8 Steam Features You Didn’t Know You Had

Robert Wiesehan 19-05-2014

You probably think you know how to use Steam pretty well. You shop for your favorite titles, chat with your gaming friends, and manage your library with ease. You know how to find the best prices on games 5 Ways To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Steam Games Steam is known for being super convenient for managing one’s video game library, and it’s also useful in a few other ways, but did you know that with a bit of effort you can obtain... Read More and make the most of Steam’s trading card system Turn Your Steam Trading Cards Into What You Really Want Back in June, Steam's Trading Card system went live to the general public. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in customizing your profile or bragging about your Steam level, you can offset your gaming... Read More . You’re a natural.


But as with any piece of software, there are the features you use everyday, and the features you don’t even know you have until you go looking for them. See where you can find these 8 features that inform and fine tune your Steam use for the better.



    • Where to find it: Store > Recommended
    • What it does: Your recommended page consolidates several pieces of data to intelligently suggest new games to you. You’ll see games your friends have positively reviewed, ones they’ve been playing lately, games that are similar to those you’ve been playing lately, and even some that you’ve just browsed over and passed by in the last few days. It’s a great way to find a new game for a weekend or vacation.



  • Where to find it: Store > Stats
  • What it does: You may have clicked this one before and found yourself looking at the graph of concurrent players on Steam and a list of the top 100 games played today, but those aren’t the only stats you can view. Check the link to Steam’s hardware and software survey to see how your rig measures up against that of the average Steam member. If you’re running behind, you might want to start setting aside money for an upgrade so you can keep up with the demands of future AAA releases. You can even see which countries get the most data from Steam on an interactive map by checking out the download stats link.




  • Where to find it: Library > Tools
  • What it does: Some game developers are generous enough to package additional software with their games, but in most cases, Steam doesn’t download that extra data automatically. To get it, check the Tools menu. Here you’ll find all of the modding and dedicated server software to which you have usage rights. This is where you get things like Skyrim’s Creation Kit, or Civilization V’s Software Development Kit, and it’s your first step toward making your own mods to upload to the Steam Workshop.


System Information


  • Where to find it: Help > System Information
  • What it does: Can’t remember how many gigabytes of RAM you’re running? Not sure how fast your processor is? All that and more can be found under System Information. Steam scours your hardware and software and presents a master list of whatever it can detect. It’s a little verbose, but definitely has what you need to know if you’re not sure whether you meet the system requirements for the latest games.




  • Where to find it: View > Players
  • What it does: The Players menu is where you’ll find a list of all the people with whom you’ve recently played in multiplayer games, both friend and stranger alike. Did you play an open game of Borderlands 2 and get grouped up with an especially cooperative team of players? Find their profiles here and send over a friend request. If you ran into a less savory crowd, you can take the initiative to block players here as well.


Download Preferences


  • Where to find it: Steam > Settings > Downloads
  • What it does: Did you just assume that you couldn’t download one Steam game while playing another at the same time? Not so! In the download settings menu, you can toggle on download while playing and entertain yourself while you wait for that big patch or DLC to install. You can also adjust automatic update time windows and download speeds here. This can be very helpful if bandwidth is scarce in your household and you need to make Steam’s behavior a lower priority.




  • Where to find it: For You > Browse All Recommended Tags
  • What it does: Steam’s Tags feature is still in beta, but players have been adding and assigning tags for months now. Mind you, this does mean there’s some trollish tagging going on. I’m not sure how Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch_Dogs qualifies as “kawaii” (the Japanese word for “cute”), for example, but lots of tags are being used productively. Choose one tag and click Browse All under the games to get an interface that lets you highlight multiple tags at once. You’ll never struggle to find Comedy First-Person Shooters ever again!


Family View


  • Where to find it: Steam > Settings > Family > Manage Family View
  • What it does: Family View allows you to set up a special instance of Steam with a reduced feature set to prevent curious kids from accessing things you’d rather they didn’t touch. Not only can you limit which games are playable in Family View, you can also lock out functions like shopping and chat. Once it’s set up, just look for the little pig-tailed rascal in the top right of your client. If she’s green, you’re in Family View. Click her and enter your four digit pin number to turn the icon red and unlock all your features.



