Gaming Windows

5 Secrets Of The Steam Client That You Should Be Using

Craig Snyder 16-09-2014

Gabe Newell Who Is Gabe Newell And Why Do Gamers Care? In every area of technology, we have figureheads. For the desktop, laptop, and now even smartphones, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs should both be names that ring bells. For our internet and social networking, someone... Read More and the rest of the Valve team have been so good to us with Steam. Not only have they used it to push out some of the best PC games 5 Sites Where You Can Download Old PC Games for Free Want to try downloading some old PC games for free? Here are the sites where you can find the best games of old, free to download. Read More in history, but it’s now the library shelf that every gamer uses to organize their collection.


However, are you sure that you’re getting the most out of your Steam client? If you aren’t careful, there are some really useful features and tools that you could be looking over. In this article, I’d like to show off five that are particularly important.

Backup and Restore Games

If you’re like me, you have a few hundred Steam games. A few hundred Steam games can add up to a few hundred gigabytes of space. That’s a lot to have to redownload in the event of switching desktops.


Through an option in the Steam drop-down menu, you’re able to back up or restore your games. This will allow you to make a compressed archive What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More File compression is an important and common task users frequently ask of their computers. Reducing a file’s size makes it easier to email or place on a flash drive. It also reduces bandwidth usage and... Read More of any amount that you have currently downloaded (as long as they are updated to their latest version).



An immediate issue I have with this interface is the fact that you have to manually select your games one-by-one. It would be a little less annoying if there was an option to select all of your games, but it’s definitely better than nothing.


Next, you’re able to select a backup location, a backup file name, and the file size of each of your compressed files. If you’re backing up several games, Steam will split it up into multiple files (split to fit on a CD or DVD). You’re also able to enter a custom split size.

One thing I should mention is that, if you’re backing up several games, you will want to rename the backup file (as by default, it includes every single game’s name). The Windows file system From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified Different hard drives and operating systems may use different file systems. Here's what that means and what you need to know. Read More cannot deal with such large file names.


Library View Switching

Hidden in plain sight is one of the best methods to experiencing the most out of your collection of Steam games. Changing the view of your Library within the client is changing the entire way you look at Steam.

Library View

The default is detailed view, but Steam also offers a list and grid option. The list view shows extended details about the game, like the Metascore and when you’ve last played, and the grid view is a more visual approach that allows you to use large tiles that represent each game.

Library View


In grid view, there is a slider across the top that will allow you to resize the tiles.

Add Non-Steam Games

There are a lot of games that aren’t available on Steam, but you can add them to Steam anyway. Adding non-Steam games to your library turns it into the ultimate gaming resource. It’s your desktop for games.

Adding a non-Steam game is as simple as selecting to do so from the Games drop-down menu and then checking the boxes beside a list of all of the applications that you currently have installed.



If you don’t see a game that you’re trying to add in this list, you can manually add them through the Browse… button, which will let you explore your hard drive.

Adding non-Steam games to Steam will allow your friends to see that you’re in game and playing them. Unfortunately, it does not track the time that you spend playing these games.

Changing Skins

A feature most are unaware of, skinning your Steam became a little more difficult in more recent versions of the client. One of the most popular websites for Steam skins, [No Longer Available], recently started redirecting users to the official Steam website. The good news? The best Steam skin is still out there and available!

Steam Skins

If you’re installing skins that you’ve found around the web, you’ll be able to access them through the Interface tab of your settings. However, Metro for Steam comes as a simple standalone installation.

Steam Skins

It’s definitely one of the most sleek skins that you’ll find available, especially for those of you who are running Windows 8.

Individual Game Properties

Right-clicking a game in your Library and selecting Properties gives you a wealth of information and settings to work with, but it seems like so few people know about and utilize this.


The General tab allows you to turn on the Steam Overlay specific to a particular game. You can also assign advanced launch options and create a desktop shortcut from this tab.


The Updates and Local Files tab lets you control how the game expands and operates on your hard drive. Through these menus, you can determine if the game should automatically update and you can browse through or immediately backup your game’s local files.


There’s even a Betas tab for most games, which will allow you to opt in to special beta programs that many people don’t even know about or haven’t ever heard of.


Leave no stone unturned when you’re exploring the Steam client. Steam is the type of software mentioned beside powerhouses like Dropbox and iTunes, and it’s something that you’re going to use very often if you’re a gamer. Why not get the most out of it?

Know any other interesting secrets or hidden settings that can help us unlock the Steam client? Share those with me in the comments below!

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  1. aorshahar
    September 18, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Now you can hide certain games in your steam library if you have too many, or ones tat you don't to show up

    • Larson Ashcroft
      May 26, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      Like Hunie Pop?

  2. Jay
    September 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I just wanted to add the fact that any game procured through Steam client will always be compatable when changing your OS, for example, if you downloaded a game on your Windows Vista or Windows 7 using Steam, if you update your PC with Windows 8 or even buy a completely new computer, Steam kindly takes the time to patch it or something as it will always be compatable with your new system. This is certainly one of the greatest advantages to having or especially purchasing games through Steam!
    I am ALI 'I ATUA or JAYROCS, a long time subscriber to MUO my favorite info and heads up Esubscription!!! I Love you guys!

  3. Any Mouse
    September 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Tell me how to get my password back and i'll believe you.

    Steam is abyssmal.

    Sorry to spoil the love in.

  4. Imaduddin S
    September 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    One of the worst things about Steam ? The updates . Full stop .

    I installed Steam a while ago but the download it takes after the boot - up then I didn't even had a single game installed , took almost 10 minutes to half hour

    • bard
      September 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Was going to post the same thing.

      You have no choice but to wait with a steam update. Usually that is the time I instead.

      Currently have a limited steam selection installed _rest backed up. After latest steam updated almost all need updating. Some, like Bioshock Infinite, have decided to update the whole game. With crappy internet this is a lot of down time.

    • thingy3424432
      December 21, 2014 at 2:21 am

      would you rather have fragmented games similar to android software? because thats what it was like before there was steam around. you had to go to every single download site for ecery single game and pry to god that the mirros were still up and functional

  5. Alec
    September 17, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I only found out a couple of weeks ago that steam now allows games to be in more than one category.
    Don't know how long that's been there but it's something I've been wanting for ages, I now use it more like a tag system

  6. Thor
    September 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    The sharing of my library is the best feature IMO. And I use the launch options a lot as well.

  7. Ben S
    September 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Awesome list. Steam isn't something that you think of as being customizable, but the themes and different views can really go a long way. If you have lots of games, Grid view is like browsing through a private cabinet collection!

  8. klettr
    September 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    steam skin site is disabled!
    Good stuff to read :)

  9. Don
    September 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    One of my favorites is the "Set Launch Options" button. For Valve games (TF2, L4D*, HL*, others?) if you put -novid in the launch options, it skips the video/intro stuff and goes straight to the menu. Does anyone know/use any others?

    • Joe
      September 16, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      -width, -length, -console -window -fullscreen and many more

    • HelpingHand
      September 18, 2014 at 6:17 am

      -high and -threads (x) should be used in every if not most games. -high sets the game to HIGH priority, and also -threads determines how many threads that the came can use from your CPU.

  10. Thomas Sanjurjo
    September 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Not to mention using the launch options for games, like -nosplash / -novid: