Steam Overlay is not working in Windows 10 [Expert Guide]

by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always... read more
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  • Steam is one of the most amazing apps for gamers, but it seems like the Overlay is sometimes not working.
  • You should first make sure that you run the latest version of Steam, with correct privileges.
  • A great option to use is disabling and re-enabling the Steam Overlay for individual games.
  • Steam Overlays might not work because of antiviruses restrictions, so you'll need to temporarily disable them.
steam overlay not working windows 10

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Is your Steam Overlay not working on Windows 10? Do not worry! Because it comes with several fixing solutions for this problem, today’s guide is perfect for you.

Steam is the largest digital platform for plenty of reasons and much more than a simple game digital distribution service. It offers a bag of useful features and makes the gaming experience so much more enjoyable.

One of those features is Steam Overlay which works in the background and allows players to communicate with their fellow gamers, coordinate, and share the mutual enjoyment of the playtime.

However, this feature isn’t as steady as one would assume. A lot of users reported that Steam Overlay is not working on Windows 10.

For that reason, we enlisted a hefty list of solutions. Have in mind that some of these apply to other Windows iterations, but our goal was to focus on Windows 10.

So if you’re stuck with Steam Overlay not working, make sure to check solutions and workarounds below.

Why is Steam Overlay not working on Windows 10?

Steam Overlay is a piece of the Steam user interface that can be activated over the top of almost any game launched through Steam. It lets you access the friends’ list, web browser, chat, and in-game DLC purchasing.

Because it is important to be aware of the most important causes that can get your Steam Overlay unable to work, we’ve compiled a list you should verify:

  • Wrong privileges – In order to get the best out of the Steam experience, it is always important to run the app with admin privileges. If your Steam Overlay is not working on Windows 10, we strongly recommend making sure that you’ve accessed it as an administrator.
  • Outdated app – Like any other soft or PC component, Steam needs to be constantly updated, so it will let you use any of its features without any problem. In addition, you should also update your OS.
  • Temporary glitches – In this case, we suggest disable and re-enable Steam Overlay for individual games. If this seems like not working, try reinstalling the app.
  • Antivirus or third-party app is blocking Steam Overlay – Antivirus software might sometimes be too protective, so it may block you from performing certain actions in Steam. The same might happen when a third-party app is running in the background. To easily solve this, you’ll probably need to temporarily disable them.

Although there are a few causes you should consider if Steam Overlay is not working, you’ll discover solutions for each of the above issues.

What can I do if Steam Overlay is not working on Windows 10?

1. Run the Steam client as an administrator

  1. Right-click on the Steam client’s desktop shortcut and open Properties.
  2. Choose the Compatibility tab.
  3. Check the Run this program as an administrator box and confirm changes.

This is a frequent suggestion on various forums and we advise you to follow it through if Steam Overlay is not working on Windows 10.

Even though most users who run the Steam client on Windows 10 do so with an administrative account, it’s still worth a try.

Also, we advise running the game through the Steam client instead of doing it directly from its shortcut.

2. Make sure you’re running the latest version

  1. Press on the Windows key, type Steam, then open the app.
  2. From the top-left corner of the app, click on Steam, then choose to Check for Steam Client Updates.
  3. Wait until updates are installed and restart Steam.

Issues with Steam Overlay are present for more than a few years, especially on the older Windows iterations.

Although, the client updates on its own once you start it, you can always check for updates manually, just in case something went wrong with the automatic updates.

3. Update Windows 10

  1. Press simultaneously on the following keys: Windows + I.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Stay on the Windows Update page, then from the right window pane, click on Check for updates.
  4. Wait until the process is done.

An additional reason for Steam Overlay issues might lie in Windows 10, so making sure that you have the latest update is of utmost importance.

And, of course, we suggest avoiding the insider versions of both Windows 10 and Steam. Beta programs are not stable and thus might result in stability and performance issues.

In addition, you can even roll back Windows 10 if the problem started after a major Windows Update.

  1. Use the following keyboard shortcut: Windows + I.
  2. Navigate to Update & Security.
  3. From the left window pane, click on Recovery.
  4. Choose to roll back Windows 10 to previous versions.

