Steam is the well-known gaming platform and game distribution service that hardly needs any additional presentation. For many users, Steam has become a lot more than just a tool to buy, download, organize and play games, being as important in their daily lives as Facebook is for social networking addicts. More surprising is that amazing additional features brought by Steam have somehow remained rather unknown. The Steam Library Family Sharing feature is one of them. Using this function will enable you to share Steam games from your account with family and friends, meaning you will enable and allow them to play those games, and purchasing those games once again is no longer required.
One can share his or her entire games' library with friends or family members, letting them play the available games at any time they want, but there are also some limitations: one can authorise up to five different additional accounts, on ten different PCs, while a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time (therefore playing any games together, simultaneously, like in multiplayer mode, is out of the question), and though libraries are shared in their entirety, only games that don't require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play can be shared between accounts. Furthermore, the friends and family members that want to access and play the games which are shared with them must be online. Last but not least, the person sharing his/her game library must enable the Steam Guard security feature for his/her Steam account, but we'll talk about this immediately, as I enumerate the steps to follow if you want to share your Steam game library with someone. Before getting to that, I'd also like to mention first that the family members and friends that will play your shared games will be able to earn their own Steam achievements and save their own game progress to the Steam Cloud. Pretty cool, isn't it?
Here are the steps to follow in order to share your Steam library with someone:
1. First, you have to enable Steam Guard, which is a really good idea not only if you want to enable Family Sharing, but in order to considerably increase the security of your Steam account as well.
Go to the Steam Settings menu:
Then, on the Account page, click the "Manage Steam Guard Account Security..." button.
Steam Account Tab
A window that will allow you to manage your now-activated Steam Guard feature, for your account, will open.
Steam Guard Enabled
Steam Guard Management Window
2. Now that you've finished with the Steam Guard checking or enabling procedure on your own computer, you have two ways to follow. If you want to make the game library available to other users of the same computer, while they're using their Steam accounts, go to the Steam menu and then to Settings again, but this time select the Family tab. Tick to enable the "Authorize Library Sharing on this computer" option.
If you want to share the game library with other people, on their computers, then you will have to go to your friend's (or family member's) PC and log in with your Steam account there. Then, open the Settings menu again, click on the Family tab, and choose to authorize the computer. You will then be able to authorize any other Steam accounts that have also logged into the same computer, therefore your friends or family members that previously used that computer with their Steam accounts will now be authorized to use the enabled Family Sharing feature of your account. Finally, after you've finished this step too, log out of your account and let your friend or family member sign back into theirs. They will then be allowed to download and install games from your gaming library.
Authorize this Computer and any of the Available Accounts
Managing the Authorized Accounts
Despite the fact that it seems to come with quite many limitations, and despite the fact that it may look a bit confusing to set up, especially for beginners, the Steam Library Family Sharing function is a great feature that deserves your attention, as it can eventually provide you and your friends with a lot of fun and good times.