Is it possible to protect saved games of a particular user from being played by other users, while still allowing them to play all the games they normally can?

It doesn't have to be secure*, so a short PIN code would be fine, and if any non-trivial action is required to run games with a particular profile that's fine too. However, those non-trivial actions should not actually take long, or require an Internet connection.

A typical use case is when there's a party, and you want people who feel like it to enjoy a couple of games, but you don't want to spend time explaining to all guests, kids, guests' kids, etc. that you'd like to resume that Zelda adventure exactly where you have left it.

For those who don't own a Switch, this is how a profile selection screen looks like. Selecting a profile is a one click action which has to be done every time a new game is started.

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(*) - by "not secure" I mean a way that doesn't have to prevent a determined person from using my profile anyway. I mostly want to prevent people from picking it by accident, but a somewhat secure way would be even better.

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    I hate to admit it, but I sat here scratching my head for a bit wondering what you meant by "a short pin". It didn't occur to me until I began to read the comments on Ellesedil's answer that you were referring to a "PIN" (Personal Identification Number) rather than a "pin" (a small, round, thin piece of metal often used to hold fabric in place).
    – jmbpiano
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 0:16

5 Answers 5


Yes but this method would require having a Nintendo Online account.

First, make sure your current save is backed up to the cloud. Once that is done, disable cloud saves. At the end of the night, redownload the cloud save, confirming that you want to overwrite the existing save and then re-enable cloud saves again once complete.

I wouldn't call this method secure but it would allow you to maintain your save while giving people the chance to experience the game at whatever state you have it currently in.

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    I guess that's what I'll have to do. Essentially it's a backup that one can revert to. Not ideal, but good enough. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:22
  • Knowing how some cloud save systems can be 'clever/dumb' - Do you need to delete the save, before you put the console back into cloud backup mode? How do you make sure it doesn't just upload the latest save? Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:21
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    @djsmiley2k-CoW that would be the step were you re-download the existing cloud save prior to enabling cloud save again. That way there is no difference at that point between the local and cloud copies. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:24
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    Ah, you can download without enabling it? Nice. I was thinking you'd need to delete the existing (local) save, then enable the cloud saving for it to 'sync' back down. I don't have a switch so I can't test - I'm just aware that sometimes these things haven't been thought about by system designers! Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:28

When you say "It doesn't have to be secure..." just how un-secure are you willing to tolerate?

On my Switch, I have my profile attached to my Nintendo account with Nintendo Online. I then created two additional profiles for my kids. Starting a game will now prompt you to pick which user to play under and when they play, they play under their respective profiles and have their own saves under those profiles, while having access to my games. So, if you're willing to have a barrier as simple as picking a user whenever you launch a game, then you're golden.

However, there is a drawback. Since only my account is tied to an online Nintendo account and only my account has a Nintendo Online subscription, only my account can connect to online servers. While this is fine for games like BotW, Mario Kart, and Pokemon, this won't work too well for other online games. To circumvent this, you'll need to attach a Nintendo account to each of the profiles you create, and then upgrade your Nintendo Online subscription to a family plan. At that point, every profile should then have the same gameplay experience for every game.

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    Being able set a PIN for certain users on that choice screen would be wonderful. Would also make parental controls (which are currently per-device) work better.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 15:52
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    I made a "Guest" account for exactly this purpose, with a generic Mii wearing Groucho Marx glasses. People can usually tell what it's for and use that if they want to try a game.
    – Milo P
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 17:15
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    I also have several profiles (and I get a few more after every party with guests), but especially kids will ignore any profile named "Guest" and will pick one at random. If I could exclude my profile from a list which shows up when a new game starts, that would be OK, but simply having several profiles to chose from is not enough. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:26

I do not own a Switch and I am not an expert but after some internet digging it seems that it's possible to sign up for another Nintendo account and use that account when your guests want to play games.

You might even be able to simply sign out but I don't know if that will prevent people from saving their progress.

My answer is based on:

Yes, if you mean the profiles on the top left they will get their separate save files no matter what account bought the game. So let’s say you have one account connected to the e-shop. You can buy e-shop games from that account and all users will be able to play the game. For cartridge games it’s the same, all users will get their own save file.


  • I go back and forth from upvoting this answer, and extending this answer. There's some details and gotchas missing from this, I think, mainly because Nintendo kind of sucks when it comes to designing and building software that are not specifically video games.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 18:47
  • @Ellesedil I wholeheartedly welcome an extension to my answer.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 19:13
  • This is what I already do. The problem is that someone who uses a Switch for the first time has no idea what those things are for and will just click though the profile selection, so they will end up using the last used profile. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:17
  • @DmitryGrigoryev I am not familiar with the intricacies of profile versus Nintendo account but could you just plan ahead and make sure the guest profile is the "last used profile"? What happens if you log out of the Nintendo account? Does that make the profile unavailable?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:23
  • Oh, and you can't really sing out from a profile, those are local entities and they have no passwords AFAIK. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:30

One way to avoid people accidentally playing the game would be to open ~15 other games/applications so that the are the only ones easily visible on the selection screen (if the game is on cartridge you can also remove the cartridge to avoid it automatically going back to the front of the list when the switch restarts) however this wouldn’t work if you wanted the guests to be able to play the game as well.

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    True. Zelda BotW will inevitably make it back to the top of the list. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 21:27

The only way to really secure you’re games without using online saves or stuff like that is to just get your family (or others) to use their own account.

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