For years now Steam has been where it’s at on PC, and there’s a case to be made that it helped save the PC from obsolescence. For those console owners who claim that it’s just too complicated to set up a PC for gaming, Steam is there to prove them otherwise, offering a platform for digital game downloads that’s so dominant, it’s pretty much come to define gaming on the PC.
But Valve, the company behind Steam (and Half-life, Dota, Counter-Strike, and other great things), tends to stay strangely quiet about some of its finest features. So I’m here to brag on its behalf. Here are five of my favourite Steam features.
1. Move Games Between Hard Drives
One of the most recently-added perks of Steam is the option to move games between hard drives (which kind of negates a piece I wrote just before that about ways to move games between drives).
First, you need to create a secondary install folder for your Steam games. To do this, while in Steam go to “Settings -> Downloads -> Steam Library Folders,” and in the new window, “Add Library Folder.” Once you’ve done that, go to your library, right-click the game you want to move, then go to “Properties -> Local Files -> Move Install Folder.”
2. Get a Refund
Refunds and digital downloads have never been the best of friends, but times are a-thankfully changing. Steam’s refund policy is still a little hazy, but broadly speaking you can request a refund within fourteen days of purchasing the game and if you’ve played it for less than two hours.
To request a refund go to the Steam Support page, click “A Purchase,” scroll down to the game you’d like to refund, click it, then select “I would like a refund.” If you meet the above conditions, getting a refund shouldn’t be a problem, but even if you fall outside of them (technical problems, etc.), then Steam will still review your case.
3. Steam Family Sharing
Probably the single best feature of Steam, Family Sharing, lets you share your entire games library with fellow Steam users. The catch is that you can’t play games in another person’s library while they’re playing their own games, but beyond that it’s pretty unrestricted.
To do this, the person sharing their library needs to log in to Steam on the other person’s computer (or give their password to the other person, which isn’t recommended unless it’s someone you trust with your life/Steam account). Once they’ve done this, they need to go into “Settings -> Family,” then tick the “Authorize Library Sharing on this computer” box. In the box below tick the box next to the account name of the person you want to share with, then click OK.
That’s it. Enjoy using your friend’s games library!
4. In-Home Streaming
If you do most of your gaming on a heavyweight gaming PC in the airing cupboard but want to play on the TV downstairs, you can stream Steam to a lesser device, like a laptop that you can then connect to the TV.
While in Steam go to “Settings -> In-Home Streaming,” and tick the “Enable streaming” box. (If your streaming doesn’t perform well, play around with the client and host options.) Next, log into your Steam account from the laptop while logged into Steam on your desktop, select the game you want to play, and choose the option to stream it.
5. Manage Games in Bulk
A neat little trick, but very much a hidden one. Gone are the days of playing single games to death – you probably have at least 100 games in your library and want a way to install, uninstall and generally manage them en masse. Luckily, you can do this much as you would in Windows by holding the “Ctrl” key while selecting games.
Hold “Ctrl” while selecting a bunch of installed games, then right-click to see options to uninstall them all, set categories for them, or add them to favourites. Conversely, if you want to queue up several games to install, you can hold Ctrl while selecting games that haven’t yet been installed, right-clicking, then clicking “Install.”
People like to complain, but Steam is probably the most robust and consumer-friendly gaming platform out there, putting its console counterparts to shame. I could preach more about the hidden joys of Steam, but we like to keep things short and pithy here on MTE. Do you have any secret Steam features you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.