If you want to play your Nintendo Switch games on a PC, you will either need to connect your Switch to your PC via HDMI or another cable, play cross-platform titles, or use an emulator.
I have been a huge Nintendo Switch fan and owner for years, and while playing in handheld mode has its place, there is something great about playing on a large and crisp screen. It lets you see more details of the game and can simply provide a better experience at times.
Unfortunately, it isn’t immediately obvious how to go about playing your Switch games on a PC. This guide is going to take you through some of the options you have.
- Hook up your Switch to your PC via HDMI, DVI, or another cable choice.
- Play titles that are cross-platform and easily able to be played/downloaded on other devices than the Switch.
- Use an emulator, but do so carefully.
1. Connect Your Switch to Your PC Via HDMI
The first option, and one that people will find the easiest, is to simply hook up your Nintendo Switch to your PC via the HDMI port. Just like with a TV, you can easily hook your Switch up to your monitor in seconds.
This allows you to play your Switch at your PC setup, and take advantage of the great graphics that your PC monitor has to offer. If you don’t have an HDMI port, other cables like DVI can also get the job done.
No matter what cable you are using, simply plug one side of it into your Switch dock, and the other into the monitor. Then, simply put your monitor into HDMI mode and you should be able to see and begin playing your games immediately.
In some cases, you can even use a USB-C adapter to plug the console directly into your monitor without the dock. Of course, this option requires that you actually own a Nintendo Switch and simply want to play it on a better screen or a more comfortable place.
2. Consider Cross-Platform Switch Titles
While Nintendo Switch does have some great exclusive games, some of their best are also available to be played on other platforms. For example, games like Minecraft, Fortnite, Rocket League, and Skyrim, all can be played on Switch and PC, as well as other consoles.
If you want to play these Switch games on your PC, you can simply buy/download them for your PC, and begin playing them (often for free). Many will even perform better than the Switch version due to the better specs in most PCs compared to the Switch.
Best of all, many of these games are also cross-save and cross-progression, so if you ever decide to get a Switch, you may not need to start your progress from scratch.
3. Use an Emulator
If you don’t actually own a Nintendo Switch, and want to play titles that aren’t cross-platform, you may want to consider the use of an emulator. An emulator is simply a program that allows one computer system to behave and act like another.
Playing an emulator on your PC will essentially simulate the experience of playing a Switch game, even if you don’t have the Switch hardware itself. There are many Switch emulators available, but some are not reliable/will provide a subpar performance, so do your research.
Also, there is the common question of legality when it comes to emulators. While downloading and using an emulator isn’t inherently illegal, you need to be very careful about the things you download and share.
Sharing copyrighted ROMs (aka game files) is illegal and is highly frowned upon in the gaming industry, so always be careful and avoid participating in illegal activity.
Here are a few common questions about how to go about playing Nintendo Switch games on a PC.
How do I play Switch games on my laptop?
If your laptop has an HDMI/DVI port, then you can simply connect the switch dock to the laptop in the same way you would to a monitor. But if you have a laptop that doesn’t have an HDMI or similar cable, you will instead need to use a capture card.
This capture card will be plugged into one of the USB ports in your laptop, and then the HDMI cable from the switch can be plugged into the capture card, allowing you to easily play your Switch on PC, and capture/share the footage if you so choose.
Can I connect my Joy-Cons to my PC?
The Joy-Con controllers are one of the most unique parts of the Nintendo Switch. If you want to connect these Joy-Cons to your PC, the process is thankfully quite simple and quick.
You need to go to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and make sure that the toggle is on (not off like in the screenshot below). Then, click Add Bluetooth or other device, and then press the sync button on your Joy-Con until the lights flash, then click the Joy-Con when it appears in the devices menu.
As you can see, there are a couple of different methods for those looking to play Nintendo Switch games on their PC. Each of them is quite simple and should have you playing your favorite games in no time at all.
Are there other methods that you would have liked to see us mention or explain? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!