How To Share Your Steam Library With Friends and Family
Dedicated Steam users amass large catalogs of games in their libraries, but in the past, there was no way to share them. Today, the Family Library Sharing feature allows gamers to enable others access to their libraries. Once a person is authorized, they can play most of your games.
While sharing games with friends and family seems simple, there are some conditions and limitations. Read on to find out how sharing works.
Sharing Your Steam Library With Friends and Family
Family Library Sharing lets one user authorize up to 10 devices at any time. On any of these devices, up to five accounts may choose games from your game Library to play. Here’s how to enable sharing.
- Log into your Steam account on the computer you want to authorize.
- Go to the Settings menu.
- Head to “Account” and check if Steam Guard is enabled.
- If not, verify your email address with Steam.
- Go to the “Family” tab.
- Check the “Authorize Library Sharing On This Computer” button.
- In the list below the sharing option, check the boxes for accounts you want to share with.
Once you perform these steps and save your settings, other Steam users can access your Library and play games you own.
You can also request access to get another person’s Library.
- Enable Steam Guard on your account.
- If another person uses the same computer to play games, you can see their Steam account games in your Library.
- Click on that game and select “Request access” to request access.
- The owner must then open their email to click or tap on the authorization link.
- You should now have access to the game.
You may choose to buy the game too, but it’s not necessary if your friend doesn’t mind you accessing their Library.
Family Library Sharing can work with users who don’t live with you, but there may be a risk because Steam might not be able to provide support.
The computer must have a stable internet connection to play shared games. Steam forces this feature to prevent two users from playing one game simultaneously. If both people attempt to launch the same game, something will happen.
The Library owner has priority access to the games. If an authorized person is still playing, they’ll get a message to quit or purchase the game themselves. This rule applies to every game the owner has, even if they want to play another title.
Don’t panic if you suddenly can’t play a title. It’s because the owner is accessing their account right then. You only have to wait until they’re done gaming.
Family Library Sharing Features and Caveats
While sharing games is excellent, there are other things to remember. It’s not all fun and games when you notice something isn’t playable.
All its contents are fair game for the authorized people when sharing a Library. In other words, it’s all or nothing when you decide to open the Library to friends and family. Steam doesn’t allow you to grant access to specific titles selectively.
Owners who own the DLC will also share the DLC, but only if the authorized guest themselves doesn’t have the base game. For example, if you own The Sims 4 and the extra content, your friend doesn’t get to access all of it if they also have the base game.
Games that require paid subscriptions are not shareable. If a game also needs a third-party account or key to function, it doesn’t qualify for Family Library Sharing.
There are more reasons you’ll find a game isn’t shareable. For example:
- The game has free DLC.
- The game doesn’t support the guest’s operating system.
- The owner is a Steamworks partner account and automatically has certain titles, making them unshareable.
- The guest already has the game.
Some games are region-restricted. Even if you share a Library with a friend in a restricted country, they still can’t access them without changing their location digitally. The best way to do so is with a VPN service.
While not likely, it’s possible someone you shared a Library with can use your games to cheat or commit fraud. In this case, Steam has the right to VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) ban your account and restrict sharing privileges. VAC-banned games don’t become shareable even if your account isn’t totally restricted.
The main advantage of Library sharing is letting others try something out before buying it. You also let them play titles you don’t play often. Even though Family Library Sharing isn’t perfect, many find it convenient and helpful.
Let Me Play
With Steam’s Family Library Sharing function, you can let friends and family play games they don’t own. There are several conditions and limits, but the experience is overwhelmingly positive. Sharing is one way to let others try games too.
How many games do you have in your Steam Library? How do you think Steam can improve its sharing feature? Let us know in the comments section below.