Level up your Steam game: Tips and tricks to get more out of Valve

For PC gamers Valve’s digital game platform is a great place for finding gaming bargains, discovering new games, keeping track of upcoming titles and more.

There’s so much more to Steam than first meets the eye though, including a wealth of features you might not have even realised existed.

So stick with us to find out what these are and how you could use them to level-up your gaming.

personalised game recommendations

Get personalised game recommendations

Steam is really good at recommending games and trying to get you to part with your hard-earned money. You’ll often find good-quality game recommendations on the store homepage, via the discovery queue and even through the best-sellers list.

Did you know that there’s a recommendation engine that you can use to filter things down even further and that these recommendations are then based on your playtime with other games?

To access this:

  • Load up Steam and head to the homepage of the storefront
  • Hover over “Your Store” in the top navigation (where the search box is)
  • Click on “Interactive Recommender”
  • Browse through games based on recommendations

There are a number of filters that you can choose to apply here to adjust what you’re seeing in these personalised recommendations. You can filter by age, for example, so you only see new games, adjust it so you see more or less popular recommendations and apply tags too.

If you want to see just co-op games, for example, you can do that. Aren’t a fan of a particular genre? You can turn that off too. You can also exclude games that are already on your wishlist.

games you both own

Find games to play with your friends

Sometimes it can be a struggle to find games to play but it can be even harder to find games that you can play with your friends.

Especially if one of you is strapped for cash or if you’re looking for something to play together but aren’t really sure what’s available.

Luckily Steam makes it possible to filter your library and see games that you both own. So you can easily see at a glance whether you even have the same games available to play and thereby narrow your options without having to psychically ask your friend to manually dig through their accounts.

To do this is also really simple:

  1. Open up Steam
  2. Click on friends in the top menu and then click view friends
  3. Find the relevant person you want to play with
  4. Right-click and click “Find Games to Play Together”
  5. Alternatively, click “view profile”, then click on “games” and then click the option to “filter to games you both own”
Games to play with friends 2

The great thing about this tool is if you’re struggling with figuring out what to play you can filter the view to include games by a particular genre, whether the game is currently installed or not, co-op and multiplayer options and more.

Of course, you’ve still got to make sure you’re both in the same mood, but this process makes it much easier.

How to stream PC games to another device photo 1

Stream Steam games to other devices

If you’ve got a fast home Wi-Fi network then one of the other highlights of Steam is the ability to Stream games to other devices so you can play PC games while you’re away from your gaming machine.

We’ve written an in-depth guide about this in the past, but it opens up a world of gaming in your home because you can stream games to all sorts of things. Play on everything including your Apple iPhone to Android phones and tablets, Raspberry Pi, Apple TV and more besides.

If you also have a Steam Deck then doing this can be worthwhile in other ways because it saves the processing power of your handheld console and instead harnesses your PC. So you’ll have a higher FPS and a smoother gaming experience, even when playing remotely.

steam download servers

Tweak your Steam download settings

If you’re experiencing slow Steam downloads where your games are taking a while to come down from the cloud then there are various steps you can take to improve those speeds.

On the flip side, there are other things that you can tweak under these settings if you have great Wi-Fi or fast home broadband with an ethernet connection. For example, you can allow downloads while you’re playing games, so you’ve got something to do while you’re waiting for your new game to download.

  1. Open Steam
  2. Click on the Steam menu on the top left
  3. Under settings look for “Downloads” and click that
  4. Select the options in here to allow downloads or throttle downloads if you’re streaming games to another device

Play around with these settings until you find the right ones for you.

Steam Deck Game transfer 2

Transfer Steam games locally

So you know it’s possible to download games on Steam, stream them from one device to another and more. But did you know that you can also transfer Steam games locally on your home network?

If you’ve got a game download on your gaming PC and then want to also play it on your Steam Deck (without streaming it) or on a laptop or on a friend’s PC, then you can transfer games across without having to re-download it.

There are a few things to note about it:

  • Both Steam clients must be online and see each other directly on the same LAN (no downloads while either Steam client is in offline-mode)
  • Game File Transfer settings on both devices must allow a transfer (e.g. if both have “Friends only” set, they must be Steam friends)
  • Game content can only be transferred out if the transferring Steam client is idle, e.g. no downloads or games running.
  • The game needs to released to the public and playable by both Steam users (no preloads)
  • The game needs to be up-to-date on the PC sending the game files
  • Only a PC running in Steam desktop mode can send files. So Steam Decks, PCs in Big Picture mode, and custom launchers can currently not transfer files out over the local network.
  • In some instances, it might also be slower to transfer files than to just download the game. Especially if you have fast broadband. But it is an option.
ignore these games

Hide a game from your Steam recommendations

If you’re constantly getting recommended a popular game on the Steam store but you’ve already played it elsewhere or just aren’t interested in it, then you can hide it.

Click on the game in question in the store to open its store page and then click ignore. From there you can then select the option that applies.

You’ll see you can hide the game from the store if you’ve played it on another platform. This is perfect in our example here as we regularly get Red Dead Redemption 2 recommended to us, especially during Steam sales because it’s so popular, but we’ve already played it via Rockstar’s game launcher.


Customise your Discovery queue

It’s also possible to customise what you see when you click through the Discovery queue too.

This can help when you’re lost for games to play and need some recommendations but don’t want to keep seeing anime and horror games for example.

To do this click on the Store menu at the top of Steam and then click to access the Discovery queue. Once there you’ll see an option to “customise your queue”, click that and you can then tweak which things are shown but you can also add tags of things you don’t want to see.

