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If you’re a dedicated PC gamer, odds are you spend a lot of time with Steam open on your computer. You need to be logged in to shop the latest sales, chat with your gaming friends, get the latest patches for your games, and access many more of Steam’s useful features 8 Steam Features You Didn't Know You Had 8 Steam Features You Didn't Know You Had You probably think you know how to use Steam pretty well. As with any piece of software, there are features you use everyday, and those you don't know you have until you look. Read More .

But just because you have to have Steam on doesn’t mean you have to tolerate its plain appearance. Skin Your Steam hosts a variety of free skins made by talented artists, and they’re easy to install and activate. Whether you want clean and subtle, or loud and flashy, check out some of the coolest face lifts for your Steam interface.

How Do I Apply Skins?

The vast majority of skins will download to your computer as a .zip file. Just extract that file to the skins sub-folder within your Steam folder. If you didn’t change anything about where Steam installs, it should be in your program files. Here’s an example of the file path in Windows 7 64-bit.

Steam-Skins-File-Path
Once you’ve extracted the files, you’ll want to log into Steam, open the settings menu, and choose the interface tab. Here you should see a dropdown menu that shows you all of the skins Steam can detect.

Steam-Skins-Settings
Select the skin that suits your needs, and restart Steam to see it applied.

But which skins should you use? Well, what fits with your tastes?

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Clean & Subtle

Metro-For-Steam
Some skins only make minor changes to Steam, adjusting fonts, icons, and menu layouts. Metro for Steam uses Windows 8’s iconic styling and fonts to create a clean, modern look. The higher of Steam’s usual two menu bars is trimmed off here, and its features are accessible from the cog shaped icon on the far right. Steam’s narrow border of dead space is removed as well, so information flows out to every edge of the window.

Apparition-Steam
Apparition achieves similar results, but with styling that should be immediately familiar to Mac OS X users. The impressive attention to detail really shines on this one. Note the button styling and oval search bar. Tiny pale blue pips beneath player icons show you who’s online, and those pips glow green for players who are currently in-game. The uppermost menu bar is trimmed here too, with its features tucked beneath Steam’s logo on the far left.

Loud & Flashy

Alert-Steam-Skin
Alert Skin‘s yellow theme might first seem like it would be hard on the eyes, but in practice it doesn’t have a negative impact. Alert isn’t an extensive modification that changes buttons and fonts, but it brings it’s yellow and black caution zone theme to Steam without breaking anything. Many really attractive skins didn’t make the cut for this list because they ultimately hampered the user experience. Text ran off the edge of the window, or wrote over or under icons. Others suffered jarring thematic shifts on certain UI elements, making clear that they hadn’t been updated to keep up with changes to Steam’s layout. Alert may not ultimately change much about Steam, but it’s attractive and functional.

Digitally-Unmastered-Skin
Digitally Unmastered is another skin that executes well on its targeted theme. If you’ve got a fondness for the cool green on black hacking terminal interface from The Matrix, you’ll feel right at home here. Check out the change to the online status icons. Black box for offline, white for on, green for in-game. It’s an intuitive switch, and one that keeps with the theme. The slim green rectangle outlines are everywhere, evoking older, simpler user interfaces, and many elements highlight with the same rectangles on hover over. It’s another great example of taking a simple theme and following through on it with attention to detail.

Conclusion

Like desktop backgrounds or Facebook cover photos, Steam skins are just one more way to make your computing experience distinctly yours. Browse the wide variety of skins, and find one that speaks to you. If you can’t find one that fits your needs, you could even learn to make your own. Just make sure you share your masterpiece somewhere so your fellow Steam users can appreciate it.

Know of any other great sources for Steam skins? Or better yet, have you made any yourself? Share with our community in the comments!

Eager to customize more of the interfaces in your life? See how to create the ultimate Android homescreen Create The Homescreen Of Your Dreams With The Super-Customizable UCCW Widget [Android] Create The Homescreen Of Your Dreams With The Super-Customizable UCCW Widget [Android] One of Android's greatest strength is how customizable it is. Even without rooting your device or installing a custom ROM, you can do some incredible things to shape your phone to be just the way... Read More , or check out our guide to Windows customization!

  1. James Mcnee
    July 28, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Hey everyone, I got sick of scouring the internet looking for new skins and their download locations so I created a little JAVA app that has a repository of some of the best skins (If you know of any that are not on there leave a comment on the linked page!). The app lets you download the skin directly to your steam folder and remove them too. It allows you to manage what skins you have installed and also contains the latest versions. I will try to keep the app up to date as much as possible. The app is Windows Only.

    Check it out: http://jamesmcnee.co.uk/?p=104

  2. Jorge B
    June 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I'm getting one of these. Particularly the Metro skin. Looks quite clean, and a refreshing look to the default, plain skin.

  3. Lucas
    June 24, 2014 at 4:32 am

    I quite liked the "Metro" theme, but the last time I updated steam, it stopped working. I cant find a working upload of the Metro one for newer steam versions.

    • Finnen
      June 24, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Really? That's weird, I'm using it all the time, haven't updated it in months. Last time I used Steam was this morning, just before I went to work and it worked flawlessly. AFAIK this skin has it's own website (metroforsteam dot com) and page on DeviantArt. You should be able to get it from one of these sources. Good luck, it's a really good skin and makes using Steam much better :)

  4. Stephan H
    June 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    As much as I like articles on this site, I absolutely *hate* hopelessly exaggerated headlines like this. Yes, the themes look nice, but *no* they absolutely do not blow my mind. They're nice, but that's all. They're not earth shattering nor revolutionary or anything like that.

    I don't think that MakeUseOf needs to use such cheap techniques to lure users to their site.

    • Josh
      June 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Agreed. I clicked on the link looking for some totally awesome redesign of the UI, changing the way I see the Steam client, making me want to just sit here and stare at it, admiring its awesome newness. Instead I find four bland semi-alrightish slightly different versions of what I already have. -_-

  5. Ben S
    June 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I never even thought about doing this; it's a great idea.

    Oddly, as much as I hate Windows 8, I actually like the flat look of Metro. Going to apply one of these now!

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