Nintendo Switch Setup – In 8 Simple Steps!

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So, you’ve just bought yourself a Nintendo Switch, eh?

Congratulations! You’re embarking on a wonderful journey of playing games on demand, anywhere, at any time.

I can assure you, your gaming experience truly will never be the same, and you likely won’t be able to picture life without your Switch.

And if you’re just strolling by to see how the Switch setup process is, we’ve got you covered too! The entire process is done in just 8 simple steps!

Disclaimer: These steps are made by Nintendo, not me, and all images below are likewise Nintendo’s.

Read on to see just how easy it is to get a new Nintendo Switch up and running!

Step 1: Language

The very first step of the setup process is an easy one. You’ll simply have to pick your preferred language.

The Nintendo Switch System Language select screen.

I’m not the most linguistic person around, but it looks like the list of languages are:

  • English
  • French
  • Dutch
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Netherlands
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Chinese (Simplified), and
  • Korean

Simply pick the language you know best, and proceed to Step 2!

Step 2: Region

This is another relatively painless step. All you have to do here is pick the region you reside in.

Nintendo Switch Region Select

I don’t know if it differs overseas, but the choices here are:

  • The Americas
  • Europe
  • Australia / New Zealand
  • Japan, and
  • Hong Kong / Taiwan / South Korea

Unlike most other systems and handhelds, the Nintendo Switch’s games are region-free, so I’m not too sure what the importance of setting a region is, especially since step 1 and step 5 don’t seem to depend on any particular setting here.

My best guess would be that this determines which regional Nintendo News channel your System is set to follow (i.e., Nintendo of America, Nintendo Europe, Nintendo Japan, etc…), and shows you news for that particular region.

Edit: Having read Nintendo’s regional compatibility FAQ, it looks like the region setting applies for the Switch eShop, which will determine what is available to purchase online, and what DLC is compatible with what game’s region.

For simplicity’s sake, pick your native region, and move along to step 3!

Step 3: End User License Agreement

The Switch's EULA screen.

Step 3 honestly might be amongst the most lengthy of the steps to go through, and that honestly depends on if you fully read the EULA.

I’m no legal expert, but the End User License Agreement is considered to be legally binding, at least in the United States. I’d recommend reading it over before ticking the box to accept and proceed onwards.

When you’re ready, you can head on over to the next step, which can be skipped entirely, if needed.

Step 4: Internet Settings (Optional)

The Nintendo Switch searching for wireless networks.

Another quick step, and honestly pretty painless.

Unlike the days of the DS, where you had to switch your Wi-Fi setting to a weird string of letters and numbers to play online, or being bombarded with options on how you want to connect, the Switch makes it easy, and searches for all access points within range.

After your Switch searches for Wi-Fi networks, you’ll then need to select your access point, and enter your network password. Within a few seconds, you should be able to connect almost immediately to your wireless network. The Switch can connect to both 2.4 and 5.0 network connections, too, so pick whichever you prefer!

Don’t have a wireless network of your own, or you’re currently out and about? No worries there, as this step is completely optional, and can be done later on.

You’ll have to wait for your Switch to search for any nearby networks, and once you see a list of nearby access points, you can press the “X” button to skip to step 5.

Speaking of…

Step 5: Time Zone

Picking a Time Zone on the Nintendo Switch.

Ah, time zones… it’s about time!

This section is fairly straightforward, too. You’ll just have to pick whatever time zone you’re currently in, and you’ll either move on to step 6 (if setting up in handheld mode,) or step 7 (If setting up in docked mode).

The system is smart enough to know which “mode” you’ve started setup in, and adjusts the steps accordingly.

Don’t know your current time zone? It happens to the best of us. You can find out by searching “What is my Time Zone?“, (Bing search) or, visit https://whatismytimezone.com, to find out. You can also use a Time Zone Map, of course, but details…

Once you’ve gotten your “+/- GMT” or “+/- UTC” value, you’ll then need to scroll through the Time Zone list for the nearest major city/country, and use that for your time zone.

The next steps here depend on which mode your Switch was in when you started the setup process.

Step 6: (Handheld Only) – Connecting to a TV

A TV Setup screen on the Switch.

This step is arguably the longest, and is all about getting you acquainted with the multiple “modes” and ways to play with your Nintendo Switch system.

At the start of this step, you’ll be prompted to detach the two Joy-Con controllers from your Switch.

An on-screen prompt showing users how to detach the Joy-Con from the Switch.

Switch Lite owners, DO NOT attempt to detach your controllers. The controllers on Switch Lite units are built-in to the system, and trying to detach them will damage the system.

