If you’re a PC gamer, then you’re probably familiar with Steam – but there’s more to Valve’s application than launching your games. Dig a little deeper into the software, and you’ll find plenty of options and features you can take advantage of.
It can change the look of Steam, make it easier to find your games, improve your Steam store recommendations, and more.
We’ve selected 11 of our favorites below.
Download games remotely
You don’t need to be sitting in front of your PC to install games: as long as your computer is turned on and connected to the web with the Steam client running, you can manage game downloads from anywhere which you can access with a web browser.
- Log in to your Steam account using your browser.
- Click on your name and Games above.
- Transfer to All Games tab to see which games are not installed yet. You can click one of the icons on the right to start the download.
If you’re in the office or working remotely, for example, you can make sure a game is ready to play when you get home. You can leave the page open if you want to check the download progress.
Change your store recommendations
There are a lot of games in the Steam store, as you may have noticed, which can make it difficult to find titles that interest you or are relevant to you. There are a few ways you can get help with this.
Open the list for any game, and you’ll see three options near the top:
- Add to your wishlist. Your wishlist can be seen on the main page shop menu.
- follow This means that updates from developers will appear in your activity feed.
- Ignore it. This means the game is hidden from you in the store so you won’t see it every time you go there.
There are actually two options available for the Ignore option. They are accessible via the small arrow next to the button.
- Ignore It. This option the game is just hidden.
- Played on Another Platform. Clicking it hides the game but feeds it into your recommendations algorithm.
Manage your Steam downloads
Downloading gigabytes worth of glorious game data to your PC can put quite a strain on your broadband connection – and possibly interfere with other apps that need less bandwidth at the same time.
You can set some limits on Steam downloads, however.
- From the application, select steam > Settings > Downloads.
- You will find options to limit bandwidth and limit the hours of the day that downloads and updates can occur.
You can also stop downloads that happen while you’re playing or streaming the game from another computer.
Find new games with the Steam Interactive Recommender
Looking for something new to play? The Steam Interactive Recommender is built into the store and does a great job of suggesting new titles based on what you like through the power of machine learning.
- From within Steam, select shop > Your Store > Interactive Recommender. (The tool is also available on the web.)
- You can change the filters used to see games that are more or less popular or to change the balance between new and old games.
- Other options let you search for or exclude specific tags, and you can also exclude preferred games from recommendations.
Install or uninstall multiple games at once
If you need to install several games at once – you are setting up Steam on a new computer, for example – it is not difficult to do.
- Open the library tab.
- Ctrl-click the games you want to install.
- Right-click on the selection and choose Install is selected.
The same trick also works to remove games from your computer:
- use Ctrl-click on library tab to select the games you want to delete.
- Right-click on the selection and choose management > Uninstall the selected.
Join the Steam beta
If you want to live on the cutting edge of gaming, you can join the Steam beta program and get early access to new features and experimental updates. As always with betas, expect some bugs and glitches along the way.
To sign up from the Steam app:
- selection steam > Settings > Account.
- Choose Renewal next to beta participation and sign up for beta updates.
After a reboot, you are ready to go.
Organize your library with Shelves and Collections
When your Steam library starts to get a certain size, the default alphabetical list of games becomes a little unusable. There are a few ways to organize your library to make it easier to navigate.
One is to create Collections, which can be used to organize them in any way you want, such as based on genre or how much you like a game or its developer.
- Right-click a game on library Steam tab.
- Choose Add to and create a new Collection or add a game to an existing one.
Collections can also be automatically collected based on certain filters (called Dynamic Collections). To see your Collections, click on the icon that shows four squares above the game list.
You can also create one or more Shelves by going to library > Add Shelf. Now, you can set up the new Shelves on library view showing your Collections or different categories of games (such as your recently installed ones).
Get advice on what to play next
For those of you with large Steam libraries, some games are easy to forget and neglect, which is where the Play Next feature comes in.
It’s not hard to find, but at the same time, it’s easy to forget if you always default to the same selection of games in your library.
- Open the library tab inside Steam.
- Scroll down to find the Game Next shelf
The recommendations here consist of games in your library that you haven’t touched in a while. Apparently, Steam has deployed some machine learning to choose these recommendations for you.
Switch to Big Picture Mode
As the name suggests, Big Picture Mode is easier to use on larger displays (like TVs), and is more straightforward to operate with a gamepad.
- Open the view menu within Steam.
- Choose Large Picture Mode to access the alternative Steam interface. You will be given some tips on using the mode when you first start it.
- It is also possible to start Steam in Big Picture Mode by steam > Settings > Interface.
- Release it through power menu or by clicking Alt-Enter.
See which games take up the most storage space
You can save some storage space by limiting the number of games you have installed at any one time. Knowing how big each title is in terms of gigabytes helps with that.
- Inside the Steam application, select steam > Settings > Downloads.
- Click Steam Library Folders. A new window will appear showing your installed games, with the largest one at the top of the list.
- Click Disk Size, and you can also sort the games by which ones you’ve played most recently, which might help you decide which ones to temporarily remove. Using the buttons below the list, you can uninstall a game or move it to another drive on your system.
Share your library with friends and family
You don’t need to keep your Steam library to yourself. The platform has a built-in feature for sharing titles with up to five other people on 10 authorized devices.
- To do this, you must first log into Steam on the other person’s computer.
- From the Steam program window, click Steam > Settingsand then select FAMILIES in the panel on the left.
- Check the box marked Allow Library Sharing on this computer.
- If you allow your friend or family member to log into their own Steam account, they should know that your games are available to them.