How To Connect Switch And Switch Lite To A Laptop?

The Nintendo Switch and its more portable and, to a certain degree, lesser variant, the Switch Lite, are quite some of the most popular gaming consoles in the world today due to the wide variety of games and the all-around performance that these devices have. To that end, some people would want to connect their Switch consoles to their laptops in case they want to use a bigger screen. So, how do you connect the Nintendo Switch to a laptop?

You need to connect a docked Switch to a video capture card, which should be connected to your laptop, to use your Switch on your laptop. However, the Switch Lite can only be connected to a laptop directly to tinker with the files and not for playing because the Switch Lite does not support video output.

There is no doubt how popular the Nintendo Switch systems are in the world today because they very much fit the demands of most gamers. The fact that the Switch can be docked and used on a monitor or a TV is also one of the great things about it. That said, knowing how to connect it to a laptop will only make it more portable. And that is what we are here to show you.

Nintendo Switch Console

Can you connect Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite to a laptop?

Two of the most popular consoles the world has ever seen are the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite. The Nintendo Switch, since its release in 2017, has sold nearly 85 million units, including the Switch Lite, which has sold over 13 million worldwide. This makes the Switch console system the sixth-highest selling console of all time. But that number will continue to grow as the Switch is only becoming more popular day by day.

One of the things that make the Nintendo Switch popular is that it is quite portable. Both the Switch and the Switch Lite are handheld devices that you can basically carry anywhere wherever you go. This means that those who are in places other than their homes can actually play their Switch games as gaming has become quite mobile and portable nowadays due to how more and more people are always on the go. Being portable also means that the Switch will no longer require you to have a TV or a monitor just to play games.

However, one of the things that have also made the Nintendo Switch so unique is the very fact that it can be switched. Since 2017, the breakthrough tech that the Switch came with is how you can put it in “docked” mode, which essentially allows you to play using the system through your TV in the manner in which most videogame consoles are being played. This is where the “switch” name comes in as you can basically switch between handheld mode and docked mode depending on your preferences.

So, essentially, the fact that the Nintendo Switch can either become handheld or docked is what has made it so popular among different games in the world. Of course, you also have to consider that Nintendo has plenty of different games that appeal to wide audiences wherever you go. Still, the docking feature is what has made it so unique and special.

Nintendo Switch portable video games console

In that regard, people are beginning to wonder whether or not you can actually connect or dock your Nintendo Switch to a laptop. After all, being able to connect your Switch to a laptop will open new doors for you because this will only make the Nintendo Switch console a lot more portable than it already is. Imagine carrying your laptop and your switch so that you can play on a bigger screen wherever you go as opposed to simply sticking to handheld mode while you are on the go.

That said, is it possible for you to connect your Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite to a laptop? The bad news is that you cannot connect your Switch or Switch Lite to a laptop using the conventional method.

The reason here is that laptop monitors are not meant to receive videos from external sources and are only meant to output videos as opposed to inputting them. This means that they are unlike TVs and monitors in the sense that the Switch can easily output its video to TVs and monitors when it is docked and connected to them via HDMI.

But, in relation to the Switch that can be docked, we say that you cannot use the conventional method of connecting it to a laptop because there is actually a workaround that will allow you to connect it to a laptop but not in the direct conventional means that you do when you are connecting your Switch to your TV or monitor.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate news is that there is no way for you to connect your Switch Lite to a laptop’s screen because of the very fact that this system’s USB-C port only supports power and data transfer and does not support video output. As such, it is impossible (as of now) to connect a Switch Lite to any external monitor such as TVs or laptops even if you were to use the unconventional method. You can only connect your Switch Lite directly to a laptop if you were to charge it or transfer files.

How to connect Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite to a laptop?

So, when you want to connect your Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite to your laptop, here are the things you need to know:

Nintendo Switch

Gamer playing Fortnite game on Nintendo Switch

What you will be needing:

Nintendo Switch

  • Switch Dock
  • Laptop
  • HDMI cable (comes with the Switch)
  • Game capture card

Game capture cards are actually made for those who would want to stream their console games via their computers. So, essentially, the game capture card works by acting as a connector between your console and your PC as you only need to connect the console to the capture card so that the PC will be able to receive the video output from the capture card using a game capture software.