New features are being patched into Steam all the time, and some are bound to fall out of the public eye. Get curious and explore! That one annoying quirk in the program that you thought you couldn’t change might just be a few clicks away from being nothing but a distant memory.


Have any other suggestions for tweaking Steam? Share them with our community in the comments below.

Want to take your Steam experience even further with other programs? Check these tools out 6 Useful Tools For Getting More Out Of Steam Games Steam is packed with a variety of useful features you may not be aware of, but third-party developers have made utilities and websites that add even more features to Steam. From moving installed games to... Read More !

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  1. Bob
    August 9, 2016 at 7:16 am


  2. Gray
    March 12, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for making this, I was always curious about how to know all of the system requirements and i learned so much more from reading this. Very helpful.

  3. Nathaniel
    February 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Don't forget the skins

  4. foofoo
    June 16, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    nothing new

  5. Jeff U
    May 20, 2014 at 6:18 am

    You're forgetting,you go and spend say £10-30 on a game and Steam servers are having problems again then it's a good chance you won't get to install the game never mind play it.If you don't allow Steam to update again there's a high chance that Steam won't allow you to play the game.Steam updates can mess up the game so that it doesn't play;EG-I have the Fear games 1,2,3 and two expansions,all bought new and from a legit game store but now because of Steam updates,some of the games won't play anymore because I get a message saying that they are not originals which is nonsense. Steam sometimes refuses to connect and there's nothing wrong with my Internet,Steam isn't being blocked by any installed software etc,,Steam trying to pan off Resident Evil 4 HD as greatly enhanced;what a load of crock.It's really minor difference and no way is it worth buying the HD version at the overpriced amount Steam is asking for it and that's just one of many overpriced games on Steam. Check out forums and you will find many complaints regarding Steam.Not all gamers love Steam,many hate it to extremes.Did I forget the overpriced game packs that may give your extra outfits,level or weapon which should be free since you went out your way and bought the game.These are just some-things Steam forgets to mention when it's slapping itself on the back and getting others to sing it's praises!

    • Jc E
      May 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I love how you're venting rage that should be aimed at developers/publishers, towards the platform. Do you also start ranting when you see that a store isn't selling Watch Dogs for $20 or €20? Because that's exactly what you're doing. You're yelling at the 'store', not the ones who set the price.

      Also note how you're not even actually aiming your opinion at a specific person, Steam is an platform and Valve is the owner and developer of it.

      "Steam trying to pan off Resident Evil 4 HD.. ..bought the game"
      This whole part isn't even valid criticism of the platform itself, because look at GameFly, GreenManGaming, GamersGate. They all sell it at the same price. Is this a conspiracy by Valve? The answer is: No! The price has been set by the publisher/developer. So if you want to make that a point, go complain with Capcom, who set the price without making it a worthy purchase. (Do note that the other two well known PC gaming platforms(Ubisoft's Uplay and EA's Origin) don't even have said game)

      I'm not sure about the other issues you're having, there's so many things that can be put into consideration that I'm not even going to bother. I'd suggest talking with customer service before complaining. They can actually be quite helpful.

      The ACTUAL criticism for Steam would be that technically speaking, you don't own any of the games you purchase, only licenses to play them. What does this mean? That Steam is the best platform, considering all options, but on an ethical stand point, GOG is a tad bit better. Hence I use both(Along with Desura because I got too many Desura games from bundles and they have tons of cool indies).

  6. Saturday S
    May 20, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Don't forget about In Home Streaming and Family Library Sharing, found in the settings when running "Big Mode"!

    • Wilhelm C
      May 20, 2014 at 2:26 am

      In Home Streaming is currently only available on the beta steam. Which is simple to get (go to setting and change the beta participation) and you don't need to be in Big Picture Mode to use it.

    • Robert W
      May 20, 2014 at 5:29 am

      Thanks for adding those, Saturday! Those features have gotten a little more public press, which is why I didn't include them here, but they're definitely features that many Steam users haven't yet tried out.