Steam Overlay Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It

With about 120 million users active on Steam monthly, solving problems has become common ground. The platform doesn’t always work perfectly, and you may be here to fix the Steam overlay not working.

Steam is the largest gaming platform in the world, as it has more players than either Xbox or PlayStation. Part of its success is its easy-to-use community features. 

In particular, the Overlay allows you to use these community features as you play. You can send or reply to messages, invite or find friends, find guides, write on community boards, etc. 

Instead of changing windows, you can also access any other Steam feature from the Overlay. So, when it doesn’t work, you’re forced to go to your desktop and choose the Steam launcher. 

How to Fix Steam Overlay Not Working?

The Steam overlay not working issue has various possible solutions. It depends on your software and hardware configuration. We recommend trying each fix until you find the one that works.

Understand the Steam Overlay Functions

Here’re the Steam overlay functions:

  • In-game micro-transactions and purchases
  • Accessing your friend’s list, finding friends, inviting friends, sending invites, or accepting invites.
  • Taking screenshots and seeing your screenshots.
  • Trading and Steam Market features.
  • Managing the in-game inventory (like badges).
  • Accessing the game’s community tab.
  • Any function you would be able to use on the Steam website, as the Overlay has a built-in web browser. 

These functions are hardware-intense, especially on top of an already heavy game. Running both at the same time could be impossible for your PC.

Suppose your computer runs a title below or very close to the minimum specs. In that case, Steam is probably shutting down the Overlay to run the title.

There’s not much you can do in this case except lowering the graphical specs (if possible) and turn on the Overlay again.

Ensure the Steam Overlay Is on

Speaking of which, you should check the Overlay feature is on. The feature may cause performance issues, so Steam can shut it off if it needs. Alternatively, a Steam update might change the configuration.

Here’s where to find the Overlay:

  1. Open Steam
  2. Click on Steam at the top right
  3. Click on Settings steam settings
  4. Go to the In-Game tab
  5. Check “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game.” enable steam overlay
  6. Check the shortcut keys, and change them if you want to steam overlay shortcut keys

As for the shortcuts, ensure they do not repeat in your game. Steam will use the game’s shortcut and skip the overlay order if it does. You need to change one or both, so they are not the same.

For example, suppose you’re playing a strategy game like Age of Empires. In that case, you may have dozens of keyboard combinations for different tasks and commands.  

Check the Overlay Per Each Game

Similarly, Steam may close the Overlay option per game, depending on how they perform on your PC.

Here’s how to check it:

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to your Library
  3. Right-click a game and select Properties steam game properties
  4. On General, check the “Enable The Steam Overlay while in-game” box enable steam overlay per game
  5. Close the window, and do the same for every other game 

Verify the Integrity of Your Game Files

You must also make sure your Steam games are running properly. Verifying the files is the option: 

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to Library
  3. Right-click on a game and select Properties steam game properties
  4. Go to Local Files
  5. Click “Verify integrity of game filesverify steam game files
  6. Wait until the process finishes
  7. Do this for every other game

The process will identify game corruption and re-download damaged files if it needs. 

Close Background Programs

You can decrease the load on your system by closing the programs you don’t need while you play.

  1. Press the Windows key + X and then click on Task manager from the drop-down menu.
  2. Then, right-click a redundant background task, and select End Task. I’ll leave the selection up to you, so make sure you’re closing programs you don’t need while playing. end task

Closing background programs relieve some tension. It’s the solution if your system is barely running games.

For example, I used to play Cyberpunk 2077 on a laptop with a 1060 NVIDIA card. It barely did the job, but it couldn’t use the Steam Overlay.

Update Your PC

As for updates, you have three general options. You can update Windows, your motherboard’s drivers, and your GPU’s drivers.

You should also ensure you have updated all major drivers (like GPU and VGA). It will improve the overall Steam performance.

Updating Windows

  1. Type Windows Update on the Windows search bar and Open Windows Update 
  2. Click on Check for updates check for updates
  3. If there’re updates available, let Windows do the process 

Updating Your GPU

If you have a discrete GPU (a graphics card rather than integrated graphics on your CPU), you have one of two brands. It’s either AMD or NVIDIA.

Each brand has software that controls driver updates and graphical settings. The program should be on your PC.

Either option offers software that automatically detects your GPU and puts you up to date.

Download and install the program. In particular, NVIDIA will ask you to create an account, but you can link your account from Google or Facebook. After the process, the software will guide you towards a driver update.

