Modern Family’s Guide to Owning 2 Nintendo Switch Devices

Aaron Steers
2 min readAug 21, 2021

This guide was created of necessity for my own family, since we could not find this information easily available — and some of the guides and recommendations previously created are now stale in regards to Cloud Data Saves. Please leave your feedback in comments below, and let me know if you find anything here that can be improved.

What families expect with 2 gaming devices

I think the basic assumptions of any family owning 2 Switch devices is that they should be able to:

  1. play any purchased games on both devices
  2. play saved games across both devices
  3. enable multiple family members to play at the same time

While this all sounds simple enough, it is unfortunately far from straightforward on how to accomplish these three.


For the below, the “primary” device is assumed to be the first one you purchased. The “secondary” device is the second device purchased.

The “primary” account is the one you use to purchase games in the Nintendo Store.

Setting up the Second Device

To setup the second device, you’ll use the primary account. Make sure you say “yes” when asked if you are still using the previous device.

Rules of the Road

Rule 1: To play games on both devices, purchase games only under the primary profile.

Rule 2: On your primary device, you can play games under any profile.

Rule 3: On your second device, you can play games only under the primary profile — and only while you are connected to the internet.

Rule 4: You cannot play on both devices at the same time using the same profile.

Rule 5: On your primary device, you’ll need to play under an alternate profile in order to use both devices at the same time. (Follows from rules 2, 3, and 4.)

Rule 6: Cloud Saves can only be transferred using the primary profile. (Not all games support the Cloud Save feature.)

Rule 7: Physical games can be played on either device while the cartridge is inserted. (More info here.)

Cheat Sheet

On the primary device:

  • Only use the primary profile when you know no one is trying to use the other device.
  • Use the primary profile for games you want to transfer over to the secondary device.

On the secondary device:

  • Use the primary profile to use games purchased on the eShop.

On both devices:

  • Close games when you are not playing by pressing Xon the Menu screen.
  • Check on Cloud Save sync progress by clicking + on the Menu screen.

When purchasing games:

  • Always purchase with the primary profile when using the eShop.
  • Consider purchasing physical copies in order to have the freedom to play on any device the cartridge is inserted into.

In Summary

This is way more complex than it should be, in my opinion, but I hope this short guide is helpful any others out there who are considering becoming a 2-Switch family. Following this guide should allow you to play across both devices and carry saved games across devices too, at least for games that support Cloud Saves.