How to master… the Nintendo Switch

Become a Switch pro with these 21 must-read tips and tricks

In expected fashion, the Nintendo Switch is incredibly easy to understand and use, and even potentially complicated processes are made about as painless as possible. Good job, Nintendo.

That said, while basic usage might be obvious, there are plenty of ways to get even more out of your home/portable hybrid console, and some things you might not know about or expect. For example, have you set up parental controls for the family? Do you know how to record and share video clips? Are you prepared to do a hard reset after a gnarly system crash?

Luckily, a quick read of these 21 tips ahead can turn you into a Switch pro pronto. Read on to learn how to master the system, with tips catering to beginners, intermediate players, and advanced users alike.

Also, be sure to read our picks for the best Nintendo Switch games available today, as well as some of the top cheap titles on the eShop. And if you need to kit out your console with some fresh gear, we've got recommendations there as well.

Additional words by Adam Cook


Intermediate | Advanced

Beginner Tips

1) Get a microSD card

The Switch comes with 32GB of storage as standard (we know, in this day and age…) and after the operating system there's barely 26GB left for your games and screenshots. Unfortunately, some games will fill your console storage up entirely on their own: we’re looking at you Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2.

It's funny, really, because the Switch can actually accept microSD cards so big they aren’t even actually available to buy yet, but you'll be wanting to push the 256GB mark if you can. They're available for a reasonable price, but shop around, and remember the microSD slot is hidden under the kickstand on the back of the console itself.

2) Get your Nintendo account ready

Rather than lose out to someone else for your special username of “EliteGame4xy27b”, get yourself over to this link and register your Nintendo Online Service ID right away.

Beyond having your own unique ID for online interactions - which will become more important when the full-bodied Switch Online service launches in September - you'll also need it for eShop digital purchases. And you'll earn gold coins for buying games, too, and can use those for discounts on future purchases. Nice.

3) Take screenshots, create your own memes

Being a modern console, the Switch allows you to take screenshots with a handy button on the left Joy-Con. It's actually the fastest at doing this of all the current crop of gaming consoles, and it has something a little bit special, too.

In the Album section on the main menu, you can arrange your screenshots, delete bad ones, and yep, add text to them. Fancy creating the next hit meme directly via your Switch? No worries. You can also post these screenshots to social media, so you really can be the next trending topic.

4) Close games before changing cards

This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you close your game down before you take the card out of the back.  If you just whip out The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and put Just Dance 2017 in, then you might lose your progress in Zelda. Imagine how grim that whole scenario would be.

Luckily, it's super easy to close out your game and dodge the potential for data loss. Just hover over the last-opened game, press X, and agree to close it out. Done. Think before you Switch!

5) Create your own Mii

Amazingly, while Nintendo hasn't completely abandoned the Mii system for Switch, it does seem far less intrinsic to the overall console experience. But don't let that stop you from creating one. After all, you might want to cruise around Mario Kart 8: Deluxe with your own cartoonish mug staring down rivals as you pass following an epic turtle shell toss.

In System Settings, you can create a new Mii from a likeness, start from scratch, or copy one from an Amiibo. It's fun, it only takes a few minutes, and you might get a good laugh out of it - especially if mates are around.

6) Add online friends

Yes, Nintendo's obnoxious friend code system remains intact on the Switch, meaning you'll have to exchange a serial code-like number to link up with pals and play. While that's true, luckily Nintendo has also added other ways to bring in buddies.

Now you can also easily add friends who you've already connected with via Nintendo's smartphone games or the Wii U console, plus you can plug in your Twitter and Facebook accounts and find friends you know from there. That's a huge upgrade, and it makes it much easier to own your friends in Mario Kart.

7) Find a lost controller

The little left and right controller nubs are kept purposefully small to ensure portability, but it also makes them harder to find should you misplace one somewhere. First off, don't un-dock them unless you have to. But second, the Switch itself can help.

If your Joy-Con controller is still paired but currently out of sight, you can make it vibrate to help you locate it. Just hit the Controllers menu from the Switch's main menu, hit "Find Controller," and then tap a Joy-Con or Pro Controller to make it furiously vibrate. Hopefully that'll get you back in the game right away.