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How to add external games to your Steam library

Steam is the place for PC games, but several games are only available on other storefronts. The Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect, Origin, and more have games that you can’t find on Steam. Plus there are those classic roguelike games you're likely to download from independent sites. Here's how to get them all on Steam so you can access your games all from the same place. Plus, we'll show you how to add games you've bought from places like Humble Bundle that use Steam codes.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

20 minutes

What You Need

  • PC

  • External games

Although you can add almost any game to Steam, you won’t have access to social features or achievements. Instead, Steam allows you to connect apps so you can see and launch them from your library page — though it doesn’t go through the effort of fetching box art or anything of the sort.

Further reading

How to add games to your Steam library from other sources

You can add non-Steam games to your Steam library, but you won’t have access to achievements, trading cards, or any of the social features normally attached to Steam games. It’s simply a way to launch games from the Steam interface.

Here’s how to add a non-Steam game to Steam:

Step 1: Find the game file on your computer. Doing this first allows you to use search functions easily.

how to add games steam library epic
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Step 2: Open the Games menu at the top left of your Steam window, then click Add a non-Steam game to my library.

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Step 3: Select the program, or go hunt it down. If you’ve installed the game already, there’s a strong chance it’ll be listed in the quick apps window.

Step 4: If it’s there, just click the box next to the game you want to add, then push the Add selected programs button.

Step 5: If the game isn’t listed, hit Browse and find the file manually.

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Adding Steam codes to your Steam library

When you buy games from third-party stores and services, such as Humble Bundle, those games are often actually Steam games, and you can redeem them through Steam using a code provided by the seller. Codes are 12 characters long, and they’re pretty easy to use.

Step 1: Access your game code.

Step 2: Once you’re in Steam, head to the top of the client and look for the Games menu at the top. Click on Activate a product on Steam.

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Step 3: That’ll open up a new window; click Next, then agree to the Steam subscriber agreement.

Step 4: Input your Steam key in the new window. Hit Next again to confirm it.

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Step 5: The next window will let you install the game on your computer immediately. You can also cancel at this step, which will add the game to your account but not immediately install it.

Adding Windows games and apps to your Steam library

Windows is pretty open when it comes to third-party apps (after all, you can just chuck any ol’ .exe file into Steam and it’ll work). It’s not, however, open with its own apps. Windows apps don’t show up in the file explorer, so you can’t add them to Steam just by searching. Thankfully, there’s an open-source tool that will do the job for you, which is especially useful for adding games from Xbox Game Pass to Steam.

Step 1: To start, you need to download a tool known as UWPHook. Brian Lima, the developer, created it and there are many other projects yet to come from them, (including a nifty UI for playing itch.io games).

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Step 2: You may get a SmartScreen notification when running the installer. We didn’t encounter anything malicious in the app (you can always use free antivirus software if you’re concerned).

Step 3: Export UWP apps to Steam. After downloading UWPHook, select it. Then tap on the Load installed UWP apps button. Keep in mind that this could take a bit of time for the software to thoroughly locate every Windows app on your device.

Step 4: After the list of applications is acquired, you can sort through them and highlight which ones you’d like to add to your Steam account.

Step 5: After selecting them, you can rename each app and export them. To fully export, you’ll need to tap on the Export selected apps to Steam option. After several seconds UWPHook will take over and copy them to your Steam Library.

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Step 6: To see your updated list of applications in Steam, you have to reboot the system. After shutting it down and restarting Steam, every new app should appear in the library.

Step 7: If for some reason, some of your exported applications aren’t there, you may need to log the AUMID for each missing app manually.

Adding emulator games to your Steam library

Digital Trends does not promote piracy, but that doesn’t stop many players out there on the internet from using software emulators and ROMs to play old games — and there’s a legal argument to be made for creating ROM copies of your own games or downloading ROM copies of games you’ve legally purchased that you don’t distribute to others. In any case, whether it’s legal or not, people play ROMs, and sometimes they want to add them to their Steam libraries.

It’s tougher to add ROMs to Steam because, in addition to creating a shortcut to the ROM itself like you would with any other game, you also need to tell Steam to access the emulator necessary for playing it. You can speed up the process with tools such as Ice or Steam ROM Manager to add your ROMs to Steam. You can also create your own shortcuts in Steam that will work with your ROMs, much in the same way you add non-Steam games to your Steam library.

Step 1: Create a shortcut to any .exe file. First, use the same steps above that you would to add a game to Steam, but choose any executable program file. All you’re doing here is making a shortcut you’ll edit later, so it doesn’t matter what program you use — you’ll be changing it.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Find the folder where your emulator and ROMs are installed. Just as above, take a second and find the file path to the emulator and ROMs you’re looking to use. You’ll need them in a moment, and writing down or copying the file path ahead of time will save you a little time later.

Step 3: Edit the shortcut. In Steam, find the program you just added from your library. Select or right-click the game and use the menu that pops up to navigate down to Properties.

Step 4: That’ll pull open a screen that lets you edit the shortcut you created, including changing the name and icon that goes with it and altering the file path for the shortcut. Here, you’ll just plug in the information for your emulator and ROM to add it to Steam.

Step 5: Change the name of the shortcut to whatever the title of your ROM is, then highlight the text in the Target field.

Step 6: Replace it with the file path to the emulator, making sure to keep quotation marks around it.

Step 7: Put a space after the end of the file path to the emulator, and then add the file path to the ROM you want to use — again putting quotation marks around it. Your finished field should look something like this: C:YourEmulatorEmulator Folderemulator.exe C:YourEmulatorEmulator FolderYour ROM game.n64.

Step 8: You’ll either want to delete the text in the Start in field or put the file path to your emulator folder in that field. In most cases, that should do it. The shortcut will now search for the emulator and run it and then the ROM and run that as well.

Add command line arguments for emulator games

For some emulators, you’ll need additional commands in your Target field to tell the emulator what to do. There are a host of potential commands and they’re different for different emulators. You can find a big, useful list of command arguments at LaunchBox.com, and Steam user cunningmunki created a handy tutorial for adding ROMs to Steam that also lists a few of the most common emulators and their command arguments.

When you know what command arguments you need, you’ll generally add them to the Target field after the file paths for your emulator, but before the file path for your ROM.

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Sam Hill
Sam Hill is a journalist and the gaming guides editor at Digital Trends. He's also written tech guides for Input and has…
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