Launched back in 2003, Steam has now gained traction among gamers as one of the leading gaming distribution platforms. The platform surpassed 120 million active monthly users in 2023 and is expected to continue growing in popularity. Steam provides automatic updates for games, allows for in-game voice and chat functionality, and gives gamers access to a large gaming community. The platform also offers a variety of features that make it attractive to developers, such as Steamworks.
This provides them with tools to help integrate their games with the Steam platform. Despite its success, it has faced some criticism from gamers. Many users face the problem with Steam not launching.
Quick fix for Steam not launching issue
To fix the “Steam not launching” issue, first, try running Steam as an administrator by right-clicking on the Steam shortcut and selecting “Run as administrator“. If that doesn’t work, you can attempt to clear your Steam cache by navigating to Settings > Downloads > Clear Download Cache. As the last resort, if all else fails, consider reinstalling Steam, but remember to backup your Steam game files to prevent loss.
Common reasons why Steam is not launching
If you are a Steam user, then you might have experienced a time when it stopped working. In such cases, many users find themselves perplexed. However, there are a few common issues behind it. Once we understand them, we can effectively try to solve the problem. Thus, here are a few common reasons that might be responsible for Steam not launching:
The Steam server is down
Most of the time, the issue is on the application side, more so due to the server. Any server-related web service is prone to crashing for a number of reasons. Thus, if your Steam app is not launching, then maybe the server is down or experiencing some trouble. It is better to check back in a few minutes because by then it is possible for the issues to be resolved.
You can use a website like Downdetector to check the status of the Steam servers:
Multiple Steam Tasks Running
Steam is a gaming platform that mostly runs in the background. However, sometimes there might be many Steam-related tasks running at the same time, which might cause the app to crash and stop launching. Thus, it is better to check whether multiple Steam tasks are running or not.
- First, launch the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard.
- Then, go to the Program bar and check whether other Steam tasks are running or not.
- If they are, select them and click on End Task to terminate them.
- Finally, check by launching the Steam app.
Issues with the Steam App cache
If the cache is corrupted or if there are any other issues with it, this can also stop Steam from launching. Thus, make sure the “app cache” folder in the Steam directory is fine. If you have any suspicions regarding the cache, you can always delete the folder and try again.
Outdated Application or OS
If your Steam app is outdated, then chances are it won’t launch, no matter what you do. But on the other hand, it is also something that is much easier to solve. All you have to do is update the app to the latest version. The same thing can also happen with your operating system.
If the OS you are using is outdated, it can interfere with the Steam app and prevent it from launching. Thus, you might also have to update your OS.
How to fix the Steam not launching issue?
There can be many reasons for this particular error. Several causes can force Steam not to launch. The most common causes are concerns with your Internet connection, antivirus software, or firewall. However, there may be many other grounds, such as outdated drivers or a corrupted game library.
If you’re having trouble launching Steam, here are nearly a dozen things you can try:
1. Restart your computer or check your Internet connection
If you face the problem of Steam not launching, the first thing you should try is to start your computer again and then launch Steam. This might sound like a basic troubleshooting step, but it can sometimes fix the issue. Another of the most common reasons Steam refuses to launch is a poor internet connection. If you’re on a wireless network, try moving closer to the router or connecting directly to the modem.
2. Temporarily disable your antivirus software
Another common cause of Steam not launching is the antivirus software you’re using. It can sometimes block Steam from opening or accessing the Internet. To disable this software temporarily, right-click the antivirus icon in your system tray and select Disable, Exit, or Quit.
3. Turn off your Firewall for a moment
If you’re having trouble starting Steam, it might be because your firewall is blocking it. To temporarily disable your firewall, go to the Control Panel and find the Firewall section. Select the Off option and then try re-launching Steam.
4. Remove and Reinstall Steam
You can try uninstalling and then reinstalling Steam this way:
- Search for “add or remove programs” in the Start menu.
- Click on Steam on the list and then choose Uninstall.
- Once Steam is uninstalled, restart your computer.
- Download, install, and launch the latest version of Steam from the official website.
Make sure that Steam is removed completely before reinstalling it. You should receive a “Steam is not installed” error if you try launching games after the uninstallation (if you want to make sure).
5. Change the download region in Steam settings
Try switching the download region in Steam settings. To do this:
- Launch Steam and go to Settings.
- In the ‘Settings’ window, go to the Downloads tab and select a different download region.
- After changing the download region, restart Steam and see if that fixes the problem.
6. Repair Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables
You can also try to fix Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables this way:
- Go to Start and type ‘appwiz.cpl’ in the search box. This will open the Add or Remove Programs window.
- In the ‘Add or Remove Programs’ window, look for Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables and uninstall all the installed versions on your computer.
- Once all the versions are uninstalled, restart your computer and download and install the latest version from the Microsoft website.
7. End Steam background processes
Windows Task Manager is extremely useful! If you’ve used a Windows PC for some time, you’re probably familiar with how things operate, but here’s what to do if you’re not:
- Right-click on your taskbar or press Control + Alt + Delete and select Task Manager. Processes should be sorted in alphabetical order.
- Next, check for Steam processes and terminate them before restarting the program. This is a straightforward remedy that usually works.
8. Clear Steam app cache
It’s good to clean out your local Steam cache on your PC. Cache speeds up the loading of applications, but it can “forget” things from time to time, resulting in bugs. Look for the app cache folder within your Steam directory to repair this problem. For example, if you installed the Steam client on your C: drive, this is where you’ll find it: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam.
The app cache folder should be at the top of your folders if they’re organized alphabetically.
Make a copy of the app cache folder and store it in a secure location for an emergency. After that, simply delete the original from the Steam directory. All you have to do now is launch the client. There should be no problems with Steam launching; it should run without a hitch.
9. Opt for System Restore
Just like the last known good configuration, you can try restoring your system to an earlier point in time when things were working perfectly. System Restore will not affect personal files like photos, music, and so on, but it can get rid of problematic drivers or system settings changes. This uninstall procedure will not delete any of your files or games. Now:
- Go to the Control Panel and select View Large Icons in the upper right corner.
- Find Recovery and click it.
- Select Start, then go to Control Panel.
- Select System and Security, then System Restore.
- Choose a date before the Windows update is installed using the next button.
The procedure is somewhat long, but be patient and allow it to finish. It fixes a plethora of issues other than those related to Steam.
10. Update system drivers
It’s always good to keep your device drivers updated since they provide compatibility with applications and the operating system. If you’re using an Nvidia GPU, download and install GeForce Experience. It will scan your drivers and update them automatically. The same goes for AMD GPU, where you need to download AMD Radeon Software. Intel and AMD processors have their driver-updating utilities, too.
11. Do this if Steam won’t go past the home screen
Oftentimes Steam launches briefly but crashes when you try to launch a game or change a setting. Try this if so:
Step 1. Verify the integrity of your game files
Steam may not open games because of corrupt game files. To verify the integrity of your game files, open Steam and:
- Select the Library tab.
- Right-click on the game and select Properties.
- Select the Local files tab and click Verify integrity of game cache.
Step 2. Check for game updates and install them
Investigate if there are new Steam updates f and install them. Launch Steam and:
- Go to the Library tab.
- Right-click on the game giving you the problem and select Properties from the menu.
- In the ‘Properties’ window, go to the Updates tab and select ‘Check for Updates.’
- Install them if any updates are available and see if that fixes the difficulty.
If none of the above methods works, you can try contacting Steam support for further assistance.