This is particularly useful as Steams tagging system is really detailed, so you can eliminate even niche genres like games with pixel graphics or free-to-play games if those aren’t your thing.

uninstall multiple games at once

Uninstall multiple games at once

If you’re trying to free up space on your computer did you know that it’s possible to uninstall multiple games at once with relative ease?

  • Go to your Steam library
  • Press CTRL and click on all the games you want to get rid of
  • Right-click on one of the selected games then click manage and uninstall

This will uninstall all the games you selected and you won’t need to do one at a time.

This also works the other way as you can install multiple games at once as well. Just follow the same steps as above and click install games when ready. Easy. This is perfect if you’re setting up a new PC and readying your game library for fun.

games taking up space

Sort out your storage space issues

If you find that you’re running out of space on your PC or on a particular game drive then Steam offers up a solution to make your life easier. With a few clicks it’s possible to see which games are taking up the most space so you can make room. This is handy because you don’t need to click through various games in your library to suss it out.

  • Open Steam and click on the Steam menu
  • Click settings
  • Click on the “downloads” option
  • From there click on Steam Library Folders
  • Click on the relevant drive

You can then see at a glance how many games are installed, how much space they’re taking up and a handy reminder of when you last played the game.

This is a fantastic way to see which games you can uninstall to quickly free up storage space. You can also see the largest games and how much space your games library is taking up on that drive.

How to refund a game on Steam photo 2

Request a refund for a Steam game

One of the best features of Steam is likely one that Valve doesn’t want us to harp on about and that’s Steam’s refund policy.

Steam has a great option for refunding games if you’ve made a mistake and bought something you shouldn’t have. We’ve written a guide about this before, but essentially it gives you the ability to request a refund for a game as long as you haven’t played more than two hours of it and request the refund within 14 days of purchasing.

This is perfect if you’ve bought a game then found it’s full of bugs, won’t run on your PC or is just awful for another reason. Valve is also really reasonable about this, so as long as you don’t abuse the system you can buy with confidence and refund when necessary.

Steam sale opportunities

If you’ve just recently bought a game and then have seen that it’s suddenly available for far less in the Steam sale then you might have wondered if you can get the difference back. Valve says no. However, the company does say that it’s fine to request a refund for the game in the normal way (assuming you need the criteria) and then buy the game again at the sale price.

As if all these other features weren’t awesome enough, Steam also has the option to share your games with family members.

With a few simple steps you can authorise another gaming PC to have access to your games library. So when you’re not playing games, the other machine can, even when another user is logged in. This is perfect for letting your kids play with your library while you work or for just having several machines without having to buy the games multiple times. You can’t abuse this feature of course, but it’s still brilliant.

Download games remotely

Did you know that Steam offers you the option to download games remotely?

If your gaming PC or laptop is turned on with Steam running but you’re away from your keyboard you can still use your phone or even another browser to find games in your library and set them to download and install on your machine.

Just load up the Steam mobile app or log in to Steam in a browser, navigate to your Steam library and click the game then remote download.

This is ideal if you’ve just bought a new game and want to get it ready to play before you’re back at your computer.

Steam Guard_1.3.1

Secure your Steam account with Steam Guard

Chances are you’ve got a hefty collection of PC games in your Steam account. Hopefully, you are securing them with a decent password and/or password manager. But it’s also worth using Steam Guard as well.

Steam Guard offers an additional level of protection to your Steam account. Essentially it’s a two-factor authentication tool like Google Authenticator. But it has other uses as well because you can use it to scan QR codes to log in to other devices really quickly – like a Steam Deck or another gaming PC for example. So it’s well worth setting up.

  • Open Steam on your PC
  • Click on the Steam menu and open settings
  • Click on account
  • Click “manage Steam Guard account security”
  • Follow the instructions to set it up
Middle mouse click steam store

Middle mouse click games

If you’re browsing through the Steam sales and see multiple things that you want to look at in one go you can push the middle mouse button in and open the game in another Window. You can do this multiple times which is ideal for quickly wishlisting, browsing or buying games without losing track of what you’re doing.

Steam Beta

Join the Steam Beta

Steam regularly gets some pretty awesome updates that are worth trying. If you like being an early adopter then you can always join the beta. It’s easy to do as well. Just open up Steam, click into the settings menu and look for the beta opt-in options.

You’ll see there’s a drop-down for “beta participation” just click that and select Steam Beta update. When you click ok you’ll then be prompted to restart Steam and maybe download an update.

Steam FPS counter

Use the FPS counter

If you’re anything like us then you probably like to keep an eye on your FPS when playing games and sometimes try to squeeze out more performance too. Luckily Steam makes it really easy to keep an eye on this sort of thing with its own built-in FPS counter.

You can turn this on easily:

  • Open Steam and click on the Steam menu
  • Click on settings
  • Click on in-game settings
  • Look for “in-game FPS counter” and click the drop-down to select your preferred location
  • When you next start a game you should see the counter
steam download problems

Fix download speed issues

We’ve already talked about tweaking your Steam download settings and written a detailed guide on fixing slow game downloads on Steam but sometimes your speeds may drop to zero.

What do you do then? There are a few things you can try:

  • Try pausing and restarting your downloads – you’ll find a button in the downloads section on Steam that allows you to pause your downloads. Click that and then click to restart.
  • Turn it off and on again – Click into the taskbar and find Steam then exit it. Once it is fully shut try opening it again and restarting the download
  • Check your internet connection – Double check your connection hasn’t dropped as a whole. Is your internet ok? Check you can reach sites in a browser.
  • Check for downtime – maybe the problem is with Steam itself. See if there are any reports of Steam being down.
  • Clear your download cache – open up Steam’s settings and go to the downloads settings and press the “clear download cache” button
  • Flush your DNS – if all else fails try flushing your DNS cache on Windows.