How to Free Up Space On Your Nintendo Switch’s Internal Storage

June 20, 2017

The Nintendo Switch comes with a meager 32GB of storage. You can expand your storage with an SD card, but that’s still a pretty small amount of space on your console. Here are several ways you can clear up internal storage space, or at least offload some of that data to an SD card.

By default, if you have an SD card installed in your Switch, the console will automatically store downloaded games and screenshots to it until it’s full. If you started using your console without an SD card, or if you don’t have one, you might need to clean house once in a while.

There are two ways to delete games on the Switch. You can either delete them, which will take all your game save data with it, or you can “archive” them. Archiving a game will delete all of the game data (which takes up the bulk of the space on your console) but leave your game saves where they are. That way, if you download the game again in the future, you don’t have to start over.

This is important because your game saves are only stored on your console. Nintendo doesn’t sync your game saves, let you back them up, or even copy them to your SD card. If you delete a game from your console, your game save is gone forever. So if you haven’t played Breath of the Wild for a bit and want to delete it to make room for something else, archive it instead. For that reason we almost always recommend archiving instead of deleting games if you ever want to come back to them.

If a game is installed on your Switch’s internal storage, you’ll also need to archive it in order to move it over to your SD card. Start by inserting your SD card, then archive the game you want to move. Once it’s gone, re-download the game from the eStore and it will be installed on the SD card by default.

To archive a game, select it on your home screen and press either the + or – buttons on your controller.

This will open up an Options menu. Scroll down to Manage Software and select Archive Software. If you are 100% certain that you never want to play a game again and want to free up a little more space, choose Delete Software. Again, though, there is no way to recover your game saves if you delete the game from your console.

You can also see which games are taking up the most space and uninstall those—as well as manage other data hogs like screenshots—from the Settings menu. First, select Settings from the home screen.

Scroll down to Data Management. Here, choose Manage Software.

On this screen, you’ll see a list of your games, sorted by how much space they take up on your console. Select one of the games and you can either archive or delete it.

Back on the Data Management screen, you also have one other option labeled Manage Save Data/Screenshots.

Under this menu, you can either choose Delete Save Data or Manage Screenshots. We’ll start with Delete Save Data.

This screen will list all the games that you have save data for, as well as how much space those game saves are taking up. Select a game to delete some saves.

If you have saves from multiple player profiles, you can delete them each individually on this screen. This is particularly handy if you’ve let someone else use your console, but they won’t be playing again. Remember, if you delete game save data from here, it can never be restored.

Under the Manage Screenshots menu, you’ll find a few different options. You can change the default save location for your screenshots (when you insert an SD card it should become the default, but you can change this if you’d rather save screenshots to your internal storage), copy your screenshots from one storage to another, or delete all of your screenshots at once. If you choose Manage Individual Images, you’ll be taken to the Album app where you can browse screenshots, delete just certain photos, or even share them to Facebook and Twitter.

For the most part, game downloads will take up the bulk of the space on your console, but you can archive the games without losing your save data. If you’re done playing with a game for a while, just archive it and keep your saves. Between that and easing up on the screenshot button a bit, you can manage with that 32GB of internal storage just fine.

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