How to Install Steam on a Chromebook
Chromebooks are lightweight in hardware, allowing you to easily carry them around. However, this also means that they’re not the best gaming devices, due to the weaker graphics options on board. That being said, nothing is stopping you from installing Steam on your Chromebook.
If you’re interested in learning how to install Steam on Chromebook, you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ll learn all there is to know about the process. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions on Chromebooks.
How to Install Steam on a Chromebook
Installing Steam on a Chromebook can be tricky since there are a few things to consider;
- Can your Chromebook support Linux?
One of our methods for installing Steam on a Chromebook requires that your machine support Linux apps. This will let you install Steam as a Linux app, and you can launch your games and play them as you would on a PC. If your Chromebook can’t support Linux, then this method won’t work at all.
- Is the Chromebook powerful enough?
Even if your Chromebook somehow runs Linux apps without an issue, the hardware might not let you play games. The Chromebook is simply not equipped to run graphics-intensive games. You need a higher-tier Chromebook to ensure your games won’t overload the hardware.
- Can your Chromebook run Android apps?
If you can’t run Linux apps, you can still use your Chromebook to run Steam via the Steam Link app. This method is quite limited and requires better graphics than the Linux app method. What’s more, you can’t take the Chromebook with you since it has to connect to a proper PC to run games.
If your Chromebook satisfies at least two of these requirements, then you should be able to install Steam on your Chromebook. Let’s take a look at the first method.
Installing the Steam Linux App
After Steam was officially supported by Linux, it allowed Linux PC owners to enjoy their games. For Chromebooks, the process was also simplified. Earlier, Chromebooks required a set of scripts called Crouton to run Linux in parallel to Chrome OS.
Today, the need for installing Crouton and getting into Developer Mode is over. Since 2019, all Chromebooks are Linux compatible out of the box. As such, it makes the process of installing Steam a lot easier.
That said, Chromebooks don’t come with hardware suited for gaming, and there are times when it’s a marvel if a game on Steam runs. Therefore, if a game doesn’t work, don’t force it.
All you need to do is follow these steps to install the Linux Steam App:
- On your Chromebook, find your Settings menu.
- If your Chromebook supports Linux, you can find the option at the bottom of the screen.
- Select “Turn On” on the right.
- When a new window pops up, select “Install.”
- Let your Chromebook handle the installation process.
- When done, you can type “
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y” in the Linux Terminal to update Linux to the latest build.
- Download the Linux Steam App.
- Move the DEB file to your Linux folder through the Files app.
- Double-click the DEB file and install it.
- When done, you can locate the file and launch Steam.
- After updating, you can sign in.
It’s recommended that you enable the microphone and GPU acceleration for Linux on your Chromebook to enhance your gaming experience. Not all Chromebooks have the feature to accelerate their GPUs, so you’ll have to check if yours can. You also don’t have to turn on the microphone if your games don’t need it, though a microphone does help with games like ‘’Among Us.’’
After you’re done installing Steam and logging in, you should enable a setting called “Steam Play For Other Titles” since it lets you play Windows games not natively on Linux.
- On Steam, go to the Settings menu.
- Select “Play.”
- Select “Enable Steam Play for Other Titles.”
You should now be able to enjoy many of your Steam games. Granted, the extremely hardware-intensive games likely won’t run on your Chromebook, but simpler games should work just fine, depending on your Chromebook’s specs.
Installing Ubuntu Linux OS on Your Chromebook
This is an older method that requires you to go into Developer Mode. If you’re not a fan of Chrome OS and want to run Ubuntu, by all means, try it out. Steam is natively compatible with Ubuntu, so installing it won’t be an issue.
If you want to follow this method, the steps are:
- Turn your Chromebook off.
- Press the combination for entering Developer Mode, usually ‘’Esc + Refresh + Power’’ buttons.
- In Recovery Mode, press ‘’Ctrl + D.’’
- When confronted with the “Turn OS Verification Off” press Enter.
- Press ‘’Ctrl + D’’ to continue, and from now on, a warning will appear when you reboot again.
- Download Crouton here.
- Press ‘’Ctrl + Alt + T’’ to open Shell.
- Type “
shell” then press the Enter key.
- Next, type “
sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity” and confirm with the Enter key.
- Let the computer install Ubuntu.
- When done, go back to Ubuntu by typing “
sudo startunity” in Shell.
- Type “
sudo apt install steam” and wait until the process is complete.
- You can then login and start playing.
Keep in mind that this process will wipe your Chromebook. Before undertaking the Ubuntu installation process, you should back up everything that’s in your local drive. Most Chromebooks store data on the cloud, so that information should be fine.
If both of the options above aren’t for you, we have a third alternative. It might be more limited, but it’s still effective.
Using the Steam Link App
The Steam Link app is basically an app that connects your Chromebook to a stronger PC. You’ll experience some lag since you’re streaming gameplay to your Chromebook, but it works if the other methods fail. Your Chromebook has to support Android apps, however.
Thankfully, many of the latest ones do. If you’re interested in this method, here’s how you do it:
- Install Steam Link on your Chromebook.
- Launch Steam on your PC.
- Launch Steam Link on your Chromebook.
- Select “Start Playing.”
Sadly, Steam Link has a few limitations you’ll have to accept.
- Picky about controllers
Steam Link is very finicky with the controllers it supports. The controller has to be Bluetooth-enabled and supported by Steam Link. Because of this, many third-party controllers tend not to work for you if you use Steam Link.
- You can’t game remotely
You’re stuck to being near the main PC. Since you’re connecting to it, the only way to have a reliable connection is to be in the same room.
- Wi-Fi speeds affect performance
If your internet speed is poor, then you won’t be able to stream the game to your Chromebook smoothly. You need to have a strong connection to enjoy your games.
- Poor visual quality
The streamed video game is already compressed, and your Chromebook might not even be Full HD. Unless you’re okay with it, the graphics are going to look lackluster on your Chromebook. Its screen won’t be able to compare with many gaming monitors out there.
However, if you’re set on using the Steam Link method, you can still play games on your Chromebook.
Play Steam Games On the Go
These steps and information will help you to install Steam on a Chromebook. Make sure your Chromebook is new and powerful enough, or else no amount of tinkering can help you. Streaming is decent but not ideal since the quality is usually terrible.
What part of installing Steam did you find difficult? Do you enjoy playing Steam games on a Chromebook? Let us know in the comments section below.