How To: Share your Steam game li­brary

Steam lets you al­low oth­ers ac­cess to your games li­brary. Just be care­ful who you share it with, warns IAN PAUL

Tech Advisor - - How To -

One of the many un­sung fea­tures of the Steam desk­top gam­ing client is that fam­ily mem­bers and friends can use it to sim­u­late a shared gam­ing con­sole. I’m not talk­ing hard­ware here, but the abil­ity for every­one to play the same games re­gard­less of whether they paid for the right to play it.

The fea­ture is called Steam Fam­ily Li­brary Shar­ing, and when it’s set up it al­lows you to share games

from your ac­count li­brary with fam­ily mem­bers and vice versa. Be­fore you get started, ev­ery ac­count that wants to use fam­ily shar­ing must first have Steam Guard en­abled, which is Steam’s two-fac­tor ver­i­fi­ca­tion se­cu­rity fea­ture.

Once you’ve met that pre­req­ui­site, click on Steam > Set­tings, and when the Set­tings win­dow opens se­lect Fam­ily from the left-hand nav­i­ga­tion col­umn. Un­der the sub-head­ing Fam­ily Li­brary Shar­ing click the box next to Au­tho­rize Li­brary Shar­ing on this com­puter.

If there are any other lo­cal Steam ac­counts on that PC, you’ll be able to au­tho­rize those users to play the games in your li­brary. You can also send a re­quest to

other lo­cal play­ers to have ac­cess to their li­braries. For those of you with­out other lo­cal ac­counts on your PC, try it with friends. When some­one you want to share with comes over, log out of Steam and have them log in. They can then en­able shar­ing on your PC and au­tho­rize your ac­count to play their games.

While games can be shared, progress, achieve­ments, and in-game pur­chases (ex­clud­ing DLC) can­not. Any in-game ac­tiv­i­ties are saved to the ac­count play­ing the game, not the game owner’s ac­count.

Steam lim­its users to share their li­braries with up to five oth­ers and on a max­i­mum of 10 de­vices at one time. Fam­ily shar­ing can­not be used to al­low ac­cess to spe­cific games – it’s the en­tire li­brary or noth­ing.

Other peo­ple can only play your games when you aren’t us­ing them. If you start to play one of your shared games at the same time as some­one else, the other per­son will be given a few mo­ments to save their progress and get out or to buy the game them­selves.

Not all games are avail­able for shar­ing due to tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions, re­gional re­stric­tions, subscription re­quire­ments, and the like. Also keep in mind that you don’t want to share you li­brary with any­one who’s got a fishy rep­u­ta­tion. Valve is mer­ci­less when it comes to cheats. If some­one uses your ac­count to cheat at a game pro­tected by the Valve Anti-Cheat sys­tem, and gets caught, your Fam­ily Li­brary Shar­ing priv­i­leges could be re­voked and you might get banned from play­ing that game al­to­gether.

Even with all the caveats, Steam’s Fam­ily Shar­ing is a great way to ex­pand your li­brary with­out tap­ping your bank ac­count.

You can en­able Fam­ily Li­brary Shar­ing with a few clicks

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