If you have an amply sized Steam library (like I do), then you might have considered sharing it with some close friends and family. Especially if you have games you might not have played yet.
After all, sharing is caring and you don’t want those games to go to waste. Luckily, Valve allows you to share your Steam Library (legally) with up to five people. In this guide, we’ll show you how.
How to Share Your Steam Library
In September of 2013, Valve introduced a way you could legally share your Steam library with your family. In reality, the feature was intended for parents who wanted to share their collections with their kids.
The family library sharing feature also allows you to test out games before purchasing them. However, it does have its limitations. As we’ve previously mentioned, only five accounts are allowed to access your Steam library from up to a maximum of ten computers.
You’ll obviously need an internet connection to access someone else’s shared library. However, because of licensing, not all games are shareable.
Only one user can access a shared game at a time. The owner of the game has first priority. What this means is that you won’t be able to play the shared game in multiplayer mode with those sharing it. This is unfortunate because some of the best co-op games can be found on Steam.
If you as the game owner, decide that you want to play the game while another user is playing it, then their session will be paused and they’ll be prompted to buy the game to continue the session or terminate it. If you find that you can’t afford a game you can always download one of Steam’s awesome free games or wait for a Steam sale.
In this guide, we’ll show you how you can legally share your games with other players through Steam’s family sharing option.
Sharing Your Steam Library Legally
Before you share your library, you need to ensure that Steam Guard is on. If you’re unfamiliar with what Steam Guard is, it’s Steam’s second level of access security. If you or someone else tries to log in from an unrecognized device, Steam will display a prompt requesting your Steam Guard pin.
Before you can enable Steam Guard, you need to ensure that you have a verified contact email.
How to Check if Your Steam Email Account is Verified
- Click on your profile/account name near the top left-hand corner of the screen and select Account Details from the menu.
- Scroll down until you reach the contact information section. Under your address, you’ll see Status which will show if your email address is verified or not.
If your contact information isn’t verified by Steam, you’ll need to verify it before you can set Steam Guard up.
Verify Your Email Address with Steam
- Click on the View or Steam menu item on the top left corner of the window.
- Click on Settings from the context menu.
- It should open up on the Account category by default. If it doesn’t, click on Account from the left side. Next, click on the button marked VERIFY EMAIL ADDRESS.
- Steam will display a set of prompts and instructions – follow them.
- You should then get a verification email message from Steam Support.
- Follow the instructions on the verification message and click on the unique link.
- This will take you to a web page that displays a confirmation message.
Once you’re done verifying your email address, you can turn Steam Guard on.
Enabling Steam Guard
- If you haven’t logged out since you’ve verified your email address, log out of your account and log in again.
- Open up Settings (View > Settings).
- Under the Account category, check your security status and ensure that it says that it’s Protected by Steam Guard.
- If not, then click on the MANAGE STEAM GUARD ACCOUNT SECURITY button.
- In the Manage Account Security window, make sure that the radio button labeled Keep my account protected by Steam Guard is selected then click on the button marked ‘NEXT >’
- On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to pick a friendly name for your computer. Set the name to whatever you think is appropriate and then click on Next.
- On the next screen, Steam will try to contact its server to turn Steam Guard on. As soon as the request is completed, the window will close.
After you’ve enabled Steam Guard, you can enable Steam’s family share feature.
Enable Steam’s Share Feature
- Log in to Steam on the computer you plan on sharing your games with.
- You’ll be sent an email message containing a special Steam guard code. Steam will prompt you to enter this special code.
- If you entered your security code successfully, a success message will appear.
- Open Settings (View/Steam > Settings).
- On the category panel on the left side of the screen, click on Family.
- On the main window, click on the checkbox marked Authorize Library Sharing on the computer.
- Under eligible accounts, you can select which family members or friends you want to share your library with.
- Restart Steam. Your friend or relative can now log into their account where they’ll be able to download and play your games from their library.
When downloading your friend or relative’s games, make sure that you have sufficient space on your storage device. You don’t want to run into a Steam not enough disk space error.
Once again, it’s important to note that you have to be online to play games shared with you. Games like iRacing, which is considered one of the best racing games on Steam, require a subscription. It should go without saying but you can’t share games that follow a subscription-based pay model.
One of the biggest risks of sharing your library is that your account may be banned and your family sharing privileges may be canceled if your library is used to conduct fraud or even cheating.
In this guide, we explored how you could share your Steam library with your friends, using a feature that Valve officially integrated into Steam’s interface. I hope that you’ve found the steps in this guide clear and easy to follow. If you want to point out a blind spot on our side, please leave a comment down below. If you have any issues with Steam connectivity, visit our page on how to fix your Steam downloads. Either way, thank you for reading.