Steam is an awesome gaming platform that does more than just organize your game library. It sells, updates and supports games of all kinds and provides the Steam Workshop for mods. Although it has its flaws, Steam is definitely the best gaming platform out there right now. But what if Steam won't open? How to play when Steam is not working?
I've been using Steam for over fifteen years, ever since it started selling games through its neat platform. It's the only game launcher I really like to have on my system that actually works and doesn't hog resources, spy on me (too much), and do something useful other than apply DRM.
Troubleshoot Steam startup issues
Steam is undoubtedly more reliable and stable than ever, but things still go wrong. A common problem is that nothing happens when you press the Steam icon or when the bootstrapper starts and then closes without loading the program. Both can be annoying as it wastes some precious game minutes trying to get it to work.
So rather than searching the internet or Redditt for what to do if Steam won't open, just read this. I've collected most of the fixes I know of for this issue in one place. I use Windows, so they are all based on Windows 10, but many can be used on other operating systems with a little modification. Try them out in order and we'll get you playing in no time!
Restart your computer
The first fix to try if Steam won't open is to restart your computer. This should be one of the first things you try on any computer for any program problem. Restart and try again.
Check Steam Processes
If that doesn't work or you don't want to restart right away, check the running processes. A running Steam process may not allow a new instance of Steam to run properly.
- Right-click an empty space on your Windows taskbar and select Task Manager, you can also use Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
- Find the Steam Client Bootstrapper and Steam Customer Service. If you see them running, right-click and select Final task.
- Try Steam again.
Check for system changes
If there are no processes running and Steam still won't start, what changes have you made since you last used your computer? Did you add a new antivirus? A new firewall? Another security software? If anything has changed or you've added new software that might interfere with Steam, undo or uninstall it and test again.
Stop your antivirus or firewall for a new test
Even if you haven't made any changes, your firewall or anti-virus program may be updating in the background and interfering with Steam. First stop the antivirus and try again. Then stop the firewall and try again. If Steam is working, the security software is interfering. If nothing changes, move on.
Check your VPN
Steam generally works well with VPNs, but not always. When I first installed mine, Steam just wasn't working. I think it was because I had logged in for years in one place and suddenly logged in somewhere else. Maybe it's a safety feature, maybe not. Either way, if you're running a VPN or installed a new one, turn it off for a minute and try again.
Try Steam Offline
Offline Steam is for times when you don't have internet or don't want to be seen online. Logging in and using it locally can sometimes allow you to play your games if Steam loads up to the UI before crashing. It won't help much if you're planning a clan raid or something social, but it will reduce the problem if it works.
Assuming Steam loads into the UI before crashing, try this:
- Open Steam and select smoke from the top menu.
- Select Sign out and select Restart Steam in offline mode.
If the steps mentioned above didn't work, you really only have two things left to try, reinstalling Steam or reinstalling Windows. Since Steam is not working and Windows is not, let's try Steam first. Hopefully, if we download and install a new client over the existing one, we'll still retain access to all your games without having to reinstall them as well.
- Visit the Steam page and download a new client.
- Install it in the same place as your existing installation.
- Let the process complete, then try to sign in.
Hopefully, whatever the problem, it will have been overwritten by new installer files and Steam will be working properly again.
Check for system updates
In some cases, you might have problems opening Steam if your operating system is outdated.
- In Windows 10, click on the Start menu and select Parameters.
- Then click Update and security.
- Now, at the top of the screen, click Check for updates.
It's always a problem when you can't play your favorite games on your PC, but luckily it's easy to fix. In minutes, you can be on your way to rankings in no time.
Were you able to solve the problem? Do you know of any other way to fix Steam client issues? Feel free to share your experience with others in the comments below.