Steam’s Family Library Sharing feature is great for gaming with loved ones without buying multiple copies. It lets you share your Steam library and give other accounts access to your games when you’re not playing. Family Library Sharing maintains the privacy of individual accounts.
This guide will cover everything required to set up family sharing, including authorizing computers, sending invites, managing parental controls, and addressing common issues. Follow along to learn how to use Steam’s family sharing to game share with family and friends.
What are the benefits of Family Sharing on Steam?
Several advantages make the family-sharing feature useful for Steam users:
Play Each Other’s Games
By sharing libraries, family members can install and play one another’s games while the owner is not using Steam. This gives access to more games without purchasing multiple copies, saving money.
No Need to Share Accounts
Family sharing avoids the need to share login credentials, maintaining the privacy of each user’s account. You don’t have to worry about giving out your password.
Gaming together is easy even apart, as shared games can be accessed remotely via any computer. Just log in and access the shared library from anywhere. Steam’s offline mode allows shared games to be played while Steam is offline.
Share DLC and In-Game Content
All DLC and in-game content purchased on the shared library is accessible to family members. This includes skins, maps, weapons, bonuses, and more. Expand your play.
Play Older Titles
Access older games in a library that you may have missed when they were originally released. Try classics you’ve yet to experience.
Sharing saves money for families with multiple gamers by avoiding buying several copies to play together—a great value.
How to set up Family Sharing on Steam
You must set up Family Library Sharing to start sharing your Steam games with family members. This is done through the following steps:
Step 1: Enable Family Sharing
First, Family Library Sharing needs to be enabled in your Steam settings:
- Open Steam and select “Settings” at the top left.
- Choose “Family” from the left side menu.
- Select Manage to enable Family Library Sharing.
Step 2: Authorize Shared Computers
Next, you need to authorize any computers you want to allow access to shared games. This permits to install and play games from the library:
- Log into Steam on each computer you want to share with. This could be a family member’s PC.
- Go to Settings > Family and toggle the button beside the label “Authorize Library Sharing on this device”.
- Enter your Steam Guard code if prompted for verification.
Step 3: Share Your Library
Now you can share your library with other Steam accounts:
- In Steam, go to Settings > Family and select “Manage Family Library Sharing.”
- Click the “Add Person” button and enter the Steam account name or email address to share with.
- Send and accept the sharing invitation for access to be granted.
Once accepted, your Steam library will be shared with that user and appear in their library to download games.
Step 4: Set Parental Controls (Optional)
If sharing games with kids, you can restrict access to certain games and limit playtime:
- Go to Family Settings and choose the account you want to manage.
- Check the games you want to share with that person. Uncheck any inappropriate titles.
- Click “Manage Family View” to set restrictions like playtime limits.
How Family Sharing Works
Here are some key things to know about how Family Library Sharing functions:
One Shared Library at a Time
Each shared user can only access one shared library at a time. They can choose which family member’s library to access currently. Switching takes a few clicks.
Playtime Prioritized for Owners
If the owning player starts a game, the family member gets a 5-minute warning and is kicked off afterward. This prevents hogging someone else’s games.
Only One Player per Shared Game
Shared games can only be played by one person at a time, even if owned by different users. You won’t compete for gameplay.
Some Games Have Restrictions
Developers exclude A few games from family sharing, usually to prevent the exploitation of bonuses and achievements.
Shared Games Require an Internet Connection
An internet connection is required to verify shared games and login credentials when launching them. Offline play is only possible after launching while online.
Up to 5 Accounts Can Share
Your library can be shared with up to 5 authorized accounts simultaneously, with a maximum of 10 devices and users.
Share Across OS Platforms
Windows, Mac, and Linux users can all share and access the same Steam library without issues. Cross-platform support makes it easy.
Solutions for Common Family Sharing Issues
Sometimes you may encounter problems with family sharing on Steam. Here are fixes for some common issues:
Can’t Send or Accept Invite
Invites may only succeed if there are restrictions on the target account, such as limited users or a brand-new Steam account. Ensure the account meets Steam’s requirements for family sharing, like having Steam Guard enabled.
- Confirm the target account is in good standing and not limited. Check account status.
- Ensure the account has enabled Steam Guard for at least 15 days. Enable if needed.
- Try sending the Invite again via Manage Family Sharing.
- If it still fails, contact Steam Support for help troubleshooting.
Family Member Loses Access
Access to shared games can only be recovered if the Steam client is offline for a short time. Steam requires an online check at least once every five days.
- Have them log into Steam and try launching a shared game again.
- If that doesn’t work, restart the Steam client and reconnect to the internet.
- Try launching the game again. Access should be restored.
- Resend a sharing invite via Settings if access is still lost.
Can’t Launch Shared Games
Sometimes shared games fail to launch even online. This can happen due to incorrectly configured permissions or software conflicts.
- Make sure the computer has been authorized for sharing. Re-enter the code if needed.
- Temporarily turn off any anti-virus or firewall software interfering with Steam.
- Verify the game is still shared and wasn’t removed from the library. Check Sharing settings.
- If it still won’t launch, restart the computer and try again.
- Reauthorize the computer if issues persist after restarting.
Changes to Shared Library Not Appearing
Changes made to the shared library, like new purchases or installations, can take time to propagate to family members. Delays are usually caused by updates still pending.
- Wait an hour or two for changes to be applied across Steam servers.
- Restart the Steam client on the computer if you are not seeing updates.
- Verify settings under “Manage Family Library Sharing.”
- If changes don’t appear, uninstall and reinstall the Steam client.
Can’t Install Games
Issues installing shared games include disk space, permissions, or software conflicts on the receiving computer.
- Check for enough free disk space on the Steam folder drive.
- Temporarily turn off anti-virus software that may block installations.
- Ensure the Steam installation folder has sharing permissions enabled.
- Verify the integrity of game files by accessing the Steam settings if the installation fails.
- Change the Steam library folder location if needed.
Offline Play Not Working
Offline play requires shared games to be launched at least once while connected online. Proper software configuration is also needed.
- Ensure Steam is launched online before trying offline play.
- Check that Offline Mode is enabled under Steam’s settings.
- Verify the shared game is fully installed before going offline.
- If issues persist, reauthorize the sharing computer and reboot.
When properly configured, Steam’s Family Library Sharing is great for enjoying a shared gaming experience across multiple households and devices. Setting aside ample time for setup, occasionally re-verifying computers, and understanding the limitations will prevent most issues with the sharing feature. Pay attention to software conflicts and account restrictions that can disrupt access. Follow the guidance in this guide, and your family or friend group will be gaming together from your Steam collection in no time.
How many people can I share my Steam games with?
You can share your Steam library with up to 5 authorized accounts and ten devices per account. Send invites to link accounts.
Do family members need to log into my Steam account?
No, family sharing does not share login credentials. Each person uses their Steam account to access shared libraries.
Can two people play a shared game at the same time?
Only one shared library user can access an individual game simultaneously. The library owner takes priority.
Can I limit what games family members have access to?
In Family View, you can choose which games get shared and enable restrictions like playtime limits.
Does family sharing work across different operating systems?
Yes, shared Steam libraries work across Windows, Mac, and Linux. Family members can access games on any supported OS.