Pokémon Home is a new cloud-based storage service available as an app for Android and iOS phones and tablets, as well as the Nintendo Switch. One of its most alluring features is that it allows you to keep your pokédex handy wherever you might be — for a fee. Better yet, it allows you to form a unified pokédex, pulling in the pokémon you’ve caught in previous games so you can deploy them in, say, Pokémon Sword or Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! (Pokémon Go support is still in development for the Home app.)

Given that Pokémon games span so many years and various console platforms, getting all of your pokémon into Pokémon Home involves more steps the longer your journey dates back — less if you’ve only gotten started with the recent Pokémon titles on the Switch. Here’s how to go about it.

We’ll start with the more involved process of migrating from older 3DS and DS games to Home. There are several steps involved, and while they are actually simple, there are a lot of crossed wires to untangle along the way.

Image: Nintendo / Game Freak

Upload your 3DS / DS collection to Pokémon Bank

If you have a pokédex stored on games made for the Nintendo DS or 3DS systems, you can’t jump straight to uploading on Pokémon Home. You’ll first need to route your collection through Pokémon Bank, an older cloud-based service.

Your first step should be to open the eShop app and download Pokémon Bank. Depending on the game from which you’re trying to transfer pocket monsters, you might also need to download Poké Transporter, which is accessible from within the Bank app on 3DS.

As for why certain games require a separate app, it likely comes down to newer games being built with the ability to interface directly with Pokémon Bank, while the others need the Poké Transporter to handle the data transfer for them. The technical details are less important than the fact that these apps do what they claim to: help you get your pokémon to the Bank, making them visible to Pokémon Home.

  • Games that interface directly with Pokémon Bank: Pokémon Ultra Sun, Ultra Moon, Sun, Moon, X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire
  • Games that require Poké Transporter to transfer to Bank: Virtual Console releases of Pokémon Blue, Red, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Pokémon White, Black, White 2, and Black 2.

To see exactly how to get your pokémon into the Bank, take a deep breath, then look at this not-at-all-confusing flow chart made by The Pokémon Company.

The boxes are color-coded to indicate which games work with Bank (orange) and Transporter (black).
Image: The Pokémon Company

As indicated by the directional arrows in the chart, some games allow for deposits and withdrawals of pokémon, while others only support one-way transfers. Keep that in mind when you’re moving things around.

To transfer your pokémon, open up the 3DS apps that work with your game. If you’re transferring from a physical cartridge, you’ll need to insert it for the app to detect the game (and the pokémon you’ve caught within it). Otherwise, games that you have installed on your 3DS system will automatically be detected by the apps.

The steps that follow to transfer pokémon from your games to the Pokémon Bank are straightforward and you shouldn’t encounter any problems.

Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

If you’re feeling ambitious, Polygon put together a guide on moving pokémon from earlier DS games that aren’t directly supported by Bank. If you want to go even further back (I’m talking Game Boy Advance), the guide also shows that it’s possible to modernize your old pokémon if you follow the arduous steps.

Link your Pokémon Bank with Pokémon Home

Once you’re finished with the transfer, you’ll need to link your Pokémon Bank account on 3DS to your phone, Nintendo Switch, or whichever device you have the Home app installed on. I used the Home app on my Android phone, but this process is similar on the Switch.

  • First off, ensure that your Nintendo Account is linked to the Home app. It asks you to do that when you first run it, but you can link it manually in the settings by tapping the menu button on the bottom of the screen. Since you need to link your account on the Switch before you can download apps from the eShop, you’ll already be linked if you’re using the Switch app.
  • Then select “Options” on the next screen if you’re using the mobile app.

  • While you’re still on the Options screen, you’ll need to convert to being a paying customer to link your Bank to Home. The minimum is a $2.99 monthly fee to keep the service running.
  • You don’t have to keep paying once you’ve finished the transfer, but keeping your subscription active will give you more space to save pokémon and give you access to the other perks (seen below).

  • After you subscribe, open Pokémon Bank on your 3DS. Tap the “Move Pokémon to Pokémon Home” button on the main menu.
  • If you have the Home app installed on a phone or tablet, click “Move Pokémon” in the Options menu. On the Switch, click the 3DS symbol on the main screen.

  • In the Home app, you’ll be presented with a Moving Key that you have to input on your 3DS to initiate the transfer.

  • If you just wanted to have your pokémon available in the app, you’re all done. But if you want to get the most out of having a unified pokédex, you should know that the mobile app and Nintendo Switch versions of the app are different in a few important ways, as detailed below.

How to move pokémon between Switch games

You may have noticed in the image above that only the Nintendo Switch version of the Pokémon Home app lets you move your pocket monsters between games. And you better believe that Nintendo has yet another chart explaining how that currently works.

Here’s a quick breakdown: your pokémon from Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! can be deposited into Pokémon Home (but not withdrawn). Once your pokémon are loaded into the Home app, others can be deposited and withdrawn to and from the latest Switch games, Pokémon Sword and Shield.

If you want to explore more of what you can do with your newly unified pokédex in Pokémon Home, check out Polygon’s extension guide on the app’s features.

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