The currently most popular portable console on the planet, Nintendo’s Switch, isn’t natively compatible with virtual private networks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t connect your Switch to a VPN; it’s just that the process will be slightly more complicated than your regular VPN setup.
Nintendo Switch Router VPN setup
Depending on the make and model of your router, you may be able to use it to set up a Nintendo Switch VPN connection directly. Linksys, ASUS, and TP-Link all provide such devices, though they’re far from the only manufacturers to do so.
More specifically, you’re looking for a router with OpenVPN or PPTP support seeing how those tunneling protocols will work much better with the Switch (read: you’ll get better speeds).
Configuring compatible routers for Nintendo’s handheld is as simple as navigating to their settings via a mobile or desktop browser and inputting the login and configuration details issued by your VPN provider.
Nintendo Switch VPN setup using a wireless Windows PC connection
Beyond that, arguably the most convenient way to have your Switch connected to a VPN is establishing a wireless link, which is possible thanks to an excellent hotfix devised by one stubborn Reddit user going by “TheSecondSam”. For this method to work, you’ll need a Windows 10 computer wirelessly connected to a virtual private network of your choice.
Go to Settings > Network & Internet > VPN and set up a connection using Windows 10’s built-in VPN client. Restart your computer, go back to the same Settings section, and select the Mobile Hotspot option in the left sidebar, inputting your login details before enabling it.
You’ll now want to click the Change Adapter Options command under Ethernet, right-click the newly established VPN connection on the following interface, and select Properties. Cycle through tabs until you hit Sharing and make sure the Allow Other Network Users to Connect checkbox is ticked. Finally, select your Wi-Fi connection in the drop-down menu right below. On the off chance you’re not sure what you’re looking for, try the Local Area Connection.
All that’s left to do is go to your Nintendo Switch and manually connect to the said wireless hotspot.
Nintendo Switch VPN setup using a Mac
Mac users should have it slightly easier than their peers on Windows; the only trick in getting a Nintendo Switch connected to a VPN configured on a Mac is making sure the console connects to the local wireless network before the actual VPN is enabled as the device otherwise has trouble with finding the required IP address.
Once it’s connected, turn on your VPN via a Mac client and share it with your hotspot. The Switch should, true to its name, automatically switch to the newly established VPN node after that’s done.
Note that this technique may also work with a Windows client but we’ve had issues with leveraging it consistently.
Nintendo Switch Smart DNS setup
If your VPN provider offers a Smart DNS service, you’re also able to take advantage of this alternative content unblocking technique on your Nintendo Switch. Merely go to the Internet Settings of the console, select your desired connection point, and then go to Change Settings > DNS Settings > Manual.
Enter your Primary and Secondary DNS addresses provided by the service you’re using and that’s it.
On VPNs, Dragon Quest X, and other region-locked Switch games
Nintendo has been a fan and enabler of the unpopular practice of region-locking games and gaming hardware since the DSi handheld’s release way back in 2008. Over the years, many owners of Nintendo-made consoles found themselves unable to play long-sought foreign games even after importing them.
The controversial content limitation policy was fortunately mostly dropped after the Switch debuted in 2017. Naturally, that’s still not stopping some developers and publishers from region-locking their titles for Nintendo’s newest handheld, but those are few and far between.
Regardless, if you have the misfortune of stumbling upon such a game, you may see claims that a VPN can reliably bypass its regional lock. That’s a… long shot, to put it mildly.
By far the most popular Switch game unavailable in large parts of the world is Dragon Quest X, but while you can get the MMORPG to run on a Switch unit it’s not supposed to be by connecting the portable device to a VPN, don’t expect a gaming experience that’s anything else but annoyingly infuriating.
“How to set up a VPN on Nintendo Switch” was written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.