How to Transfer Screenshots From a Nintendo Switch to a Mac


Maybe you’re keeping a record of your gameplay for posterity or boasting about your gamer skills on social media. You might even be sourcing images for review work or writing. Whatever your reason, the struggle to get screenshots from your Nintendo Switch to a Mac is real.

Fortunately, there are several methods you can try out, and each has its benefits.

Taking Nintendo Switch Screenshots


The screenshot button is present on any Switch controller, including the left Joy-Con and the Pro Controller. It’s a square button with a hollow circle icon, just to the bottom right of the directional buttons on the Joy-Con.

Press the button once to take a screenshot of whatever’s currently on-screen. Hold the button briefly to record a video clip of the last 30 seconds.

You can find your screenshots and videos in the Album, via the middle icon of the seven at the bottom of your home screen. By default, your Switch saves screenshots in system memory, but you can set the save destination to your SD card via System Settings > Data Management > Manage Screenshots and Videos.

Transfer to Mac via SD Card

A hand inserting an SD card into the slot on the side of a Macbook

The old-school method, probably the most long-winded, but straightforward, is to transfer files by swapping physical media.

You’ll need some kind of adapter or hub that can read microSD cards since any Mac that does have a built-in reader will only accept the larger SD format. The best USB-C hubs for the MacBook Pro all include a microSD card reader.

  1. Make sure your Switch is set to store screenshots on the SD card. Do this via System Settings > Data Management > Manage Screenshots and Videos.
    The Nintendo Switch Manage Screenshot page showing Save Destination

  2. If you have screenshots in internal memory that you want to transfer, move them to the SD card first. Do this by going to the Manage Screenshots and Videos screen, as in the previous step, then Copy/Delete Screenshots and Videos > System Memory > Copy All Screenshots and Videos to microSD Card.
    Nintendo Switch screenshot showing System Memory page with the Copy All Screenshots action selected

  3. Turn your Switch off. Make sure to power off completely or you’ll get a warning about possible data damage.
  4. Remove the SD card, insert it into your reader, and wait for the device to show in Finder.
    Example contents of a Nintendo Switch SD card in Finder

You can now transfer your files using Finder or a file app of your preference. Since the SD card is a separate volume, transferring files will usually copy them by default rather than moving them. Make sure to delete the files from your SD card if you no longer need them.

The Switch uses an automatic file structure for screenshots, storing image files in Album > {Year} > {Month} > {Day}

The advantage of this approach is that there’s little to go wrong. Once you’re used to the process, it becomes automatic. But it’s fiddly, especially due to the tiny size of the micro SD card.

Post to Twitter, Then Download

You can post your screenshots to social media straight from your Switch. You can use your social media account as an intermediary to transfer media to your Mac.

If you have a Twitter account, this option may work for you, especially if you’re already used to posting screenshots. There’s also a Facebook alternative.

If you haven’t already set up Twitter on your Nintendo Switch, you can do so using these steps:

  1. Under your profile, go to User Settings > Album > Social Network Posting Settings.
    Nintendo Switch settings page showing the Social Network Posting Settings option

  2. Click Link next to the Twitter service.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete setup.

Once you’ve set up a connection with your Twitter account, you can post screenshots either individually or several at a time. The current limit is four at once.

  1. Go to Album from your Home screen.
  2. Select a screenshot with A.
  3. Press A again to enter the Posting and Editing screen.
  4. Press A again to select Post.
  5. Select either Post Individually or Post Multiple. If you’re posting multiple images, you’ll need to select them before proceeding to the next step.
  6. Select your user account.
  7. Select Post to Twitter.

Your tweet will appear shortly. When it does, you can download the screenshot image to your computer.

This method is easy to use to transfer a handful of screenshots. However, you will need a Twitter account, and you’ll be posting your screenshots in public which may not be ideal. You can only post between one and four screenshots at once, so this approach will be very time-consuming if you have a lot of images to transfer.

Unfortunately, this method is also not as easy to use to transfer videos. Although you can save videos from Twitter, it’s a long-winded process.

Transfer Using a USB Cable

This option is easier with a PC than a Mac, but it’s a good choice if you have problems with the others.

USB-C on Macbook
Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr

  1. Install an MTP client. Android File Transfer and OpenMTP are two good choices.
  2. Connect your Switch’s USB-C port to your Mac, using a cable that supports data transfer.
  3. System Settings > Manage Screenshots and Videos > Copy to PC via USB Connection.
    Nintendo Switch page showing action to copy screenshots to PC via USB

  4. You should see a message that your console is connected. If not, you’ll see an instruction to connect it:
    A Nintendo Switch dialog asking you to connect the console to a PC via USB

You should now be able to use the MPT client on your Mac to transfer your files. Android File Transfer and OpenMTP each provide a file management interface, similar to Finder.

While this method should, in theory, be the most convenient, it turns out to be unreliable. You’ll need the right USB cable, the right MTP software, and a sizable helping of good luck. It’s quite likely you’ll run into a “Could not connect to device” error and give up out of frustration.

Nintendo doesn’t officially support this method for Mac users, so it’s not surprising that it has flaws. But if you can get it to work, it’s the least fiddly and quickest of the three options.

Several Options, None of Them Perfect

Each of these methods of screenshot transfer has benefits, but drawbacks too. At least there are options; hopefully, one of them works for you and is convenient enough for long-term use.

Remember, you can also share photos with a smartphone or a Windows PC. Try either of these methods if transferring to Mac is too problematic.


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