Want to play your friend’s Steam games? Here’s how to use Steam Family Sharing

how to family share in steam stock photo dean drobot
Dean Drobot/123RF

Steam is the most popular digital distribution platform for PC games, and if you are into PC gaming, it’s likely you and your friends have built up a substantial library of Steam games over the years. Although the service has frequent sales, one can only afford to buy so many games. Thankfully, if one of your friends owns a game that you don’t, it is possible for you to play it — without borrowing their computer  — thanks to Steam’s Family Sharing function. The process is simple, and allows you to share your library with up to five other accounts, so if your friend wants to try, say, Shadow of Mordor from your account, they can do so hassle-free. Here’s how it works.

Before you share your account, you must enable the “Steam Guard” feature, which requires you to input a code — received by email or text message — when someone logs into your Steam account from a new computer.

To activate Steam Guard, log into your account and open Preferences.

how to family share in steam sharing step 1

In the Account tab, click the button labeled Manage Steam Guard Account Security…

how to family share in steam sharing step 2

Next, select whether you want to receive your Steam Guard notifications via text or email.

how to family share in steam sharing step 3

With Steam Guard activated, you will be able to share your library with another computer. To do so, you must log into your Steam account on that computer and go to your Preferences. Afterward, select the tab labeled Family.

how to family share in steam sharing step 4

Check the box labeled Authorize Library Sharing on this computer.

how to family share in steam sharing step 5

You should see a list of accounts that have also logged into that computer in the past. Check whichever ones you want to share with, then click the box labeled OK. Now, when your friend logs into the selected account on that computer, they will be able to download and play games from your library.

Keep in mind, however, that there are limits to Family Sharing: Two users cannot access the same library at the same time. In the event that you and your friend both want to play a game from the same account at the same time, the library’s owner gets priority.