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9 tips and tricks to get started with the Nintendo Switch

Want to get the most out of your Switch? Read this.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo's Switch gaming system is incredibly popular, and rightfully so. It's portability combined with ease of use and docking station for playing games in HD on your TV set all make for a fun gaming console. 

If you recently got one over the holidays, here are some tips to help you get started with the Switch. 

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Add user accounts

nintendo-switch-user-accounts

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Don't want your roommate, friends or even kids messing up your game progress? Add user accounts to your Switch. Each account uses its own game progress and makes it easy to share the switch.

To add a new user, open System Settings > Users > Add User.

View activity feed

play-activity-nintendo-switch

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Curious as to how much time you've wasted — sorry — invested in a game? Each user's activity feed reveals just that. Tap on a user's profile avatar on the home screen, then select Profile.

Play Activity will show you games played, as well as the amount of time played.

Find your friend code

nintendo-switch-friend-code

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The same profile screen used in the last tip to access Play Activity is where you can find your friend code. This code, cumbersome as it is, is what a friend will need to add you to his or her friends list on the Switch.

Manage storage

delete-apps-nintendo-switch

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Storage on the Switch comes at a premium. Each unit has a standard 21.4 GB of room for games, apps and screenshots after the Switch operating system is installed. Thankfully, there's a microSD card slot on the back hidden just under the kickstand. Any storage amount will work up to 2TB, so if you find a good deal on, say, a 128GB card, snag it.

That said, you can manage your Switch's storage in System Settings > Data Management to help make room should you run out.

When viewing the software section, each highlighted game will show just how much space it is taking up on the right side of the screen -- along with the exact storage location (internal or microSD card). 

There you can archive a game to have your progress saved, but the game itself deleted from your device. You will need to re-download the game but shouldn't lose any progress. Alternatively, you can delete all data and the game to clear as much space as possible.

This is also the same settings section where you go to view and manage saved data along with screenshots and videos. 

Capture screenshots

On the left Joy-Con just below the direction pad, there's a square button with a circle in the middle of it. At any time you can press this button to capture a screenshot of a setting or gameplay for future reference in the Album on the Switch.

Record videos

Using the same screenshot button you can also record video clips of your gameplay. Instead of pressing the screenshot button, hold it in for a split second until an alert lets you know your Switch is capturing video.

As with standard screenshots, you can view and share videos from the Album app.

Find a lost controller

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The Joy-Con controllers are small and thus easily misplaced. They remind me a lot of the Apple TV ($179 at Walmart) remote that is lost in my household at least three times a week.

Unlike the elusive Apple TV remote, Nintendo has built in a find feature for Joy-Cons. On the home screen, select the Controllers icon followed by Find Controllers. A grid of nearby controllers will show up, prompting you to press the L or R button on one of the controllers to trigger the vibration feature of the lost controller.

A vibrating Joy-Con is surprisingly loud, even when it's between couch cushions.  

Create a Mii

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Mii's are still a thing on the Switch, although a bit hidden. You'll need to go into System Settings > Mii > Create/Edit a Mii.

From there, you can edit any current creations or add new Mii's to your collection. Mii's will then show up in compatible software, though I've yet to see my Mii show up anywhere.

Use the Switch Online App

Using the companion Switch Online App is a must for any Switch user. Not only does it enable chat with fellow players for games like Splatoon 2, but can help you keep track of your playing history as well.

Admittedly, having to install an app on your phone in order to use voice chat on the Switch is a bit weird, but it works… for now.

Android and iPhone versions are available.