Did you know that you can play your Steam games without an internet connection? It’s perfect for when you’re traveling or if you have spotty Wi-Fi and you want to enjoy some PC gaming.
However, before you head off, there are some important points you need to know about Steam Offline Mode. If you don’t set it up in advance, it won’t work.
Here’s everything you need to know about Steam Offline Mode.
What Is Steam Offline Mode?
Ordinarily, you must connect to the internet in order to launch Steam and play games through it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Steam’s network provides many useful features such as Steam cloud saves, achievement tracking, and automatic updates.
With Steam Offline Mode, you can play games through Steam even when you have a spotty or nonexistent internet connection. It’s a fun Steam feature you probably didn’t know existed!
How to Prepare Steam Offline Mode
You can’t simply launch Steam when you don’t have an internet connection and start gaming. There are a number of prerequisites you need to carry out.
First, launch Steam when you have an internet connection. If Steam prompts you to sign in, check Remember my password so that you automatically sign in next time.
Once on Steam, go to Steam > Settings > Account from the top menu. Ensure that Don’t save account credentials on this computer is unchecked. If it’s checked, you can’t use Steam Offline Mode. Click OK once done.
Next, from the bottom pane of the main Steam window, click Downloads. Ensure that there are no pending downloads, whether that be new games you’re downloading or updates to your existing games. You want the download queue to be clear.
Next, launch the games that you intend to play offline. This will ensure that there aren’t any further updates or installation requirements that you need to carry out before you can actually play it. Once you’ve done that, close the game.
That’s all the preparation done. Now it’s time to launch Steam in Offline Mode. To do this, from the main Steam window, go to Steam > Go Offline. A message will pop-up to explain what you’re about to do. Click Restart in Offline Mode.
Voilà! You’re now using Steam in Offline Mode, and you can play your games without an internet connection. Remember, many Steam features will be unavailable, so don’t be surprised when you navigate to areas like the store or your profile and you see the warning: “Steam is currently in Offline Mode.”
When you’re ready to return online, click Steam > Go Online. Although you can stay in Offline Mode indefinitely, you should return online periodically so that you can receive game updates, sync your achievements, and download new games.
How to Launch a Steam Game in Offline Mode
Once you’ve enabled Steam’s Offline Mode, you don’t need to do anything special to launch your games. Just select one from your library, click Play, and off you go.
That said, any game that requires an active internet connection or uses an external launcher won’t work with Offline Mode. There is no way to circumvent this.
How to Troubleshoot Issues With Steam Offline Mode
Hopefully your experience with Steam Offline Mode is smooth sailing, but you might occasionally encounter some issues.
The most common issue is that you try to launch a game and see the error “This game cannot be started in Offline Mode”. It’s likely this is because you didn’t fully update or launch the game first, before you activated Offline Mode. Most games need to sync to the Steam network before you can use them offline.
If Offline Mode refuses to work entirely, it might be that Steam didn’t correctly close the last time you shut down your computer. This can cause loss of data that Steam’s Offline Mode needs to run. To prevent this, ensure Steam is fully closed before you shut down. Do not force close the Steam application; simply right-click the Steam icon in your taskbar and click Exit.
Alternatively, your firewall may interfere with the Steam client and cause issues with Offline Mode. See our guide on how to fix when you can’t sign in to Steam, as many of the tips here are applicable.
Finally, your computer might think you have an internet connection, even if you don’t, and this causes confusion for Steam. On Windows, press Windows key + I to open Settings and go to Network & Internet > Change adapter options. Once here, right-click your connection and select Disable.
How to Appear Offline on Steam
While we’ve covered Steam’s Offline Mode thus far, what if you just want to use Steam but appear offline to your friends? This is great if you just want to have a gaming session in peace, without friends messaging you.
In that case, from the top toolbar, click Friends. Here you’ll find various status options. The relevant choices are Invisible and Offline.
Invisible makes you appear offline to everyone, but you can still see your friends list and send messages. In comparison, Offline disconnects you from the Steam community entirely.
These statuses purely impact the social element of Steam. Regardless of which you choose, you can still play online, download games, receive updates, and so on. Simply put, you maintain connection to the Steam network.
Once you’re done, return to the Friends menu and select Online (or Away, if you wish to appear inactive, which is what your Steam status changes to automatically after a period of time).
Play Your Steam Games Wherever You Are
Thanks to Steam Offline Mode, you can play your games whatever your circumstance. Deep in the wilderness? Flying on a plane? Suffering an internet outage? It doesn’t matter—as long as you’ve prepped everything, you can enjoy your full Steam library.
The inclusion of Offline Mode is one of the many reasons why buying games on Steam is great. It’s the de facto PC games marketplace for a reason, and features like Offline Mode make it clear to see why.
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