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How to backup and transfer Nintendo Switch save data with a Mac

Cult of Mac 2020-08-18 04:40:58
You'll need a microSD card reader.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Buying a new Nintendo Switch memory card, or simply worried you might one day lose all your precious save data? Back up your Switch to your Mac for peace of mind and easy save transfers. We’ll show you how.

Nintendo makes it easy to transfer save data from one Nintendo Switch to another for those who buy a brand-new system. But it gets a little more complicated when you’re sticking with your existing console.

If all you want to do is install a larger microSD card, you’ll need to transfer your data differently (assuming you wish to keep it). The good news is it won’t take you long, but there are some things you’ll need.

Back up and transfer Nintendo Switch data with a Mac

One of those things is a Mac (or PC). The other is a microSD card reader (unless your machine has one built-in, of course). You will also need to have your new microSD card on hand before starting.


Once you’re ready to go, simply follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your Nintendo Switch.
  2. Remove your current microSD card from underneath the kickstand on the back of the device.
  3. Insert the microSD card into the microSD card slot on your PC, or into a microSD card reader connected to your machine.
  4. Open Finder on your Mac or Windows Explorer on your PC, then select your microSD card to view its data.
  5. Highlight all the data and drag it to your desktop to create a local copy of it.
  6. Remove your current microSD card. Do not format it until your data has been transferred to your new card and you have verified that everything is intact.
  7. Plug in your new microSD card. Right-click the card in Finder on your Mac or Windows Explorer on your PC, then format it.
  8. Highlight all the data you copied to your desktop, then drag it to your new microSD card in Finder or the Windows Explorer.
  9. Once you have confirmed that copying is complete, remove your new microSD card, put it into your Nintendo Switch, then turn your console back on.

You can now verify that all your games and save data are intact. Once you’re happy, you can delete the data you transferred to your Mac or PC and format your old microSD card so that it can be used elsewhere.

Hold onto your backup?


However, if you have ample free storage space on your machine, we recommend holding onto your data backups for as long as possible. You then have a backup if the microSD card inside your Switch fails.

Some Switch games now support cloud saves, so if a data loss does occur, you can restore your progress over the internet. However, others do not, so once that data is lost, it’s gone for good.