If you’re a PC gamer, you’re probably familiar with Steam, but there’s more to Valve’s application than just launching your games. Dig a little deeper into the software and you’ll find plenty of options and features for you to take advantage of.
These can change the way Steam looks, make it easier to find your games, improve your Steam store recommendations, and much more.
We’ve picked 11 of our favorites below.
Download games remotely
You don’t have to be in front of your PC to install games: as long as your computer is turned on and connected to the Internet with the Steam client running, you can manage game downloads from anywhere you have access to a web browser.
- Log into your Steam account using your browser.
- Click on your name and Games on the top.
- Switch to the All games tab to see which games are not yet installed. You can then simply click on one of the icons on the right to start the download.
For example, if you’re in the office or working remotely, you can make sure a game is ready to play when you get home. You can leave the page open if you want to monitor the progress of the download.
Customize your shopping recommendations
There are a lot of games on the Steam store, as you’ve probably noticed, which can make it difficult to find titles you’re really interested in or relevant to you. There are a few ways you can get help with this.
Open the list for a game and you’ll see three options at the top:
- Add to your wishlist. You can find your wishlist in the main menu Store menu.
- To follow. This means that updates from the developers will appear in your activity feed.
- To ignore. This means that the game is hidden from you in the store, so you don’t have to see it every time you go there.
There are actually two options available for the Ignore option. They can be accessed via the small arrow next to the button.
- Ignore this. This option just hides the game.
- Played on another platform. Clicking this will hide the game, but feed it into your recommendation algorithm.
Manage your Steam downloads
Downloading gigabytes of glorious game data to your PC can put quite a strain on your broadband connection – and potentially interfere with other apps that need a bit of bandwidth at the same time.
However, you can place a few limits on Steam downloads.
- Choose from the application Steam > Institutions > To download.
- You’ll see options for throttling bandwidth and limiting the times of day downloads and updates can occur.
You can also prevent downloads from happening while you are playing a game or streaming a 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 good job suggesting new titles based on what you already like through the power of machine learning.
- Select from Steam Store > Your store > Interactive recommendation. (The tool is also available on the web.)
- You can now change the filters used to see games that are more or less popular or change the balance between newer and older games.
- Other options let you search for or exclude specific tags, and you can also exclude wishlisted games from the recommendations.
Install or uninstall multiple games at once
If you need to install several games at once – for example, you install Steam on a new computer – it’s not difficult.
- Open the Library tab.
- Ctrl-click the games you want to install.
- Right click on the selection and choose Installation selected.
The same trick also works to remove games from your computer:
- Usage Ctrl-click in the Library tab to select the games you want to delete.
- Right click on the selection and choose To manage > Delete selected.
Join the Steam beta
If you like living 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 a few bugs and glitches along the way.
To register via the Steam app:
- Select Steam > Institutions > Account.
- To elect Change next to beta participation and sign up for beta updates.
After a reboot you are good to go.
Organize your library with shelves and collections
Once your Steam library starts to reach a certain size, the default alphabetical list of games can get a little unwieldy. There are a number of ways to organize your library to make it easier to move around.
One is to create collections, which can be used to organize them any way you want, such as by genre or how much you like a game or the developer.
- Right click on a game on the Library tab in Steam.
- To elect Add to and create a new collection or add the game to an existing one.
Collections can also be collected automatically based on certain filters (called dynamic collections). To view your collections, click the four-square icon at the top of the game list.
You can also create one or more shelves by going to Library > Add shelf. Now you can set up new shelves in the Library view that shows your collections or several other categories of games (e.g. games you just installed).
Get advice on what to play next
For those of you with larger Steam libraries, certain games can easily be forgotten and neglected, which is where the Play Next feature comes in handy.
It’s not hard to find, but at the same time it’s easily overlooked if you always use the same selection of games in your library.
- Open the Library tab in Steam.
- Scroll down to find the Play Next shelf.
The recommendations here cover games in your library that you haven’t touched in a while. Apparently Steam uses some machine learning to figure out these recommendations for you.
Switch to Big Picture mode
As the name suggests, Big Picture mode is easier to use on larger screens (such as TVs) and is easier to control with a gamepad.
- Open the Display menu in Steam.
- Choose Big Picture mode to access Steam’s alternate interface. You will be given some tips on how to use the mode when you first start it up.
- It is also possible to launch Steam in Big Picture Mode via Steam > Settings > Interface.
- Leave it through the Current menu or by pressing Alt-Enter.
See which games take up the most storage space
You may want to save some storage space by limiting the number of games you have installed at one time. Knowing how big each title is in terms of gigabytes can help with that.
- Choose in the Steam application Steam > Settings > Downloads.
- Click Steam library folders. A new window will appear with your installed games, with the largest at the top of the list.
- Click Size on disk, and you can also sort the games by which you’ve played most recently, which can help you decide which ones to temporarily delete. The buttons below the list allow you to delete a game or move it to another drive on your system.
Share your library with friends and family
You don’t have to keep your Steam library to yourself. The platform has a built-in feature for sharing titles with up to five other people across 10 authorized devices.
- To do this, you must first log into Steam on the other person’s computer.
- In the Steam program window, click Steam > Settingsand then choose Family in the panel on the left.
- Check the marked box Authorize sharing of libraries on this computer.
- If you then allow your friend or family member to log back into their own Steam account, they should discover that your games are available to them.