How to share games on Steam via Family Sharing

Purchasing games from online marketplaces like Steam has many advantages over physical media. Instant, frequent discounts, easy data management. But it has one big drawback: unlike a disc, you can't just lend the game to a friend. That said, you're not entirely limited to what you buy for yourself; Steam has a new program called Steam Families that lets you easily share your entire game library with up to five friends or family members.

How the Steam Family Plan works

Steam Family is an upgrade that merges two old and strange systems (called Steam Family Sharing and Family View) into one cohesive system.

When you use Steam Family, all eligible games in your library are automatically shared with family members. Game developers decide whether they want to be part of the Steam Family Program, so not all games are eligible (if you want to search for a specific game, here's a list of all eligible games).

You can add five members to your family, and child profiles are also supported. Child profiles are restricted and can monitor their playtime usage, let you limit their playtime, and also allow you to approve purchases for their account.

As with the old system, all games on your account are shared and you can't select them. But now, multiple people can play games in a shared library at the same time, just not the same game. So if you're playing Portal and someone else is playing Half-Life from a shared library, everything will still run seamlessly.

How to Join the Steam Families Beta Program

Steam's Home feature is still in beta, and to use it you first need to update your Steam client to the Steam Home Beta. This can be done directly on the Steam app.

Go to Steam Settings and select the "Interface" option from the sidebar. Here, find the "Client Beta Participation " option and switch to the "Steam Families Beta" option in the drop-down list.

A pop-up window will ask you to restart the Steam client. Click Restart Now and wait for Steam to download and install the beta update. That’s it, you’re ready to get started now.

How to create a Steam family and invite others

Now that you have updated your Steam client, we can go ahead and create a new home, inviting your family or friends.

  1. Click your account name in the upper right corner of the Steam app and select Account Settings .

  2. Select Family Management from the sidebar and click the Create Family button.

  3. Give your family a nice name and click the "Create" button.

  4. Now that the family is created, click the "Invite Members" button.

  5. Next, click Search Friends List to open your friends list.

  6. Here, select the friend profile you want to add.

  7. Select whether you want to add the user as an Adult or Child . Children's profiles will be locked to yours and they will not be able to purchase games on their own. You can also control their screen time.

  8. Next, click the "Invite" button in the pop-up window to confirm.

Now, you wait. Your friends will receive notifications in the Steam app and email. When they click the link to accept the invitation, they will be added to your Steam Family account and both of your games will become part of Steam Family Sharing. This happens by default, and you can't choose which games to share.

How to Play Games from a Shared Steam Family Library

Go to the Library tab in Steam and you should see more games than before. Click on the game; if you see the " From your Steam Shared Library " label, it means it's from someone else's account.

If you have several people in your library, you can also filter games based on one user account. Click the "Filter" icon next to the search and then use the "Friends" option at the bottom. Here, enter your friend's name and start searching. Now it will only show you shared games owned by that friend.

Steam Collection: FAQ

Now that you know how to set up Steam Home, let's see how it actually works.

How to share Steam games and play them simultaneously?

Two users in the same shared Steam library cannot play the same game at the same time. To do this, the two people in the shared Steam library need to each have a copy.

But with this new update, two users can freely play two different games from the same shared library (which was not possible before).

Can I play Steam games on two different computers at the same time?

Yes, you can play Steam games on two different devices at the same time. In fact, the Steam Families update has no device limit (previously it was limited to 10 devices).

But again, these limitations still apply. You can't play the same game as other people. If they try to play the same game, you will have five minutes to save your progress and exit the game.

How to join Steam Home Sharing?

As we mentioned above, keep an eye out for an email from Steam stating that you've been invited to join your friend's Steam family account. Follow the link and instructions in the email to join a Steam family account.

Can two people use the same Steam account?

Two people cannot use the same account. It is limited to one user. If you try to log into the same account on both devices and try to play the game on both devices, it won't work.

Can I play Steam shared games offline?

Yes, once you've been added to a Steam family and downloaded games, you don't need an Internet connection to play games you haven't purchased yet. Games in other people's Steam libraries will still work offline on your computer.

Why doesn't Steam sharing work?

If you are unable to receive a Steam Family invitation, or cannot set up a Steam Family, there may be two main reasons.

First, you haven't updated to the Steam Families Beta. You can do this by going to Steam Settings > Interface > Client Beta Participation > Steam Family Beta .

Secondly, you may not have a family set up in Steam. Go to Steam Account Settings > Family Management to get started. We've outlined the detailed steps to do this in the section above.