|First release date|| Windows September 12, 2003|
OS X May 12, 2010
Linux February 14, 2013
- Digital distribution platform launched by Valve Corporation in 2003 which supports Windows, OS X and Linux.
- DRM: Steam client required. Some games have extra DRM; refer to The Big List of 3rd Party DRM on Steam.
- Some games sold through retail and other digital distribution services activate on Steam; see Retail / Digital CD Keys.
- Refund policy: no refunds after a game's release date or Early Access start date.
- The Big List of 3rd Party DRM on Steam
- Steam Subreddit - a good place to discuss Steam issues.
- ValveTime - Valve news and discussion site.
- SteamDB - all information about games, sales, and even not yet released games. Updates instantaneously.
- 1 Big Picture
- 2 Family Sharing
- 3 Steam Trading Cards
- 4 Other tips
- 5 Windows
- 5.1 Unable to log in
- 5.2 Steam Won't Launch
- 5.3 Game Won't Launch
- 5.4 Moving Steam Files
- 5.5 Failed To Find Steam
- 5.6 Steam Offline Mode
- 5.7 Steam lowers volume of background Metro apps (Windows 8 only)
- 6 OS X
- 7 Linux
- 8 References
- See PC gaming on a TV and couch for general setup information.
- Big Picture Mode is a new interface which allows using Steam with a controller.
- Big Picture Mode requires Windows Vista or newer or OS X 10.7 (Lion) or newer; earlier versions are not supported.
Launch Big Picture Mode • Link
Taskbar showing on top
- This is caused by the incompatibility with DPI scaling in Windows.
Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Settings • Link
Speed up Big Picture web browser
- Steam Big Picture web browser can be slow.
Uncheck Automatically Detect Proxy Settings • Link
1) Change this setting in Windows to speed up the web browser in the big picture mode in Steam.
2) If this causes some problems in other programs, one should change the setting back.
Adjust font size DPI
- Steam does not always respect the Windows dpi settings. This hack adjusts Steam's DPI.
- Appears to work if the Windows DPI settings are also adjusted above 100% size.
- Steam Family Sharing is a new feature (currently in beta) that allows Steam users to share games.
- Each player gets their own achievements, saves, etc.
- The owner can't play any game without kicking the borrower (after a grace period).
- Some games are not available for sharing, e.g. those with third-party DRM; refer to The Big List of 3rd Party DRM on Steam for details.
Steam Trading Cards
Steam Trading Cards were added on May 15, 2013 in a closed beta. After playing certain games for a random amount of time, you'll earn a card. You can only earn up to half the cards a game has to offer, afterwards you'll be forced to trade or purchase cards in order to earn the full set. Once you have the full set you can craft them into a badge. This badge will also get you a random coupon for an item in the Steam store, as well as an emoticon for chat. For supported games, see Games with Steam Trading Cards support.
Resume Download Whilst Playing Game
Most Steam games will pause all downloads in progress, even if the game running is single player and has no need to access the internet bandwidth.
This can be fixed by checking "Allow Steam to download other updates while this game is running" in the properties of a game before starting it. Another method is to minimize the game and manually resume the download.
If you want to allow all Steam games to download updates while a Steam game is running:
Globally enable downloads during gameplay • Link
Disable Advertising Popups
By default, Steam will periodically display popups of new games and announcements. This can be disabled by going to
View > Settings > Interface > Notify me about additions.
Change game language
Change game localization • Link
Disable Automatic Game Updates
- Steam automatically updates games when new patches are released by default. It may be useful to disable this (only possible on an individual game basis) to avoid modded files to be overridden by periodical integrity scans
Disable auto updating • Link
Optimizing Steam's GCF Files and Batch Maintenance
- No longer valid as after conversion to ACF file format in 2012.
Steam's Game Properties offers an interface to validate and physically and internally de-fragment the game's GCF files if it has them, however Steam itself uses 2 GCF files but does not provide a way to do this, and there is a lot of time, prompting, and UI lockout between tasks. GCFScape has some batch mode utilities to handle this.
