Steam Won’t Open – Here’s How to Fix

Steam is a gaming platform that does a whole lot more than just organize your game library. It sells, updates, and supports games of all kinds as well as provides the Steam Workshop for mods. While it does have its faults, Steam is definitely the best games platform around right now. But what do you do if Steam won’t open? How can you play when Steam won’t work?

Steam Won't Open - Here's How to Fix

Troubleshooting Steam Startup Problems

Steam is undoubtedly more reliable and more stable than ever before but errors still occasionally occur. One common issue is when nothing happens when you hit the Steam icon. Another is when the Bootstrapper starts and then closes without loading the program. Both can be annoying as it is a few precious gaming minutes wasted trying to get it to work.

Reboot Your Computer

The first fix to try if Steam won’t open is to reboot your computer. It should be one of the first things you try on any computer for any program issue. Reboot and retry.

Check for Steam Processes

If that doesn’t work or you don’t want to reboot just yet, check running processes. There may be a Steam process running already that won’t let a new instance of Steam run properly.

  1. Right-click an empty space on your Windows Task Bar and select Task Manager, you can also use Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

  2. Check for the Steam Client Bootstrapper and Steam Client Service. If you see them running, right-click and select End Task.

  3. Retry Steam.

Check for System Updates

In some cases, you might have issues opening Steam if your OS is out of date. Follow these steps to check for system updates:

  1. In Windows 10, click on the Start menu and select Settings.

    Windows Start Menu
  2. Then, click on Update & Security.
    Windows Settings Menu
  3. Now, at the top of the screen, click on Check for updates.

    Windows Update Menu

Stop Your Antivirus or Firewall for a Retest

If you’re using an Antivirus or firewall software, that may be causing the issue. Check to see if your firewall or antivirus program may have updated itself behind the scenes and be interfering with Steam. Stop the antivirus first and retry. Then stop the firewall and retry that. If Steam works, it’s the security software interfering. If nothing changes, move on.

Check Your VPN

Steam usually plays nicely with VPNs but not always. When I first installed mine, Steam just would not work. I think it had to do with the fact I had logged in for years in one location and suddenly logged in somewhere else. Maybe it’s a security feature, maybe it isn’t. Either way, if you run a VPN, or have installed a new one, turn it off for a minute and retry.

Try Steam Offline

Offline Steam is for those times when you don’t have internet or don’t want to be seen online. Logging in and using it locally can sometimes allow you to play your games if Steam loads as far as the UI before crashing out. It won’t help much if you’re planning a clan raid or something social but it narrows down the problem if it works.

Presuming Steam loads into the UI before crashing, try this:

  1. Open Steam and select Steam from the top menu. 

  2. Select Go Offline and select Restart Steam in Offline Mode.

  3. Retest.

Reinstall Steam

If the steps mentioned above didn’t work, you only really have two things left to try, reinstalling Steam or reinstalling Windows. As it is Steam not working and not Windows, let us try Steam first. Hopefully, if we download and install a new client over the existing one, we will still retain access to all your games without having to reinstall those too.

  1. Visit the Steam page and download a fresh client.

  2. Install it in the same location as your existing install.

  3. Allow the process to complete and then try to log in.

Hopefully, whatever the issue was will have been overwritten by fresh install files and Steam will work properly again.

Steam Powered

It’s always a hassle when you can’t play your favorite games on your PC, but luckily it’s easy to resolve. In a few short minutes you can be on your way to making the leaderboards in no time.

Were you able to fix the issue? Do you know of another way to fix Steam client issues? Feel free to share your experience with others in comments below.

9 thoughts on “Steam Won’t Open – Here’s How to Fix”

Travis says:
I started having this issue about a month ago (March 2023). I am able to get around it by just restarting my PC (even if I just turned it on). I have tried all of the recommended troubleshooting steps to no avail. Hopefully there is a resolution to this issue soon.
I will not that I am on Windows 11 with and AMD CPU and Nvidia GPU… shouldn’t matter much, but there it is.
Sean says:
I’ve been having the this issue for well over a year. The problem is that restarting my PC only works maybe 1/2 of the time. I’ve wiped my entire HDD just to see if it would work. Literally the first thing I did after reinstalling Windows & updating my drives was reinstall Steam. The same exact issue persists. Makes me f’n livid sometimes.
HomeSlice says:
I have tried all of these and nothing is working. I moved Steam from C Drive to D drive because i don’t have much space on my boot drive (C drive). I was able to play it yesterday after that but today I cannot even open it. It just opens up a dialog box and it just blinks non-stop and never opens. I can’t play any of my games. I don’t know what the heck is going on.
Peter says:
When I attempted to open Steam today, it updated. From then on all that I have got is a small black screen. I rebooted. Same. I uninstalled and reinstalled. Same.
Jayden says:
Uninstalling then reinstalling is what I found to of worked
Peter says:
I wrote that I tried that, so a repeat of what I have already tried does no help much.

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