When using Steam Family Sharing, you can share Steam games with family and friends without them needing to buy another copy. This sounds great on paper, but there are some limitations to it, as enabling this option requires that you sign in with your account on the computer where the games will be shared. This article discusses how to get Steam Family Sharing set up and gives you a method for doing so that won’t require you to share your password or be there in person.
Steam Family Sharing: The Rules
Steam Family Sharing allows you to share your Steam games with friends and family, but doing so isn’t always easy. A series of conditions need to be met first:
- You must be online to play shared games.
- Only one person can use the shared library at a time. If you are currently playing any of your games, your library will not be available to family and friends you have shared your games with.
- A few select games cannot be shared. The vast majority of games on Steam support Family Sharing, but to check which games in your library don’t support it, click here. (You’ll need to be signed in to your Steam account on your browser.)
- Lastly, it’s recommended that you turn on Steam Guard when you want to have Steam Family Sharing set up.
As far as limitations go, that’s about it, but how do you set it up?
How to Enable Steam Guard on Your Account
Steam Guard is an additional layer of security for your Steam account. This prevents unauthorized access to your Steam information and game library if someone logs in to your account without your permission.
With Steam Guard enabled on your account, you’ll receive a special code on your email or the Steam app on your smartphone, whichever is your preferred way of receiving log-in codes.
Since you can’t receive via both methods, here’s how to set each method up:
Receive Steam Guard Codes by Email
- Log in to your Steam account on your computer.
- Click on “Steam -> Settings.”
- In the new window, go to the Account tab and click “Manage Steam Guard Account Security.”
- Select “Get Steam Guard codes by email.”
- Once you set up receiving Steam Guard codes by email successfully, you’ll be automatically logged out of your Steam account. You’ll need to log back in using your credentials and the code you’ll receive from Steam Support in your email.
Receive Steam Guard Codes from the Steam Mobile App
- Log in to your Steam account on your smartphone.
- Tap on the hamburger icon at the top left of your screen and tap “Steam Guard.”
- Tap “Add Authenticator.”
- Enter the SMS code you received on your verified phone number.
- Write down your recovery code. You can use this to identify yourself in case you lose your Steam Guard-enabled phone.
- You should start getting Steam Guard codes from your phone’s Steam app. The recovery code is also readily available in the Steam Guard tab in the app.
Setting Up Steam Family Sharing
Now that you have set up Steam Guard, you can proceed to set up Steam Family Sharing. The main requirement is to sign in to your account on the other PC. For instance, if you live in the same house with a family member, you can simply log in on their machine.
- Once you’ve logged in, head to Steam Settings. You can find this in the top left of your Steam window.
- Click “Family,” then “Authorize Library Sharing on this Computer.” Below, you’ll have a list of eligible accounts for family sharing, which should be any accounts that have previously signed in to that PC.
Congratulations! You now have Family Sharing set up. Sign out of your account, and your family member’s PC should now have access to all of your Family Sharing games.
But how do you set up Steam Family Sharing when the person you want to share with is far away?
How to Do Long-Distance Family Sharing without Sharing Passwords
This is where TeamViewer comes into play. Set up TeamViewer and use the Remote Control functionality to sign in to your account on a trusted friend’s PC. Enable Family Sharing as shown above, then sign back out.
If you don’t want to install TeamViewer but have Google Chrome, another viable alternative is Chrome Remote Desktop. Both users need to head to the Remote Desktop Page, click “Set up Remote Access,” and click “Download” to get the extension on their respective devices.
How to Set Up Google Chrome Remote Desktop
- Go to Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop page.
- Click on the blue download button.
- You’ll be taken to the Chrome Web Store where you can add the Chrome Remote Desktop as a Chrome extension. To add, click the blue “Add to Chrome” button.
- Click on the Chrome Remote Desktop extension on Chrome and install the Chrome Remote Desktop software on both computers that’ll be sharing Steam library content.
- On the other end, your trusted friend should go to the “Remote Support” tab in the Chrome Remote Desktop software.
- They should click on “Generate Code” under “This device” and provide the code to you.
- On your end, type in the access code provided to you and click “Connect.”
- Once you’re in, your trusted friend will get a floating notification that they’re sharing their desktop with you.
- You should now log in to your Steam account on their desktop and set up Family Sharing and with their account. Remember to log back out after you’re done.
How to Share Games with Friends Using Steam Remote Play Together
If you have multiplayer games on your Steam library, you can play them with your friends over the Internet, provided those games have Remote Play Together support. Your friends don’t have to have the supported games in their library to play with you for free.
Here’s how to use Remote Play Together:
- Launch a Steam game with Remote Play Together support. To check whether a game is supported, go to the “Library” tab, click on the game, and click on the Info (i) button.
- If the game you want to share is supported, launch it.
- Once the game has launched, open your Steam “Friends & Chat” window and invite your friends. You can invite up to four friends, or more, if all participants have fast and stable Internet connections.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I am playing a Family Sharing game and the owner of the account starts playing that game at the same time?
Unfortunately, the account holder has priority when it comes to playing the games in their library. This means that if an approved user is playing a game via Family Sharing, and the account holder is playing the game too, the guest will be kicked out. According to Valve, the visitor will be given a few minutes to purchase the game and continue or save their progress and quit the game.
Will in-game items be shared between Family Sharing users?
While all members of your Family Sharing setup can acquire in-game items, the items they didn’t acquire themselves will not show up in their Steam game inventories or in-game inventories. Simply put, the in-game and Steam inventory for all shared games is based on individual item acquisitions.
How do I remove a user from my Family Sharing setup?
On Steam, go to “Settings -> Family” and uncheck their username under eligible accounts. You can unauthorize Family Sharing from your computer and remove all users’ access to your Steam library.
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