Get Nem's GCFScape. Once downloaded and installed, shutdown Steam*. Go to GCFScape's Tools menu -> Batch -> Defragment. Navigate to the Steam App Cache in
C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\ or
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\
Select as many GCF Files as you want to batch de-fragment. If you decide to do all the files, this could take a long time! Consider making it an overnight task. If you just want to de-fragment the two unreachable files used by Steam, they are
- Shutting down Steam is optional, however
sourceinit.gcf, the two files Steam uses, are locked while Steam is running. Steam can run while performing maintenance on the other GCF files, but it may cause problems if there is an update while the files are being worked on.
GCFScape also provides batch validation, but does not have the repair facility that Steam has when it detects a corrupted file. Batch validation as an overnight task prior to backing up your files is a great idea. If it finds a problem, have Steam do a validation and repair on it.
Change Game Library Backgrounds
Enhanced Steam in the Steam Client
- Not recommended for non-technical users.
- Adds Pricing History, DRM Warnings, Wishlist Image Fixes, Custom Profile Backgrounds, and more.
Unable to log in
temporarily launch Steam with the -tcp suffix on Windows 7 • Link
launch Steam with the -tcp suffix • Link
- It's been reported that launching Steam as admin will fix the issue
- The directory
C:\Program Files (x86)is not present on 32-bit copies of Windows
- Steam has an official page including fixes related to network and connection issues: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_cat.php?id=4
Steam Won't Launch
Steam updates sometimes fail to progress, or the message
'Failed to find Steam' appears. This can normally be fixed by deleting:
ClientRegistry.blob which can be found in the following locations:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\
This will delete your saved password for Steam, and force it to re-download the Steam client update. This method usually always fix other problems with Steam, so it is usually a good idea to delete this whenever Steam encounters an error.
If Steam will not launch, delete this folder and restart:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\appcache\
If this fails, try deleting everything except
Error following updates
Manifests as update loops, possibly having one of the following errors:
"ERROR! Steam.exe (main exception): ERROR: copying SteamNew.exe to Steam.exe failed, Win32 Error 32 "The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.""
The fix belongs to andrey-t, found here: http://steamcommunity.com/discussions/forum/1/846938350899919669/
"The primary cause of this problem is a confirmed bug in Windows 7. When "Application Experience" service is not running, Windows 7 will retain the lock on executable files for several minutes after they finished execution.
Most people who encounter this problem are people who decided to optimize their Windows services and disabled "Application Experience" service as part of that process.
Because of the above bug, Steam client cannot update itself since Windows 7 retains the lock on "Steam.exe".
So, if you run into this issue, first and foremost go to your Services and make sure "Application Experience" service is enabled and running. Enable and start it. This will fix the issue in most cases."
- If the above steps do not resolve your problem, doing a clean reinstall of Steam may eliminate the issue.
Steam clean reinstall • Link
Game Won't Launch
Verify Integrity of Game Cache
This the first recommended troubleshooting step for all issues. Verifying the cache will checksum the game against Valve's code and replace any errant files.
Library > [Game] > Right click > Properties > Local files > Verify Integrity of Game Cache
First Time Setup
When launching a freshly installed game on Steam for the first time, the game will normally initiate "First Time Setup", installing DirectX, Visual Studio re-distributable and .NET libraries. This happens for the majority of Steam games.
While you may be running the latest and greatest versions of these programs, the individual games may still require specific versions of APIs like Direct 3D 10.
Occasionally the root of the hard drive will be filled with a dozen or so "vcredist" files. These can be safely removed.
Steam Servers Too Busy
Steam servers are currently unavailable
Steam servers are too busy
The Steam servers are currently too busy to handle your request. Please try again in a few minutes.
These messages may appear when trying to launch or install a game. This can be fixed by changing the Steam content server you are downloading from using the following steps:
- In the Steam client, select "Steam" then Settings.
- Navigate to the Downloads tab.
- Change the Download region to a different location.
Locations in a time zone where it is currently late night may yield the best results.
Error 80 And Application Load Error P:0000065432
Simply restart Steam to fix this error.
Failed to start game. App already running
This is a legitimate error message preventing you from launching the same game twice. If it is incorrect, restart Steam.