For the original Switch system owners, at the back of each and every Joy-Con is a small release button, near the trigger buttons. You’ll have to press and hold the button, and then slide both controllers out. The system will not proceed into setup until this is done.

Once that has been done, you’ll then be asked if you want to connect your Switch to a TV, which can be skipped altogether.

If you choose the option to connect to a TV, you’ll then be walked through an easy to follow set of screens, ending with a clear drawing of how to connect your cords to the back of your Switch Dock, and then connecting the Dock to the TV.

A depiction of a properly connected Switch Dock.

If you choose to connect to a TV later, the console will then show you that you can play it handheld, or open the built-in Kickstand to play on “tabletop mode”.

Regardless of choice, you’ll then move on to step 7, a more fun step.

Step 7: Users

Step 7: Adding a user profile to the Switch.

Step 7 is all about creating Users for your new Switch system.

If you’ve been setting up your console while docked, you’ll skip step 6 entirely and end up here.

Users are an important feature of your Nintendo Switch, allowing up to 8 users to be registered at once. Each user will have their own save data and icons, and can have individual Nintendo Accounts.

You’ll be given two choices for how you want to add a user. You can make a completely new user, on the spot, which you’ll almost certainly have to do regardless, or, Import User Data from Another Console, which requires two Switch systems, and probably a System Update, if your Switch is bought brand new.

A fact worth noting: if a Switch is going through the setup process, it will not be able to perform a system update. This means that you will not be able to import user data from a different console until AFTER you set up your Switch. Which is why you’ll almost certainly need to make a new user regularly.

A Random assortment of pre-made user profiles.

So, once you begin making a new user manually, you’ll be given a quick assortment of 12 user icons to choose from.

If you aren’t entirely happy with the preset options, you can select “More Options” and pick a Character/Mii of choice, as well as a solid colored Background.

A few character icons that can be used for an individual user.

For the characters, you’ll be presented with a wide array of Nintendo’s best to choose from. All of the icons are sorted by series, so you’ll have to scroll past the Mario and Yoshi series of icons if you wanted to pick from, say… the Zelda series.

Once you’ve picked a character of choice, you’ll then move to background colors, where you’ll see about 4-6 shades per color. Pick whichever color you like, and after confirming your choice, you’ll be able to enter a nickname for your User.

Two things are worth noting here. The first is that the nickname can only be 10 characters long. The second, is that your nickname will be visible to others if you play a game online.

While you may be tempted to use a personal name or nickname here, I’d recommend using something like you would on Playstation or Xbox. Don’t fret if you don’t have something now, as you can always start with a personal name, and come back later to re-name your User.

When you confirm your nickname, you’ll then be prompted to make a Nintendo Account, which also requires an up-to-date firmware to do. So you may have to set this up later.

A completed user profile setup.

Once that’s been done, congrats! You’ve successfully set up a User profile! I’d advise you to make a guest profile as well, (even if this is your personal Switch), to ensure nobody accidentally erases your save data in, say… Breath of the Wild.

You’ll also see a brief prompt about Nintendo Switch Online, which I’ll cover below.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo's overview of Nintendo Switch Online - A paid membership service.

Here, you’ll be introduced to Nintendo’s eponymous paid online service, Nintendo Switch Online. This screen doesn’t connect directly to the eShop, and is more of an informative blurb than an advertisement.

If you’re returning from the Wii, DS/3DS, or Wii U, you may be surprised to find out that the Switch no longer offers free online multiplayer. This has instead been switched to a paid service, Nintendo Switch Online, which I previously covered back in 2018.

Fortunately, the service does encompass more than just multiplayer, and it’s cheaper than Sony’s and Xbox’s memberships to boot!

With a paid membership, you’ll be able to back up data with cloud saves, play through an ever-growing library of NES and SNES games, and voice chat with others through the Nintendo Switch Online Smartphone App!

You don’t have to join immediately, and there’s not an option to. For now, just let the idea sink in, as you near the end of the setup process!

Step 8: Parental Controls (Optional)

The last step of the Switch setup process.

The final (optional) step is to set up Parental Controls on your Switch System.

The biggest issue to note here, is that parental controls don’t affect a single user, but the entire Switch itself. Because of that, you’ll probably want to skip this step entirely, unless you’ve bought a Switch solely for a child.

You’ll also have to download a separate app, too: The Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App.

I didn’t go too deep in this setup step to know firsthand how it works, but reportedly, this step would also require internet access, so it would have to be done outside of your initial setup.

Common Sense Media has written on how to configure parental controls, so I’d recommend reading more on the subject there.

The Switch Setup is complete!

Once this step has been completed, you’re done with the initial setup! Press the home button on the right joy-con, and enjoy your Switch!

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