Steam's wonderful Library Update beta is finally live: Here's how to get it

 pcworld.com  09/17/2019 19:35:00   Hayden Dingman

As promised, Valve pushed the new Steam Library Update into open beta this morning. Quick access to your recently played games! More detailed Details pages! Better library search and filtering tools! Drag-and-drop! No bezels on the left and right edges! All the modern conveniences and quality of life upgrades that (if were honest) probably shouldve been in Steam already. But damn, theyre nice to have now.

You can read our detailed breakdown of the Library Update and all its featuresor you can simply install it for yourself. If youre keen on a refreshed Steam and dont mind the potential for a few bugs along the way, all it takes is an opt-in to get into the beta.

Steam Library Update - Beta IDG / Hayden Dingman

Its pretty easy. You can go click the big Join The Beta button if you want to feel official, but really all you need to do is open Steam, go to the Settings menu (under Steam), and look for a section on the Account page that says Beta Participation. Click Change, and then on the drop-down menu choose Steam Beta Update.

Restart Steam, and youre in. Youll know it worked immediately, because the familiar Store screen will now stretch all the way to the left and right edges of the window, no bezel. Most of the key features are over on the Library tab though. Thats where youll be greeted by the new Home page, the redesigned sidebar, and so forth.

Change is good, sometimes. Having lived through hundreds of interface changes across countless programs, I feared the worst. Valves PAX demo assuaged those fears somewhat, but you never really know what will annoy you until youve tested it yourself.

Steam Library Update - Beta IDG / Hayden Dingman

So far Im very impressed though. The new interface is clean and reactive, and Im finding the new organizational tools fun to mess around with. Im not going to spend a ton of time recapping because, as I said, you can read about everything at length in our longer (albeit hands-off) impressions.

But there are a few smaller features I hadnt noticed in Valves demo. I like for instance that you can quickly toggle Collections (which used to be Categories) on and off, flipping between your organized library and a simpler alphabetical list of games. Theres also a Ready to Play button in the top-left that will quickly omit any uninstalled games from the list. And even with more than 2,000 games in my library, these sorting changes are snappy.

I also like the Sort by Recent Activity button, which gives you a month-by-month breakdown of the games youve played this year, and then a yearly breakdown after that. It goes back ages, too. Curious what you were playing in 2014? Steam can now show you.

Steam Library Update - Beta IDG / Hayden Dingman

That said, there are a few weird issues. You cantor at least I cant find a wayto sort by size anymore, which is a problem in an era where game sizes are rapidly ballooning. I used to change to Steams old list view and sort by install size every year or so to do some housecleaning, uninstall that 100GB game I was never going to finish. The loss of that functionality is pretty painful.

And its a beta. Ive definitely seen some behind-the-scenes code today as Ive clicked around, with trading card messages especially susceptible to breaking. Valves also transitioning to new box art for every game in your library, but old games? Ones that will probably never be updated? They get that Vaseline-smear above and below, the same frosted window look people use when uploading vertical video to a horizontal aspect ratio site like YouTube. It looks kind-of ugly.

Still, I cant see any reason not to update. Steams been stagnant for ages now. Its refreshing to see large-scale library changes, especially since thats one of the areas where Valve has a clear lead over the competing Epic Games Store. As someone whos amassed thousands of games on Steam, its a relief to finally have some control over my backlogor at least the illusion of control.

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