Whether we are a casual gamer or a hardcore one, chances are we often use Steam to play games. The Steam client is an excellent piece of software regarding video game management, but many of us don’t know its full potential. So, without further ado, take a look at these ten super useful Steam settings that will help you improve your PC gaming experience.
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Table of Contents
- Game sharing
- Improve Steam download speed
- Add non-Steam games to the Steam library
- Move Steam games to another HDD/SSD
- Play a Steam game remotely on another home device
- Backup Steam games
- Steam broadcasting
- Bulk install/uninstall Steam games
- Steam Wishlist
- Steam game refunds
- Do you know of any other useful Steam settings you would like to share with us?
In September 2013, Valve introduced what is, in our opinion, one of the best Steam settings out there; the family game sharing option. This feature enables us to share our game library with friends or family members and vice versa.
The coolest thing is that both sides keep their own in-game profiles, and the service is free of charge. Moreover, the Steam family sharing option is compatible with the Steam client for Linux. However, there are some limitations.
We can give access to our games to up to five Steam accounts and up to ten different computers over a three-month period.
Furthermore, only one gamer can access the library at any given time, while the owner will always have priority. This means that when we play a game from a shared library that the “lender” suddenly wants to use, we will need to close said game.
On top of that, we cannot “borrow” purchasable in-game content like DLC for a video game that we already own.
To allow another user to play our games, it’s mandatory that Valve’s two-step authentication feature is active on both accounts.
To check whether Steam Guard is working, we log in to the Steam client. Next, we go to "Steam settings" → "Account," located at the top-left corner of the window.
Now, if Steam Guard is not active, we have to confirm our email by clicking “Verify email address” on the same screen. Then, we select “Manage Steam Guard account security”…
...and choose the second option.
Once we are ready, we need to log in with our Steam credentials on our friend’s computer where we would like to give access. To do this, we can use a remote desktop application like TeamViewer.
The last step is to go to Steam "Settings" → "Family" to authorize this computer for our friend’s Steam account, and then we log out.
If for some reason we want to terminate the access, the process is remarkably easy. We can remotely revoke the permission at any time by signing into Steam's website.
By the way, if you want to hide or delete a game from your library, check out our detailed guide.
Improve Steam download speed
With the above Steam settings, we described how to share or expand our game list for free. Hopefully, we won't do that with poor quality titles. In this section, we will see how to speed up Steam downloads on specific occasions.
When we download a video game, Steam tries to pick the server that is closest to our region.
However, when a highly-anticipated game comes out or when the seasonal discount sales go live, some servers may struggle with the high traffic.
So, if we face any server congestion issues on those days, such as unusually slow download speed, we can try another nearby source. To change the download server, we go to Steam "Settings" → "Downloads" in the Steam client.
Add non-Steam games to the Steam library
As we mentioned at the beginning, it is most likely that we play the majority of our games on Steam's platform.
That said, is there anything we can do if we want to keep, say, a game from Ubisoft, in the same place as the rest of our Steam collection? As you might have already guessed, of course there is.
We can add non-Steam games to our library with some simple Steam settings. This also applies for DRM-Free copies of video games that we have on our hard disk drive.
Other benefits of doing this include:
- The ability to use the Steam overlay on non-Steam titles.
- Our Steam friends will know which non-Steam games we play, and when we are in-game.
- We will be able to remotely play these video games on another home computer.
To add non-Steam games, we open the Steam client and we go to “Add a game” → “Add a non-Steam game” at the bottom-left corner of the screen.
There, we choose the title from the displayed list, or we browse for the game’s executable file (.exe).
Keep in mind that to launch “For Honor” from our Steam library, for example, the Ubisoft client must be running. The same goes for an Origin game as well.
Move Steam games to another HDD/SSD
In the case that our hard disk starts to fill up, we can move our installed games to another drive.
The first thing we have to do is create a library folder on the new storage drive. We head to Steam "Settings" → "Downloads," and we click the “Steam library folders” button.
Afterward, we press “Add library folder” to set the directory in the desired location.
Now, we right-click the game whose installation folder we want to move, and we go to "Local files" → "Move install folder" to complete the process.
Finally, to check whether the transfer was successful, we select the “Local files” tab again in order to verify the integrity of the game files.
Play a Steam game remotely on another home device
This is another handy option that lets us stream our Steam titles from our gaming PC to a less powerful computer in a different room via our home network.
We can even remotely play some games while on the toilet, seated on our throne with a Windows tablet, like an absolute king.
What we need is a host computer to run the game with at least a quad-core CPU, and a client device that supports hardware accelerated H.264 decoding.
To stream a game to another PC on the same network, we first log in with our Steam account on the host computer.
Next, we log in again with our Steam credentials on the device where we want to remotely play the game. The last thing we have to do is to click the "Stream" button.
Backup Steam games
The vast majority of the Steam games support Steam cloud. This feature stores our profile achievements, game saves and preferences; by default on Valve’s cloud storage space.
However, we can take a local backup of the entire game files. The advantage of this option is that we don't need to re-download the title in the case we uninstall it.
To back a Steam game up, we right-click the title to choose “Backup game files”...
...and then we set the backup location. Next, we select the preferred size of the files if we want to burn them to an optical disk.
To restore a game, we simply go to “Steam” → “Backup and restore games” → “Restore a previous backup,” and we browse for the corresponding folder.
Twitch and YouTube are the most popular live streaming platforms to watch or broadcast a gaming session. Yet, some users don’t know Steam’s built-in broadcasting system.
If we are looking to find a reason to use this feature, there is one. Steam broadcasting is the easiest way to establish a live stream, for our friends who want to watch our gameplay.
Every time we play a game, any Steam friend can watch us by clicking “Watch game” from our profile.
From our side, we can adjust the respective Steam settings in the Steam client at the “Broadcasting” tab.
Bulk install/uninstall Steam games
If we happen to have bought a game bundle or we are in the process of switching to a new PC, then we can install all of our games at the same time.
All we have to do is hold down the "Shift" or "CTRL" key to select multiple games. Next, we right-click → “Install.” The same goes if we want to remove several games at once from our computer.
With the Wishlist, we can keep track of the games we would like to buy at a discounted price.
To add a title to our Wishlist, we click the “Add to your wishlist” button on the Steam store game page.
If that specific game ever goes on sale, we will receive an email notification informing as of just that.
Steam game refunds
It is a harsh truth that even high-profile games with favorable pre-launch media coverage can end up being massive disappointments after their release. There are so many factors that play into whether a game will be successful or not that it's next to impossible to predict before it actually hits the market.
So, if we just bought a game but it turned out to be buggy, for example, we can request a refund.
The terms and conditions are the following:
- We must submit the refund application within 14 days of the purchase date.
- We must not have more than two hours of playtime on that specific game.
To appeal for a refund, we log in to the Steam client and head to “Help” → “Steam Support” → “Purchases.”
There, we search for the specific purchase that we want to get refunded, and we submit the request form.
Were you aware of all of those useful Steam features? Do you currently use any of them? If you happen to know of any other cool tricks Steam might have up its sleeve, let us know in the comments below.
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