Moving Steam Files
If you wish to re-install Steam, or transfer your game data to a new hard drive, simply move the
userdata folders to a new location. You will find these folders in the following folder by default:
- 64-bit Windows:
- 32-bit Windows:
- 64-bit Windows:
Depending on the size of the folder it may take some time. Then, on the new system, install Steam and let it run once. Move
userdata back to the new Steam folder, replacing any existing files, then run Steam, connect online, and 'install' the games, which will revalidate the existing files and update their entries in the Steam library.
Failed To Find Steam
This error can be solved by simply restarting the Steam client. If this fails, try to refer to #Delete clientregistry.blob.
Moving Steam Games To Another Drive
- Some games does not have the option to install to secondary drives, it is however possible to use symbolic links for this matter.
Steam has the possibility to download games to secondary drives.
You can add a custom directory for games through Steam:
Steam > Settings > Downloads > Steam Library Folders > Add Library folder
Option - GameSave Manager
- contains a large list of relatively up to date game path locations
- can scan whether a game is already in that folder
- can create symbolic links in a single click.
- The native backup facility can be used to backup and restore Steam games. However, the manual move method is simpler, faster and more reliable.
- Sometimes when trying to install a backup created using inbuilt backup utility the loader will pop up and disappear constantly. To fix this, launch Steam and delete local data for the game you're trying to restore. Exit Steam and rerun the installer.
Steam Offline Mode
Steam's Offline Mode is designed to allow access to one's Steam library without having an internet connection. However, there are a large number of problems that often occur. If one's internet connection is limited (i.e. if ports required for Steam to run are closed), Steam will not start in Offline Mode and will return the following error:
Could not connect to steam network. This could be due to a problem with your internet connection, or with the Steam network. Please visit www.steampowered.com for more info.
This can be due to Steam detecting a valid internet connection (for example, for accessing normal browsing through HTTP), but lacking connection to certain ports required to start Steam. Ports may not be open for a large variety of reasons, for example:
- Ports are not open on router.
- Router may be overloaded by activity such as BitTorrent.
- Firewall may be blocking Steam ports.
A number of ways to force Offline Mode are available. However, all methods require authentication by logging into Steam at least once with a working internet connection.
- Find a working internet connection. Open Steam whilst internet connection is working.
- Tick 'Remember my password'.
- Click "Steam" > Go Offline. Steam should now restart.
Steam Offline Mode should now be accessible to the methods below.
Disable Internet Connection
To ensure that Steam never tries to connect online (and lose the authentication required for Offline Mode), disable one's network adapter. Opening Steam with a disabled connection will normally open the Steam Offline mode. However, many users report problems with this method. Repeat the authentication step, remembering to tick 'Remember my password'.
Always Force Offline Mode
Create/edit steam.cfg • Link
Forcing Offline Mode will make Steam to always open in Offline Mode, even with a working internet connection. A prompt will appear and the options Retry and Offline Mode will show up. Retry will simply restart Steam and cause the same menu options to come up, whereas Offline Mode will take one into the Steam game library.
This step still requires the authentication to be carried out.
Hex Editing winui.gcf
- Reportedly the
winui.gcffile can be hex edited in order to reenable Offline Mode. Please refer to instructions from X.nano.
Steam lowers volume of background Metro apps (Windows 8 only)
- Sometimes Metro apps (e.g. Music app, MediaMonkey app,...) lower their volume when sent to the background, this might be caused by Steam.
Deactivate automatic muting
Disable communications activity sound reduction • Link
Use push-to-talk for voice chat
Deactivate automatic muting • Link
Some games does not have the option to install in other game directories
- If you are unable to find the file you can locate it using Terminal commands like Find and Locate.
- Steam is only officially supported on Ubuntu 12.04 and newer; install from the Steam website or the Ubuntu Software Centre.
- Steam can also be installed in Wine to gain access to Windows-only games which cannot be installed through the native Linux Steam client.
- Buying Games through Steam and Billing Questions - General - Knowledge Base - Steam Support
- [By Request] PSA: Drastically speed up Steam's web browser as well as other internet dependent programs... Reddit
- Steam Font Size Too Small - Steam Users' Forums
- Family Sharing FAQ :: Steam Family Sharing
- How to Upload / Use custom images / screenshots in the Library background! - Steam Users' Forums
- STOP installing DX\.net EVERY GAME! - Steam Users' Forums
- Moving a Steam Installation and Games - Steam Support