Fix: Steam Overlay Not Working

Steam is great when it's working but that's not always the case. If your Steam overlay is not working, we have the fix for you right here.

Steam is more than just a gaming application, as the client includes many features that make the user experience more enjoyable and intuitive. These features set Steam apart from many of its competitors.  

One of these features is the Steam Overlay, which can be used to perform various tasks on the platform.

Steam Overlay Features
Some of the features available in Steam’s overlay

Given the importance of this feature, the overall experience on Steam is impacted significantly when it stops working.

This guide provides all the methods you need to fix the Steam Overlay and ensure you can use it properly again.

Table of ContentsShow

The Problem With Steam’s Overlay Not Working Explained

Many Steam users play multiplayer games, and these games inherently have a strong focus on social interaction.

When someone sends you a message or an invite via Steam while you’re playing, you will need to access Steam’s overlay to respond.

Steam’s overlay can also be used for other purposes on the platform, such as making purchases, reading game guides, viewing screenshots, and creating groups.

The overlay also has a built-in web browser which can be very convenient if you want to quickly look something up without exiting or minimizing your game.

Steam Overlay Browser
Steam’s built-in browser that can be accessed from the overlay

You are now more aware of the restrictions you encounter when the Steam Overlay stops working.

The issue can be caused by insufficient system resources or simply due to a bug that freezes the overlay and makes it unresponsive.  

Quick Pre-Fixes To Try

Before you progress to some of the more complex solutions, try these quick and easy fixes that could solve your problem without wasting unnecessary time.

  • Check that you’re using the correct shortcut buttons on your keyboard. If someone else has been using your PC or Steam account, they might have changed the shortcut without your knowledge. The default combination is Shift + Tab.
  • Make sure you have “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game” selected in the “In-Game” section of Steam’s settings panel.
    Enable Steam Overlay Setting
  • Restart your System and launch Steam again, then check whether or not the overlay is working. Try using it on different games, as the overlay could be disabled for one game specifically.

If these don’t work, you can move on to the more complex methods in the guide below, which have been found to work by many Steam users. Don’t worry; they are still very easy!

You can also read Steam’s official blog post covering everything you need to know about the platform’s overlay feature.

Fix 1: End “gameoverlayui.exe” In Your Task Manager

You can force the Steam Overlay to close by opening your Task Manager and ending the “gameoverlayui.exe” process.

Follow the steps below.

  1. Open Steam, log into your account, and start a game.
  2. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard and select Task Manager from the menu that appears.
  3. Open the “Processes” tab and find “gameoverlayui.exe” on the list. End the task.
    Steam GameoverlayUI
  4. Open your game again and press Shift + Tab (or a different combination if you have set a custom shortcut for the Steam Overlay)

The Steam Overlay should now open without any issues. This fix has helped many users, but there are still other methods to try if it doesn’t work for you.

Fix 2: Verify Integrity Of Game Cache

Verifying the integrity of the game cache solves many issues with games on Steam. Whether you’re a Steam beginner or an experienced user of the platform, this task has been made very simple to perform.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Open Steam and log into your account.
  2. In your library, right-click on the name of the game you’re having trouble with and select Properties.
  3. Click Local Files and select Verify integrity of game files. Steam will automatically complete the process for you.
    Verifying integrity of game files on Steam
  4. Once the process is complete, launch your game and try accessing the overlay again.

If this doesn’t work, try disabling and enabling the overlay for the game individually. Read the following section for more information.

Fix 3: Disable And Re-Enable Steam Overlay For The Title Individually

Steam allows you to enable or disable the overlay feature globally or for each title individually.

If you can’t open the overlay in a specific game, but it works on others, you should check if the problem is caused by this setting being improperly configured.

Here’s what to do.

  1. Open your Steam app and log into your account. Then, in the library, find the game you’re having problems with and right-click it. Select Properties.
  2. In the menu that opens, select General. Tick the box next to “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game.”
    Steam Shift Tab Not Working
  3. If it was already enabled, disable and then re-enable it.
  4. Start the game and see if the problem persists.

You should now be able to access the Steam Overlay. This method has helped many users despite being quick and simple.

Fix 4: Run The Latest Stable Version Of Steam

Steam staff and users have both reported that earlier versions of Steam had many issues with the Steam overlay function.

Some users prefer not to download every software update. If you are one of them and you’re experiencing issues with the overlay, remember that it’s always recommended to update to the latest stable version of the client.

You can download the client from the official Steam website.

Steam Install

Whenever there’s an update for the client, Steam will download it automatically at launch. Remember that uninstalling and reinstalling your Steam client requires you to back up your games.

You can read more about creating a backup and uninstalling Steam in our guide.

Fix 5: Reinstall Steam On Your PC

Reinstalling Steam, regardless of which version of the client you’re using, can sometimes solve the Steam Overlay Not Working problem.

This is mentioned in the official Steam Overlay article, alongside upgrading your system and other potential solutions.  

Conclusion

By applying the solutions above, you should now be able to access your Steam overlay again while playing games via the client.

Be aware that you cannot use Steam’s overlay without being online. This is worth remembering because some Steam users prefer to play single-player games while running Steam in offline mode.

Related Reads

Steam Disk Write Error
Fix: Steam Disk Write Error
Bojan Veselinovikj
LinkedIn
Bojan Veselinovikj

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.