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How to share games on Steam with anyone on a single computer, or on another computer anywhere in the world

Business Insider logoBusiness Insider 05/11/2019 Ross James
a screen shot of a computer © g0d4ather/Shutterstock

 

  • You can share games on Steam through family accounts, which let you install games that are in another user's library.
  • The game will still be owned by the original purchaser's account, but family sharing will allow other accounts to play the game at no extra charge.
  • Steam won't allow shared accounts to play the same game library at the same time - even if you're playing different games, two people can't play from a single library at the same time.

By default, Steam installs games to a shared programs folder on your computer, but only allows the original buyer to play it. This means that games bought for a shared computer will only open for the purchaser's Steam account.

Family sharing settings allow other Steam accounts, whether on the same computer or far away, to play the games other users have bought, without buying the game a second time.

However, there are limits to this. Only one person can play from a user's library at any given time. This means if you want to play multiplayer, you will need to buy the game twice. And not all games are available for sharing.

You can only share games between a maximum of five accounts, and 10 devices. If you can get past these issues, however, Steam family sharing provides a useful way to allow users to share their libraries.

1. Open the Steam application.

2. Select Steam in the top-left corner of the screen, and then from the dropdown menu, select "Settings" if you're on PC, or "Preferences" if you're on a Mac.

3. Select "Family" from the settings menu. Here Steam will show you what other users have logged into Steam on the same computer.

4. Check the box that reads "Allow Library Sharing on this computer," and check the users you'd like to share with. Both users need to agree to this, and you can deauthorize accounts from this same menu. Once you've done this, you can share a game library with anyone who uses that computer.

a screenshot of a computer © Ross James/Business Insider

It's also possible to share a library between different computers, meaning that you can share a game with someone halfway across the world. However, still only one person will be able to play at a time from a shared library.

1. On your computer, log into the account that you want to share games from.

2. Once you've logged in, log out and back into your own account.

3. Once again, go into your Family settings and check the box that reads "Allow Library Sharing on this computer."

4. Steam will acknowledge that the other account has been used on your computer, and make it available for family sharing, giving you access to its game library.

Whoever you're sharing with can then log into your account on their computer and do the same thing, meaning they'll have access to your game library as well. You can do this on up to 10 different computers.

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