How to Change the Game Download Location in Steam
Steam may be facing stiff competition from Epic and Uplay, but it is still a solid place to go for games right now. As digital downloads have gradually taken over for game discs, Steam makes managing hundreds of games simple. But what happens when you fill up your storage? Can you change the game location in Steam? Can you move games to a different drive?
While Steam does an excellent job of managing your library, you can control where games get installed and even move them if you upgrade your storage or want different locations.
Changing Game Locations in Steam
For games that come on a disc, their size limit gets based on storage capacity. The games require updates that get stored on a drive. Downloaded games are massively huge, but all files easily fit on hard drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) in one central location—with minor exceptions, of course. It’s not unusual for a game to take up 60-120GB of storage, and with downloadable content (DLC), add-ons, mods, and save files, storage is very much at a premium.
Steam creates a game storage folder by default but does let you choose where it makes it. You can also create different game folders within Steam and have them in other locations to suit your needs. Here’s how to do it.
- Launch Steam, then click on “Steam -> Preferences” at the top.
- Select “Downloads” from the navigational menu on the left.
- Under the “Content Libraries” section, click on “STEAM LIBRARY FOLDERS.”
- In the “STORAGE MANAGER” window that appears, add a new folder to download/install your games. Click the “+” icon.
- Browse for a new folder and click on “SELECT” to add it. You can also add a new folder by clicking on the folder where you want a new one to reside and select “NEW FOLDER.”
Now, whenever you add a new game, Steam will prompt you for the location to download and install it.
How to Move Game Downloads of Existing Steam Games
Many Steam users find that they run out of space on the currently used partition of existing storage or need to replace the drive due to failure or upgrade it to get more space. If Steam already exists and you already have games there, you can move them if you want. Here are some ways to change game download locations in Steam.
There is a clunky way to move your games and a sensible one. As I tried both, I’ll describe both. This first way is the inexact way, but it works.
- For a replacement drive or upgraded drive, have your operating system recognize the new device and format it. Mac uses the Apple File System (APFS) and Windows uses the New Technology File System (NTFS).
- In the existing games location, remove any games you no longer need installed to make the entire process faster.
- Copy your Steam folder to the new drive.
- Start Steam, let it load, and select a game.
- Right click the game and select “Properties.”
- Select “Local Files” and “Verify Integrity of Local Files.”
- Select the new location for Steam when it says it cannot find local files.
Copying your Steam folder will take a while, which is why it makes sense to remove any games you don’t need. This solution doesn’t work with every game, so you may want to uninstall it from Steam and reinstall it in the new location. You won’t have to download the files again. You can have Steam identify the game and add it to your library.
A better way to move games to a new drive is by creating a new games folder in that drive.
How to Create a New Games Folder in Steam
Creating a new Steam game folder is arguably a better way to move games to other locations. The process is built into Steam and means you can add games wherever you want. This method is a better solution for changing a game’s folder because it doesn’t require you to uninstall and rediscover games within Steam.
- In Steam, click on “Menu” at the top and select “Settings.”
- Choose “Downloads,” then “Steam Library Folders” from the center.
- Select “Add Library Folder” and point it to your new games location.
- Name your folder and select it to add it to your “Games Library.”
How to Move Games between Steam Game Folders
Once you have multiple folders, you can move games between them. If you have added an extra drive to fit more games, you can add your new folder to the new drive and move games between them. Here’s how.
- Select the game, right click and select “Properties.”
- Choose “Local Files,” then “Move Install Folder.”
- Select your new games folder and choose “Move Folder.”
This process retains all Steam links for the move and won’t interfere with saved games or other settings.
Combine Multiple Disks as One Partition in Windows 10 for Steam Games
If you add a new drive to your system, rather than moving games, extend the volume to include the existing game drive and the new one. Both Windows and Steam see a single partition, but it becomes spanned over two different HDDs or SSDs. You can do this multiple times, and it is a straightforward way to manage disk space. Here’s how to do it.
- Add your new drive to your computer and have Windows format it.
- Select any drive in Windows Explorer, right click and select “Manage.”
- Select “Disk Management” from the left of the new window.
- Convert your game disks from “Basic” to “Dynamic” by right clicking and selecting “Convert to Dynamic Disk.”
- Select your original games disk, right click it, then select “Extend.”
- Select the new disk in the new window and click on “Add.”
- Enter a size of your new partition on the right and select “Next.”
- Click on “Finish” to commit your changes.
The above process is a much more elegant way to manage games in Steam. You can theoretically add more disks when you fill them up and expand the partition as far as you like!