How to Connect the Nintendo Switch to Your Laptop

Use your laptop to play games with the Switch console

What to Know

  • Connect your laptop to an Elgato HD60 HDMI capture card and run Game Capture HD on your laptop.
  • Alternatively, run the PC versions of your favorite Nintendo Switch games on your laptop.

This article explains how to connect the Nintendo Switch to a laptop and play games such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Animal Crossing New Horizons on your computer. Lacking an HDMI capture card, you also can play the PC versions of your favorite Nintendo Switch games on your laptop

You may recall using an HDMI connection to mirror your computer’s screen on a monitor or TV screen. This is an HDMI Out port and can’t be used for importing other media onto your laptop’s screen.

How to Connect Nintendo Switch to a Laptop

To play your Nintendo Switch on your laptop, you basically use your laptop’s monitor as a TV screen, so you can leave your Nintendo Switch in its dock for the entirety of this setup process.

  1. Disconnect the Nintendo Switch’s HDMI cable from your TV.

  2. Plug the Nintendo Switch’s HDMI cable into the HDMI In port on your Elgato HD60 HDMI capture card.

    This entire process can be power-intensive, so it’s a good idea to plug both your laptop and Nintendo Switch dock into a power source.

  3. On your laptop, open Game Capture HD.

    Elgato Game Capture HD on Windows 10
  4. Turn your Nintendo Switch console on by pressing the Home button on any connected controller.

  5. Connect the USB cable that came with the Elgato HD60 to the capture card and your laptop.

  6. After a few seconds, you should see your Nintendo Switch home screen within Game Capture HD.

    Nintendo Switch in Elgato Game Capture HD on Windows 10.

    If Elgato’s Game Capture HD software doesn't detect the Nintendo Switch, ensure the HDMI cable is plugged into the capture card’s In port and not the Out port. It should be on the same side as the USB cable.

  7. Select the fullscreen icon in the top-right corner of Game Capture HD. The program should fill the entire screen.

    Fullscreen icon in Game Capture HD
  8. Be careful not to touch your mouse or keyboard. The Nintendo Switch footage should automatically expand to fill the entire screen by itself. You can now play your Nintendo Switch games on your laptop just as you would on a TV.

    Nintendo Switch playing on a Windows 10 laptop screen.

    This same technique can be used for viewing media from any other device that has an HDMI cable, such as a Blu-ray player or Xbox One console.

About Capture Cards

You can use any capture card for this process as long as it has a USB-C connection and an HDMI In port. There are several great capture cards to choose from, but gamers generally consider Elgato cards best because of their affordability, build quality, and ease of use.

For these instructions, we use an Elgato HD60 HDMI capture card and the free Elgato Game Capture HD software. The capture card is available from Amazon, and the free software from the official Elgato website.

If you’re using another capture card to connect your Switch to your laptop, the steps should be almost identical. Similarly, most game capture software works in the same way, so if you have another program you prefer to use, you can use that instead of Game Capture HD.

This method does not apply to the Switch Lite.

Another Way to Play Nintendo Switch Games on Your Laptop

If you don’t have an HDMI capture card and can’t afford to buy one, a solid alternative is to play the PC versions of your favorite Nintendo Switch games on your laptop. Many Nintendo Switch controllers are also compatible with a laptop or desktop computer, so you won’t need to learn new controls.

With the exception of first-party franchises such as Super Mario, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon, many of the video games available on the Nintendo Switch are also available from the Microsoft Store app store on Windows 10, Epic Games, or Steam. Some popular online games, such as Minecraft and Fortnite, even support cross-save between devices. That means you can continue a game you started on your Nintendo Switch on your laptop, then carry all of that progress back over to your Switch when you’re ready.

If you buy console games for a PC on a regular basis and you have an Xbox One console, check out Xbox Play Anywhere titles. These let you buy the console and PC versions of the game for the price of a single game.

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