then hit “Continue” and “Proceed” on the respective Switches, and the two consoles will search for each other. Once they’ve found the other console, hit “Transfer Data” on the Source Console and “Proceed” on the Target Console. The process will begin, and before long, you’ll have successfully brought over your Animal Crossing: New Horizons data over to your new Switch. Congrats!
Need to add more games to your library? Click HERE to check out the 10 new Nintendo Switch games you have to put on your wish list this year.