How to Record on the Nintendo Switch

Two ways to record video on a Nintendo Switch

What to Know

  • Press and hold the capture button to record the last 30 seconds of gameplay.
  • Individual video recordings are limited to 30 seconds.
  • To record longer videos or stream them, you need a capture card.

This article explains how to screen record video on the Nintendo Switch, including the original Switch and Switch Lite.

How Does Screen Recording Work on Nintendo Switch?

The Switch's built-in video recorder works the same on both the original Switch and the Switch Lite. It allows you to record 30 seconds of gameplay, and it’s disabled when you aren’t in a game. To record longer videos, you need to use an external video capture device. Since the Switch Lite can’t output video via HDMI, that method only works with the original Switch.

How to Record Video On a Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite both include a capture button, which is a square button with a circular indent in the middle. The capture button has two functions: tap for a screenshot and hold for recording.

This method works on both the Switch and Switch Lite.

Here’s how to record a video on a Nintendo Switch:

  1. Load up a Switch game and play it.

    Launching a game from the Nintendo Switch home screen.
  2. When something happens you want to preserve, press and hold the capture button.

    A left joy-con with the screen capture button on the right highlighted
  3. A spinning saving icon will appear on the screen.

    The video record save icon on a Switch.
  4. When the capture is complete, a message will appear on the screen.

    The video successfully saved message on a Switch.

The Switch can only capture 30 seconds of gameplay using the built-in screen recorder. If you want a more extended recording, try taking several clips, transferring them to your computer, and splicing them together with video editing software. Nintendo may allow longer clips in the future.

How to View, Edit, and Share Nintendo Switch Video Clips

While the Nintendo Switch is quite limited in terms of video clip length, it does give you some options for editing and sharing clips once you’ve recorded them.

Here’s how to view, edit, and share your clips:

  1. From the Switch home screen, select Album.

    The album icon highlighted on the Nintendo Switch home screen.
  2. Select a video clip with the d-pad, and press A to open it.

    A video clip highlighted on the Switch.

    You can differentiate clips from screenshots as they all have "30s" in the thumbnail's lower right corner.

  3. While the video is playing, press A to access the options menu.

    A video clip playing on the Switch with A Sharing and Editing highlighted
  4. Select from the following options:

    • Post: Sends the video to social media. Requires linking a Twitter or Facebook account.
    • Send to Smartphone: Sends the video to your phone for easy sharing or transfer to a computer and uses a QR code for easy connectivity.
    • Trim: Edit the video for length if you only want to share part of it. Use the d-pad to select start and endpoints, then save the trimmed video.
    • Copy: Makes a copy of the video, so you can edit it without destroying the original.
    • Delete: Removes the video if you don’t want it anymore.
    Video clip options on the Switch.

How to Screen Record and Take Longer Videos on a Switch

Nintendo may increase the maximum length of video recordings in the future, but recording anything longer than 30 seconds requires external hardware. To screen record your Switch or take videos longer than 30 seconds, you need a standalone video capture device or a capture card connected to a computer.

This method only works with the original Nintendo Switch. The Switch Lite can't output video in any way, so there's no way to use an external video capture device with that version of the hardware.

Here’s how to screen record your Switch using a capture device:

  1. Connect your Switch to its Dock.

    Connecting a Nintendo Switch to the dock.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  2. Connect an HDMI cable to your dock if one isn't already connected.

    An HDMI cable connect to a Switch dock.
    Jeremy Laukkonen 
  3. Connect the output of the Dock to the HDMI input of your capture device.

    An HDMI cable connected to the input of a video capture device.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  4. Connect an HDMI cable to your monitor or TV.

    An HDMI cable connected to a display.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  5. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the HDMI output port on your capture device.

    Connecting to the HDMI out port on a video capture device.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  6. Connect the capture device to a computer, or insert your storage medium.

    Connecting a USB flash drive to a capture device.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  7. Launch the Switch game you want to record.

    Launching a Switch game with a controller.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  8. Activate the recording feature of your capture device.

    Activating the recording feature of a capture device.
    Jeremy Laukkonen

    While the built-in recording feature is disabled on the home screen and menus, you can record the home screen, menus, and some apps using this method.

  9. Continue playing your game.

    Capturing gameplay from a Nintendo Switch.
     Jeremy Laukkonen
  10. Your gameplay will be captured by your device or sent to your computer for recording or broadcast.

The Nintendo Switch and HDCP

The Nintendo Switch supports HDCP, but only when certain apps are active. That means you can use a video capture device with your Switch when navigating the menus and playing games, but not when using apps like Netflix and Hulu, which, for copyright reasons, require HDCP. If you start an app that requires HDCP, the Switch will output a blank screen to your screen recorder. The only way around HDCP is to use a device that strips HDCP between the Switch and your recording device.

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