Typically, you’d find a “Driver Update” button on the software’s home page. check for update gpu driver

Updating the Motherboard’s Drivers

If you have a custom or built PC, you need some extra steps to update your motherboard.

Motherboards have drivers to improve their compatibility with the pieces you connect. These drivers depend on your motherboard brand and model, so guiding you through an exact tutorial is harder.

However, these are the general steps:

  1. Find your motherboard’s name on your PC’s manual or the motherboard’s box. If you built the PC yourself, you might know it.
  2. Browse for its drivers online as such: “-Motherboard name- drivers.”
  3. Click the official brand page motherboard driver
  4. If possible, select the Driver tab, and your operating system driver and operating system
  5. Download every driver, and install it one by one. These won’t create conflicts with your Windows drivers download motherboard drivers

Another way to check your motherboard’s name is like so:

  1. Type “command prompt” on the Windows search bar and open the Command Prompt
  2. Type “msinfo32” and press Enter msinfo32
  3. Check “BaseBoard Product” for the information base board product

Grant Administrator Access

The lack of administrator privileges is a common reason the Steam overlay doesn’t work. 

By default, Steam runs without administrator access, and here’s how to change it.

  1. Browse to your Steam directory. The default address is: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam steam folder
  2. Locate the Steam.exe file. It’s the main Steam launcher steam exe
  3. Right-click the launcher and select Properties properties steam exe
  4. Select Compatibility run-this-program-as-an-administator
  5. Check the “Run this program as an administrator” box
  6. Click Apply to save changes, and then OK to close the Properties menu
  7. Locate the file “GameOverlayUI.exe” in the same folder
  8. Right-click the file and select Properties properties game overlay steam
  9. Select the Compatibility tab
  10. Check the “Run this program as an administrator” box run as administrator steam overlay
  11. Click Apply to save changes, and then OK to close the Properties menu

These changes make both Steam and the Steam Overlay work with administrator privileges. 

Run the Game as Administrator

An alternative solution is opening the game directly from its installation folder.

It bypasses any bugs within the game, so this would be the fix if the Steam Overlay works on some titles but not others. 

  1. Navigate to the Steam directory. The default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam steam folder
  2. Go to Steamapps > Common
  3. The folder displays the Steam games on your PC. Select the game that’s giving you trouble
  4. Find the game’s.exe file. Commonly, it’s not within any folder. If you can’t find it on the initial address, search within folders like “Game,” “Bin,” “Win32,” or “Win64.”
  5. Right-click the game’s exe file and select Properties game exe properties
  6. Go to the Compatibility tab
  7. Check the “Run this program as administrator” tab run-this-program-as-an-administrator
  8. Click Apply and then OK
  9. Right-click the game’s exe file again
  10. Select Send to > Desktop (create shortcut) create desktop shortcut

Now, this particular game has a Desktop shortcut. Every time you click it, it will open Steam and open the game with administrator rights. Perhaps this can solve your problem. 

Add Steam as an Exception for Your Anti-virus

Your anti-virus software may be causing issues with the Steam Overlay as well.

The solution is adding the whole Steam folder as an exception. I use Windows Defender, so my tutorial follows the built-in software. You’d probably find similar options on your particular anti-virus program.

  1. Type Virus on your Windows search bar, and open “Virus & threat protection
  2. Under “Virus & threat protection settings,” click Manage settings manage-settings
  3. Scroll down to Exclusions, and click on Add or remove exclusions
  4. Click on Add an exclusion, and select Folder add-an-exclusion-folder
  5. Search for the Steam folder and select it select steam folder

This option should cease all anti-virus intrusions with Steam and Steam games. However, add the secondary folder if you have installed Steam games on a secondary drive. 

Reinstall Steam

If all else fails, you have to reinstall Steam. We’re teaching you how to do it without losing your games.

  1. Go back to your Steam folderCopy the Steamapps foldersteamapps folder
  2. Past the folder somewhere else on your computer. It could be on the desktop, a secondary drive, the downloads folder, or an external drive
  3. Now, uninstall Steam as usual, and then delete the Steam folder afterward
  4. Download and reinstall the platform
  5. Open it and log in with your credentials again. All of your library games will be there, ready for download
  6. Paste the older Steamapps folder into the new Steam folder
  7. Once you click on a game, it will check if you have it installed on your computer. In other words, you won’t need to download it again. 

Another way to do it is by copying the game’s folders instead (within Steampps – Common.) Then, let a game install on your new Steam download, but after a few seconds, paste the game’s folder, and re-try the downloads. 

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