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How to Use the Switch’s New Image Transfer System

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Online functionality has never been Nintendo’s bread and butter.

Recently, Nintendo updated the firmware on the Switch to allow easier transfer of in-game screenshots to other devices like phones and computers. This is certainly a welcome change; if I wanted to share an Animal Crossing screenshot with my friends on Discord, I had to post the thing to Facebook first just so I could get the image on my computer. But much like the inception of Friend Codes, Nintendo always seems to have this weird compulsion to try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to online stuff. As such, the new image transfer system is a smidge on the esoteric side.

Here’s how it works: in your Switch’s gallery menu, you can highlight up to 10 images, and then click the new “send to your smartphone” option. Instead of just emailing the images to yourself or something, though, you have to perform what I can only call a “digital mind meld” between your Switch and mobile device. When you select your images, you’ll be asked to scan a QR code with your phone. By scanning this code, you’ll apparently create a direct wireless connection between your Switch and your phone. Once they’re connected, you’ll receive a second QR code, which will provide a web browser link from which you can download the images. The good news is that you can get all of your selected images at once. The bad news is that you’ll have to do this silly little dance again every time you want to grab new images.

It’s not an agonizing process by any means, but it does seem a bit needlessly obtuse for what could probably be accomplished pretty easily through Nintendo’s seldom-used Switch Online app. Though, if you happen to have an extra USB cable lying around that you’re not using, then that’s good news for you, as the update added the ability to transfer files through wired connections. One end goes into the Switch, the other into the computer, and then pictures happen. If only everything in life could be so simple.