Update July 2021: I’ve updated the “What Next” section of this article to reflect the announcement of the new Nintendo Switch OLED.
The Nintendo Switch comes with 32GB of internal storage, part of which is used by the consoles operating system.
That will be a problem if you plan to download lots of games because the Switch’s internal space can easily fill up after one or two game downloads.
I will give you an example of how you can quickly fill up your Switch’s storage.
Pokémon Sword and Shield takes 10.3GB, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild uses 13.4GB.
If you download both these games combined they’ll take up 23.7GB.
The Switch’s operating system takes about 4GB that will leave you with 4.3GB which is hardly enough to fit another game.
Luckily the Nintendo Switch has a microSD card slot that you can use to expand your console’s memory.
The Switch doesn’t come with a microSD card.
So, you’ll have to buy one and then transfer downloaded games to the SD card to free up your Nintendo Switch system memory.
How to move Nintendo Switch games to a microSD card. Transferring games to your SD card is easy. To do that, go to the Switch home screen and select System Settings, then on the left side of the screen scroll down to select Data Management. On the resulting menu choose Move Data Between System/ microSD to start transferring games from your console’s internal memory to the microSD card.
Read on for a more detailed guide on how to transfer Nintendo Switch games to a microSD card.
Move Switch games to your SD card [step by step tutorial]
Until recently moving data from the Nintendo Switch internal memory to an SD card was quite a bother.
If your system storage filled up and you wanted to free it up by offloading Nintendo Switch games to a microSD card you had to redownload the games to the card.
This would take quite a lot of time, especially if you have many games.
Thankfully, an update to the Nintendo Switch’s firmware has made it possible to directly transfer games and apps from the console to external memory.
Here is how to do that.
Note for this to work you need to have installed the latest Nintendo Switch system update.
If you’re not already using the recent software update do the following:
- On the Switch home screen go to System Settings and click on it.
- Next click on System, and then System Update.
- If a software update is available it will be automatically downloaded.
Once the software is current you can follow the process below to transfer games from your Switch’s internal memory to your microSD card.
- Turn off your Nintendo Switch by holding down the Power Button.
- Insert your microSD card in its slot which is located behind a kickstand at the back of the Switch.
- Turn your console back on.
- From the Switch’s home screen select System Setting. It is the icon that looks like a cogwheel.
- On the left side of the screen scroll down to Data Management then click on it.
- On the menu that appears on the right side of your screen select Move Data Between System/ microSD card.
- You’ll be given two options: Move to microSD card and Move to System Memory. Select Move to microSD card. In the future, if you want to move games from your SD card to the internal memory you’ll choose Move to System Memory at this point.
- Next, you’ll be given a list of all the games on your console. Choose the games(s) you want to move to your SDcard.
- Once you select the games click on Move Data at the bottom right of your screen.
- A pop-up will appear informing you that you’re about to move data. Click on Move and the transfer will start. A pop-up with a progress bar will show you the time left before the transfer is complete.
- Once the move is complete another popup with the message Data move complete will appear. Click OK, and you’ll have created more free space on your internal memory.
Note that game save data will not be moved to the SD card.
This data remains on the Switch’s local storage, and even when you play games from the microSD card saved data will always be stored on the console’s internal memory.
Which size microSD card should you use with your Nintendo Switch?
The answer to the above question depends on what type of gamer you’re.
If you’re constantly downloading new games on your Nintendo Switch, you should purchase a high-capacity 128GB and above MicroSD card.
With such a card you’ll be able to download many games without having to worry about space.
If you only play a few games on your Switch a 64GB microSD card will suffice.
Also if you prefer using Nintendo Switch game cartridges you don’t need a big SD card, because your Switch’s internal memory only holds game save data and not the entire game when using a cartridge.
So, a 32GB card would be fine.
I, however, strongly recommend that you don’t get an SD card with less than 64GB.
If you’re shopping for a microSD card here are my recommendations of the best Nintendo Switch microSD cards to buy.
The SanDisk microSDXC is an Ultra High-Speed Phase I (UHS-I) card that offers transfer speeds of up to 100MB/s for fast game loading.
It is officially licensed by Nintendo as one of the cards to use with your Switch and has plenty of five-star reviews on Amazon.
I love that it has enough space to store multiple games and that it comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
This is another Nintendo-licensed memory card that allows you to add 128GB of memory to your Nintendo Switch.
It also offers transfer rates of up to 100MB/s for fast game uploads.
This SD card is perfect if you’re always buying Nintendo games and would like to access all of them in one place.
If you’re always playing your Nintendo Switch and running out of space this the microSD card for you.
256GB gives you a lot of space to download multiple games and store video captures, apps, and screenshots.
This card has a read speed of 100 MB per second which ensures you spend more time enjoying your favorite Nintendo Switch game than waiting for it to load.
This microSD features read speeds of 80MB/s and write speeds of 70MB/s. This ensures you experience a fast opening of games and quick download speeds.
If you buy this card it will come with a lifetime warranty and free tech support.
This is one of the best SD cards on the market.
It has up to 95 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write speeds. This guarantees you good performance when opening and downloading games.
Its 256GB capacity gives even the most avid gamer plenty of space to store their games.
It also has 4-proof protection making it durable and comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
Tips to help you buy a good microSD card
- Only microSDXC and microSDHC type of microSD cards are compatible with the Nintendo Switch. So when buying one ensure it is one of the two types.
- If you can’t tell which type of card it is, I recommend you buy a Nintendo officially licensed microSD card like the SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I card for Nintendo 64GB
- For the best quality microSD cards, I recommend buying from known brands like Samsung, SanDisk, and Lexar.
- Look at a card’s transfer speeds, durability, if it comes with a warranty, and technical support when considering which microSD card to buy.
Although you can buy game cartridges, which don’t take up a lot of space, to use with the Switch, it is more convenient and cheaper to download games.
The problem is digital game downloads can in no time fill up your console’s 32GB internal memory.
To avoid the headache of always having to worry about space you should buy a microSD card to expand your Switch’s memory.
There are many affordably priced SD cards on the market like the SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I card for Nintendo 128GB and the Samsung EVO+ 256GB UHS-I microSDXC U3 Memory Card, which you can buy from Amazon.
Once you get a microSD card, transfer your games to the new external memory by going to System Setting on your Switch’s home screen, then scrolling down to select Data Management and Move Data Between System/ microSD on the menu that appears.
Will the Switch Pro have more internal memory? Rumors of the Switch Pro have been around for a while. But lately, they have been picking up speed. It would make sense that Nintendo would include more internal memory. But with the MicroSD slot, it’s not that big of an issue. The Switch OLED was announced ahead of a planned Switch Pro. this comes with 64GBs of internal storage.
Why can’t I save my school work on the MicroSD card I use for my Switch? The Switch formats any MicroSD card before it can use it. This is done to make sure the card is saved to use with the Switch and to make sure your data is secure. So Unfortunately you can’t dual-use the card.
Can I swap MicroSD cards on the same Switch? It is not recommended to use two memory cards for the Switch. It can be done, but it has been noted to cause some conflicts. This could result in loss saves or having to re-download a game. Also if you are inserting and removing a MicroSD card always powerful off your Nintendo switch first.