Dedicated Steam users amass huge catalogs of games in their libraries, but in the past there was no way to share them. Today, the Family Library Sharing feature allows players to allow others to access their libraries. Once a person is licensed, they can play most of their games.
While sharing games with friends and family seems simple, there are some conditions and limitations. Read on to find out how sharing works.
Share your Steam library with friends and family
Family Library Sharing allows a user to authorize up to 10 devices at any one time. On any of these devices, up to five accounts can choose games from your game library to play. Here’s how to enable sharing.
- Sign in to your Steam account on the computer you want to authorize.
- Go to the Settings menu.
- Go to “Account” and check if Steam Guard is enabled.
- If not, please 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 the accounts you want to share with.
Once you complete these steps and save your settings, other Steam users will be able to access your Library and play their own games.
You can also request access to get someone else’s Library.
- Enable Steam Guard on your account.
- If someone else uses the same computer to play games, you can see the games from your Steam account 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 the authorization link.
- You should now have access to the game.
You can also choose to buy the game, 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 that Steam may not be able to support it.
The computer must have a stable internet connection to play shared games. Steam enforces this feature to prevent two users from playing a game simultaneously. If both people try to start the same game, something will happen.
The Library owner has priority access to the games. If an authorized person is still playing, he will get a message to quit or buy the game. This rule applies to all games owned by the owner, even if he wants to play another title.
Don’t panic if you suddenly can’t play a title. It’s because the owner is accessing their account at the time. You just have to wait until they finish playing.
Family Library Sharing Features and Warnings
While sharing games is great, there are other things to remember. It’s not all fun and games when you notice something is unplayable.
All its contents are easy prey for authorized people when it comes to sharing a Library. In other words, it’s all or nothing when you decide to open the Library to friends and family. Steam does not allow you to selectively grant access to specific titles.
Owners who own the DLC will also share the DLC, but only if the authorized guest does not own the base game. For example, if you have The Sims 4 and the add-on content, your friend won’t be able to access everything if they also have the base game.
Games that require paid subscriptions cannot be shared. If a game also requires a third-party account or key to work, it doesn’t qualify for family library sharing.
There are more reasons why you will find that a game cannot be shared. For example:
- The game has free DLC.
- The game is not compatible with the guest operating system.
- The owner is a Steamworks partner account and automatically owns certain titles, so they cannot be shared.
- The guest already has the game.
Some games are region restricted. Even if you share a library with a friend in a restricted country, you still can’t access it without changing your location digitally. The best way to do this is with a VPN service.
While unlikely, it’s possible that someone you’ve shared a library with could 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 cannot be shared even if your account is not fully restricted.
The main advantage of sharing the Library is to allow others to try something before they buy it. You also allow them to play titles you don’t play often. Even though Family Library Sharing isn’t perfect, many find it convenient and useful.
Let me play
With Steam’s Family Library Sharing feature, you can let friends and family play games you don’t own. There are various conditions and limits, but the experience is overwhelmingly positive. Sharing is a 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.