Steam Family Sharing exits beta, Neowin shows you how to set it up

After many months of beta testing, Valve has made its Steam Family Sharing program available to all Steam users.

For those unaware, Steam Family Sharing allows you to share your entire library of games with up to five users spread across ten authorized machines. In almost all cases, playing a shared title offers the exact same experience as playing a game that you’ve purchased yourself. All game progress is still saved via Steam Cloud services and Steam Achievements are earned only by the user actually playing.

Games associated with another user’s library may only be played, however, while that library is not in use. If any game from the host library is accessed while another user is playing, that user will be given a few minutes warning that his or her game session will be shut down unless they purchase the game.

While all of this sounds great in theory, actually sharing your game library with another user is quite a complicated process, and one that may require sharing your account password. If that possibility doesn’t scare you, you can follow the detailed guide below to find out how to successfully access another user’s library.

Steam Family Sharing How-to Guide

If you want to be able to play games that belong to a friend or family member (or vice versa), you must sign into Steam on the specific computer that you want to use with your friend’s Steam log-in information at least one time.

Unless you actually live with this person, this process will involve asking for your friend’s Steam username and password. It will also involve asking said friend for the five digit verification code that is required by Steam when attempting to sign into the program for the first time on an “unauthorized” computer. Remember when I told you this was complicated?

Once you have successfully logged into the other user’s Steam account on the specific machine that you wish to use, you must do one more thing in order to access their library. While logged in with their information, you must select “AUTHORIZE THIS COMPUTER” (see below).

Once this has been done, and after you have logged back onto the same computer with your account information, you should now see your buddy's Steam user name under “AUTHORIZED ACCOUNTS.” Because you are nice, you should select this box and return the favor of Steam Family Sharing.

All you have to do now is ask your friend to check the box next to your name. Remember, however, that they will only see your username if they have gone through all of the steps described above on one of their computers.

Once everything is said and done, you should now see under the “Library” drop down menu (see below) an option to view only a specific user’s game library. Judging by the content of my brother’s library, it appears to only show games that I have not yet purchased.

Well, there you have it. It’s certainly not pretty, but it’s also understandable why Valve doesn’t want to make it super easy to share your games with multiple people. In addition to potential financial concerns, Valve has made it clear that any Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) infractions resulting from a friend's actions will result in punishment being doled out to the original account holder. While it would be nice if you could simply right click on a person in your Steam friends’ list and select “share library,” the extra step of having to provide your account information makes you think twice about giving this privilege to someone.

Source: Steam Family Sharing 

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It's a good start but a couple major improvements in my opinion:

1. Allow computer authorization without having to log into the computer you want to authorize (via the Steams friend-list or something).

2. Allow controlling what games are not shared (I want to share my library with my nephews, but a few games it contains would not be appropriate for them).

I'm sure improvements will come (as they always do with new features), but the above are probably the two largest problems I currently see with the system.

No, the #1 major problem is you can not play game1 while your nephew can play game2. As soon as you start any game, he gets kicked out with a purchase link (iirc).

Yup but some of the DRM parts were poor and they did a terrible job of explaining it.

Edited by -Razorfold, Mar 3 2014, 4:47am :

dead.cell said,
^ Was going to like your post, until you decided to carry on a petty argument...

I liked the original setup and I agree with him.

If they'd stuck to their guns I might've bought an Xbox One instead of building a new comp.

kidjenius said,
Isn't this the same thing that Xbox One was supposed to have?

No. This is a #### system which is only good if you have a child/sibling etc who also use steam on the same computer i.e., both of you do not use the computer at the same time. Previously you would have had to share an account; now both of you can have different accounts.

On XBO, it would been what it truly needs to be: you being able to play game1 while your friend/child/sibling can play game2 from your library. That's how sharing works.
On XBO, as a bonus, both of you would have been able to play the SAME game1 at same time (details about this feature is a bit blurry but it was there).

Steam's feature is not sharing. It is just how windows user accounts work. All user accounts on same PC gets access to photoshop (or whatever) installed in that computer.

Very useful feature that i've wanted for ages, sharing is always a big problem with digital services.
Can you play co-op/multiplayer on the same game with the person it's shared with?

True but I would have thought this would be just not allowing you to run two instances of the same game. Surly they should allow it so one can play Portal and the other Portal 2!

Luc2k said,
Nope. You only get to play a game if the owner isn't playing ANYTHING from his library. As soon as he starts playing you get a timer before you're kicked.


I've been in the beta for quite a while and this was very annoying and not very logical.
It's why my friends stopped playing the games I own.
I'm sure it'll get to where we can just play a specific title at some point though, maybe with periodic checks, like the Xbox One was supposed to have to enforce it.

Luc2k said,
Nope. You only get to play a game if the owner isn't playing ANYTHING from his library.

Well that seems kind of pointless; may as well just let them log into your account.