Sharing your game library with members of your family is one of Steam’s most useful features. However, many users, especially those less experienced on the platform, are unaware of this feature or don’t know how to use it.
This guide contains everything you need to know about the library sharing feature on Steam. If you want to learn more about how to configure it, keep reading.
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What Is Steam Family Library Sharing?
As sharing your account and password with other people is against Steam’s policy, Steam developers have implemented a feature that makes it possible to share your library without providing your login information and credentials.
Enabling Steam Family Share is a safe and convenient way to let a family member enjoy one or more of your games without needing to make purchases themselves.
However, some users have reported that they found the process to be somewhat confusing and inconvenient.
Configuring Steam Library Sharing
“How to share Steam library” is a frequent search by users of the platform, a sign that the process is not self-explanatory.
The step-by-step guide below will show you how to share your library, from start to finish.
Note: Having Steam Guard active on your account is a must. Be sure to configure it before following the steps below.
- Open the Steam client and log in to your account.
- Click Steam in the top-left corner and then Settings in the dropdown menu.
- The main settings panel will appear on your screen. Click Family and then tick the box next to “Authorize Library Sharing on this computer” option, as indicated in the image below.
- You will now see a list of eligible accounts with which you can share your library. Select an account, or multiple accounts, then complete the process by clicking the “OK” button at the bottom.
If you and the person with whom you want to share your library don’t use the same computer, it is still possible to grant them access. In that case, the person requesting access should do the following:
- Log into your Steam account. Ensure Steam Guard is enabled.
- If you have previously authorized your account on the computer your family member uses, you will be able to see their games in your library. Select the game that you want to have shared with you and click “Play” to open a window where you can request access.
- This will send an e-mail to the game owner with a link they can click to grant you access to the game. You might need to tell them about this via other means, if they are known to rarely check their inbox.
If you grant the borrower access to your library, they can play your games. However, there are some key things you need to know.
Crucial Things To Know About Steam Family Sharing
Steam accounts can be very valuable, particularly if the account owner has cultivated a large game collection over several years.
With that in mind, there are a few serious points you need to consider about library-sharing.
- If the person you share the library with cheats in a game or commits an act of fraud, your account will likely be banned, regardless of whether or not you were responsible for those actions. Steam support has no way of knowing who is to blame and there can be serious consequences, especially if a VAC ban is used, which is permanent and irreversible.
- As the owner of your account, you are responsible for any actions taken by others while they play your shared titles.
- You and a family member cannot play using the same account at the same time, even if you want to play different games.
- If you already have a VAC ban on your account, you won’t be able to share any games that use Valve’s Anti Cheat system (VAC).
Finally, if you’re sharing a game with downloadable content, the borrower will be able to use the DLC, but only if they don’t own the base game. If they also own the base game, they will need to purchase the DLC themselves to use it.
For more information on this topic, take the time to read Steam’s official guide addressing Family Library Sharing and more.
Disabling Family Sharing
If you want to disable this feature at any time, the process is almost identical to how you enabled it earlier. Return to the panel where you enabled Steam Family Share, then de-select the user accounts to which you granted access.
You can also de-authorize computers via the web if you can’t access the client or find it quicker and more convenient this way.
Now you know how to share your Steam library with a family member. Next time they want to try a game but can’t afford it for themselves at the moment, this allows you to help them out.
Please note that, after confirming the library share, the borrower might need to restart their Steam client to view the list of available titles.
If you encounter any issues, you can read this section where Steam addresses common problems and answers FAQs regarding the Family Sharing feature.