Valve’s Steam Music capabilities have been available to the general public since September 2014, although you’d be forgiven for not knowing about them. The Music Player included with Steam is a fairly basic utility, yet it is flexible enough that you might find it useful. This is especially true for those who use Steam as their primary gaming platform, especially those who have installed Steam plus Big Picture on a living room PC.
The Steam Music features are essentially the same in both ordinary Steam mode and Big Picture, but the method you utilise them differs slightly. This page will cover both modes, so you can skip on to the one you use in Steam.
On the desktop, Steam
When available, Steam will automatically retrieve game soundtracks from your games library and upload them to your music library. Although most individuals save their music elsewhere, it also fetches tracks from your Windows Music collection. By going to View > Music Details, you can see Steam’s music library, although this part will only show the default folders until you edit them in the Settings first.
To access the Music tab, go to Steam > Settings > Music. There are a few preset folders at the very top of the window. To identify the locations where you save your music, click “Add” and browse your computer. External drives can be put here as well. After that, click the “Scan Now” button to have Steam search the directories you just uploaded for music. Check the “Scan at startup” option below the “Database” heading if you often add tracks to those folders so that Steam may automatically update itself with the new songs. Before exiting the Settings, you might wish to tweak a few more settings, such as when Steam pauses your audio.
It’s simple to play your music once you’ve added it to Steam. To open the Steam Music Player, simply go to your music collection and double-click on any song. By selecting View > Music Player, you can also open the little utility on its own.
This music player is designed to be used while gaming, which is why it is so simple. When you press Shift + Tab while playing a game on Steam, the Steam Overlay appears, a transparent UI that provides numerous pieces of information as well as Valve’s utilities, like the music player.
This is very useful in games that don’t respond well to Alt + Tab, so you can listen to your music without constantly crashing the game.
Big Picture Mode on Steam
Big Picture offers a completely distinct interface that is designed for living room experiences, with everything controlled via a controller. Because the mode is a skin for Steam, rather than a separate software, anything you set up in regular mode automatically syncs with Big Picture.
Go to the Settings menu and select the Music option to add music to Big Picture Mode. You’ll see the same options as before, allowing you to add music from any folder with ease. Owners of Steam Machines will benefit from transferring their music to an external drive rather than directly to the PC/console hybrid.
To find your music, go to the Local Music area of the Library. There’s a list of albums there that you can listen to in their entirety or track by track
A music note icon will show in the top right corner of Big Picture while you are playing a song, allowing you to instantly access the music player. When you’re within a game, you can use the usual keyboard shortcut, the Xbox button on a 360 controller, or the Steam button on a Steam controller to enable the Steam Overlay. The music section will be located at the bottom of the page, and selecting it will launch the player.