How can I share my Steam library with my friends?

Share your Steam library
Share your precious games with up to five friends

Gaming can be an expensive business, particularly if you’re after the latest, greatest titles. However, there is an in-built tool for sharing games with your friends – without all of you splashing out for them. Here, we explain how to share your Steam library.

The Steam Family Sharing feature allows you to grant permission for five fortunate friends to access your game library. However, enabling it takes a lot of logging in and out. Also, be warned that there a couple of hefty downsides, which we cover after the step-by-step guide.

How to share your Steam library

  1. After you’ve logged into Steam, make sure that you’ve enabled Steam Guard, the software’s built-in security tool. Go to Settings (or Preferences, if you’re using a Mac) | Account | Manage Steam Guard Account Security to make sure it’s turned on.
  2. Once that’s done, go back to the Settings/Preferences menu and click on the Family tab. Under Family Library Sharing, tick the “Authorize Library Sharing on this computer” box. Share Steam library
  3. This will bring up a table with two columns marked Share and Eligible Accounts. Unless you already have multiple accounts on the same computer, the table will be blank. If it’s automatically populated with family members’ usernames, however, you can choose to share your games with them by clicking the tickbox next to their username. Share Steam library
  4. This is where your friends come in. To let them play your games on your PC and create their own saves, get them to log into their Steam account and out again. Once you’ve logged back in, their username should appear in the table above, where you can tick the relevant box to share your games.
  5. However, a far more practical option is to allow your friends to play your games on their own PCs (*cough* tightwads *cough*. Who said that?). To do so, you’ll have to go around their houses, log into Steam on their computer, go to Settings | Family and click the “Authorize This Computer” option. You can repeat this process for up to five Steam accounts or ten devices.

The (big) downsides

If that all sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is: there are a couple of hefty downsides to sharing your treasured Steam library with your chums.

First, not all games can be shared and you also won’t be able to access extras such as achievements and paid-for expansions – which, to be honest, is fair enough.

Secondly, and not quite as fairly, none of you can play at the same time. So, if a lucky friend is deep into your copy of the new Call of Duty and you come online, they will be given the option to either buy the game or have five minutes’ grace to save and get out, sheepishly closing the door behind them. Consequently, it’s always worth agreeing on time slots beforehand to avoid arguments.

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Max Figgett

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