If you’re reading, chances are you already own the Nintendo Switch ($299) or are thinking of picking one up.
As you likely know, Nintendo Switch is a unique hybrid console that’s both a portable gaming system, like a Nintendo 3DS, as well as a home console, which snaps into a docking station (included) to connect to your television.
There are several exclusive games for the platform — including best-sellers like “Super Mario Odyssey,” “Diablo 3: Eternal Collection,” “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle,” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” – which you can buy in cartridge form or download digitally from the Nintendo eShop online store. Underneath the console’s kickstand on the back, you can snap in a microSD memory card to store more downloaded content, should the 32GB of internal storage not be enough for you.
But you already knew all this, you say? No worries. There’s a lot more to Nintendo Switch you likely weren’t aware of.
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Here are 10 such tidbits – features, tips and tricks – to getting the most out of your console.
Watch all your movies
There’s now a YouTube app for Nintendo Switch, but that’s just the beginning.
With a free service called MoviesAnywhere, you can link up all your accounts – including Amazon Prime, iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow, Xfinity, and Vudu – and then by linking your MoviesAnywhere account to Google Play, all your flicks will show up under “Purchases” on YouTube.
And since you have access to YouTube on your Nintendo Switch, you’re good to watch all your purchased movies on your console!
Download video games from any eShop
Nintendo Switch is “region-free,” meaning you can play games from other countries. For example, you can download some cool Japanese games you won’t find at retail in the U.S., nor will you see it appear at the Nintendo eShop.
With Japan as an example, simply go to my.nintendo.com/getting_started in a web browser to create a new account and be sure to select Japan as your country. To register, use a different email address than the one tied to your U.S. account. Once this is done, create a new profile on your Nintendo Switch and call it something like Japan, and tie this profile to that new account you created online. Once you open the Nintendo eShop tied to that profile – voila! — you can download Japanese titles (some available with English subtitles).
Have your Switch charge your phone
Here’s something you may not know: If your smartphone’s battery is waning and you have your Nintendo Switch with you, you can give your smartphone a battery boost!
Simply connect your smartphone to the Nintendo Switch’s USB-C port underneath the unit, using a compatible cable, and it works right away. As an Android user, I had a USB-C to USB-C cable already, or you can use a full-size USB adaptor (usually found in the box with many of today’s Android phones) or for iPhone users, pick up a Lightning-to-USB-C cable at your local dollar store.
Find lost Joy-Con controllers
Joy-Con controllers often are removed from the sides of the Nintendo Switch, especially when playing a multiplayer game on the same console. But those controllers are small, which means you could forget where you put it down (Hint: check between the sofa cushions!).
Still can’t find it? Misplaced Joy-Con controllers can be found by selecting the “Find Controllers” option on the Nintendo Switch menu. The Joy-Con will vibrate, making it easier to locate them.
Use Joy-Cons with your PC
Speaking of Joy-Cons, those little controllers for your Nintendo Switch are Bluetooth-based, so you can use them to play PC games, too.
Simply go to your Windows laptop or desktop’s settings and select “Bluetooth and other devices” (or type “Bluetooth” in the search bar at the bottom of the screen) and then choose “Add Bluetooth or other device.” Now press the small sync buttons on the Joy-Con controllers to pair with your PC.
Similarly, on a Mac, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, then click Bluetooth to search for nearby devices.
“Easter egg” sound effects
To wake up the Nintendo Switch from sleep, you’ll be asked to press a button three times (usually people press the A button). Why three times? This is to prevent you accidentally waking up your console when it’s in, say, a backpack, and unnecessarily wasting its battery.
But if you press in on the analog sticks, you’ll hear some funny Nintendo-esque sound effects instead. (Nintendo GameCube owners may recall a similar Easter Egg with that console.)
Speaking of audio, it’s really a shame Nintendo Switch doesn’t support wireless Bluetooth headphones, so you may see your headphone cable dangle in front of the screen during gameplay – unless you tuck it behind the system’s kickstand.
Choose ‘Archive’ over ‘Delete’
Running out of storage and want to delete some games? Or perhaps you’re bored with a game.
Rather than fully “Delete” the games, choose to “Archive” them. Why? It still deletes the game from your library, but it retains your game saves – just in case you decide to re-install it in the future and continue where you left off.
Use a keyboard
Like to do a lot of typing? Maybe you’re playing a game that requires you to input plenty of text?
When your Nintendo Switch is docked, you can plug a keyboard into the USB port on the back of the dock and it should work right away.
Alternatively, you can try plugging in a pair of USB headphones, or other accessories to see if it’s supported.
Parental controls … on an app
Like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, you can manage what (and how long) your kids are playing, but you’ll do it through a free Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app on your mobile device.
Available for iOS and Android, you’ll first sign into the app with the same Nintendo Account that’s on the Nintendo Switch (you’ll need to know the log-in name or email address and the password).
The first choice you’ll have is to set the daily limit on play time. You can choose one or two hours, for example, less or more, or no limits at all.
Secondly, you can set the restriction level on the app. This will restrict gameplay and other features as appropriate for your family’s Nintendo Switch console. You can choose no restriction, select the age (Child, Pre-Teen, or Teen) and select what you’d like to restrict, such as games and other software, posting screenshots or videos to social media, or communicating with others over the Nintendo Switch.
The app also lets you see the amount of play time for the system.
There’s nothing worse than your portable gaming console conking out before you do. Nintendo Switch has a decent battery, providing between 2.5 and 6 hours of gameplay, but there some steps you can take to extend it.
For one, press and hold the Home button and adjust the brightness so it’s not near full (on by default). You should turn on Airplane Mode from this screen, too, to preserve battery life. When you’re not going to play for a while, from this same screen you can select Sleep Mode.
Also, did you know you can tap the battery icon on the screen, and it will show you percentage left (such as 64 percent)? Neat, huh?
The Joy-Con controllers last about 20 hours between charges, and they’ll power up when connected to the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo’s popular crossover fighting game is finally coming to the Switch on December 7 with ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.’
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him at www.marcsaltzman.com
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