If you are looking for a good game capture card, the Elgato brand by Corsair is pretty much the most dominant name on the market today. You should get your hands on the Elgato HD60 S+, which is arguably the best available game capture card today. This product is available here.

  • Game capture card software

Depending on what brand of game capture card you have, you should be able to download its software from its website. So, if you have an Elgato game capture card, download its software on your laptop from the Elgato website.

Once you have those things ready, here are the things you need to do to connect the Switch to your laptop:

  1. Dock your Nintendo Switch by inserting it in the dock. Make sure that the dock is connected to a power source.
  2. Disconnect the HDMI cable that connects your dock to a TV or monitor.
  3. Plug the HDMI cable of your Switch dock into a game capture card to connect your Switch to it.
  4. On your laptop, open the game capture card software pertaining to the brand of your game capture card.
  5. Turn the docked Nintendo Switch, which should be connected to the game capture card.
  6. Connect the game capture card to your laptop via the USB cable. Newer game capture cards come with USB-C, which might require you to use a USB-A adapter if your laptop doesn’t come with USB-C.
  7. After connecting the game capture card to your laptop, you should be able to see your Nintendo Switch’s home screen on your laptop’s screen.

After doing the abovementioned steps, you should now be able to use your laptop as the main screen for your Nintendo Switch. Simply grab your Joy-Cons and you are now able to play your Switch games in the usual manner.

And the best part here is that you can also still use your laptop in the same normal way because you are only running your Switch through the Elgato software. That means that, if your laptop has enough memory, you can still do the usual things that you do with your laptop while your Switch is connected to it via the game capture card.

Meanwhile, if you just want to connect your Switch to your laptop for charging or for transferring files, you can simply connect the docked switch through a USB-A cable. However, if you are using the Switch undocked, you have to use a USB-C cable to connect the switch to your laptop. If your laptop doesn’t come with USB-C, use an adapter.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite

The sad news here is that it is impossible for you to use your laptop or any other screen for your Nintendo Switch Lite because this console doesn’t come with video output. Its USB-C was only made for power and data transfer. As such, you can only connect your Switch Lite to your laptop if you want to transfer data or charge your console through the laptop.

You can pretty much connect them in a straightforward manner. If you have a USB-C cable, attach one end to your Switch Lite and the other end to your laptop. And if your laptop doesn’t support USB-C, you would need an adapter.

How to connect Nintendo Switch to a laptop without a dock?

What if you don’t have a dock with you? After all, you would want to take advantage of your Nintendo Switch’s portability by not carrying a somewhat large dock around. So, is it possible for you to still connect your Nintendo Switch to your laptop without the dock that it came with when you bought it?

The good news is that, yes, the Nintendo Switch dock is not an indispensable requirement to connect your Switch to a laptop. Instead, you can make use of a USB-C-to-HDMI adapter that also acts as a dock. So, what the adapter basically does is that it is now the dock that will connect the Switch’s USB-C port to an HDMI port so that you can now output your Switch to a monitor or a TV. But make sure that you are using an adapter that also comes with another USB-C port so that you can charge your Nintendo Switch while keeping it docked.

So, once you have your adapter, the method of connecting your Nintendo Switch to your laptop is pretty much the same as connecting it with a dock. The only difference now is that you no longer have to dock the Switch but, instead, you have to connect it to the adapter. Meanwhile, the adapter should be connected to the game capture card via HDMI.

The best part of using this method is that it is much more portable because the adapter should be much smaller and lighter compared to the Switch’s proprietary dock. As such, you are able to game on the go without having to carry a large Switch dock.

How to connect Switch to laptop without a capture card?

We have talked about how important the game capture card is if you want to find a workaround that will allow you to connect your Nintendo Switch to your laptop. So, at this point, you should already know that using a game capture card is the only way for you to connect your Switch’s video output to your laptop. There is no other way for you to do so if you don’t have a game capture card you will need one.

The only way for you to connect your Switch to your laptop is when you are going to charge or transfer files. You can do so by simply connecting the two devices using USB-A or USB-C cables. However, if you want to transfer files from your Switch to your laptop or access your Switch’s internal storage, you would need to download a third-party app.

Going back to our point, there is no way for you to connect your Switch to your laptop if you don’t have a game capture card. This might not come as good news for a lot of people considering that game capture cards can be expensive and are just about as expensive as a Nintendo Switch Lite.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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