4. Disable and re-enable the Steam Overlay for individual games

  1. Hit the Windows key from your keyboard.
  2. Now, search for Steam, and open it.
  3. Look at the top-left corner of the window and click on Steam.
  4. Navigate to Settings.
  5. Choose In-game from the left pane.
  6. Check the Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game box and confirm changes.
  7. Now, open Library, from the top menu of the window.
  8. From the All section, right-click on the affected game, and open Properties.
  9. Check the Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game box and save changes.
  10. Restart Steam and start the game.

4. Kill the gameoverlayui.exe process

  1. Press on the Windows key, type Steam, then open it.
  2. Run the game you want.
  3. Use the following keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + Delete.
  4. Choose Task Manager.
  5. Under Processes, find gameoverlayui.exe and terminate it.
  6. Get back to the game and try pressing the Shift + Tab hotkey to access the Steam Overlay.

5. Add an exception to the antivirus firewall

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Once installed, the Steam client should be able to freely communicate through your antivirus firewall. However, that doesn’t need to be the case at all times.

In addition, a third-party firewall might block the Steam from network access, which also can be a problem starter. Now, you can either disable all firewalls while playing or create an exception in both the native and third-party firewalls.

However, completely disabling the firewall can expose your system to online threats. This is why we rather suggest you use a more powerful antivirus solution, with a reliable firewall.

To do so, it’s advised to choose an efficient antivirus with powerful security and without blocking Steam services. You can thus choose from the best antivirus programs for gaming PCs.

6. Disable other third-party applications while gaming

  1. Use the following keyboard shortcut: Windows + R.
  2. Type msconfig, then hit the Enter key.
  3. Under the Services tab, check the Hide all Microsoft services box.
  4. Click Disable all to disable all active third-party services.
  5. Now, select the Startup tab and go to Task Manager.
  6. Prevent all programs from starting with the system and confirm changes.
  7. Restart your PC.

As you can imagine, the Steam app is an exception, as it needs to run in the background for the Overlay to work in the first place.

But many users found out that certain third-party applications that work in the background can block the Steam Overlay.

Also, some of them might be triggered by the Shift + Tab shortcut which is the default for Steam’s feature.

However, if Steam Overlay is still not working on your Windows 10 PC, make sure you keep on reading.

7. Check the game integrity

  1. Press on the Windows key, type Steam, and open the app.
  2. From the app’s main menu, choose Library.
  3. Right-click on the affected game and open Properties.
  4. Select the LOCAL FILES tab.
  5. Finally, click on the VERIFY INTEGRITY OF GAME FILES…button.

This is to make sure that the game itself isn’t corrupted or includes incomplete files. However, if Steam Overlay is still not working, we have a couple more options you can try.

9. Reinstall the Steam client

  1. Use the following keyboard shortcut: Windows + I.
  2. Go to Apps.
  3. From the right side of the window, search for Steam.
  4. Click on it, then select Uninstall, and click again on Uninstall.
  5. Wait untill the process is completed.
  6. Navigate to the Steam download page.
  7. Fron the top-right corner of the window, click on Install Steam.
  8. Follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall the app.
  9. Open it, then input your credentials and log in.

Now that we’ve covered all (or a large majority) of possible issues and the last workaround we might suggest is to try and reinstall the Steam client

This is a hail mary attempt, but it just might work. Don’t forget that the corruption of the installation files is a possibility.

In addition, we suggest removing all configuration files and keeping only the installed games as re-downloading them can take a lot of time.

Once you’ve done that, give Steam another go. If the problem is persistent, there’s only so much you can do.

10. Try an alternative app

The final option is to move to another third-party application that offers similar features.

For the time being, Discord is holding its ground quite well and a lot of gamers use it to communicate with their fellow gamers.

There are some other alternatives, but in our opinion, Discord is more than worth a try.

With that said, we can conclude this article. If Steam Overlay is not working in Windows 10, make sure you follow the above steps carefully and you’ll get rid of this error in less than a few minutes.

If you have any additional questions or suggestions, feel free to tell us in the comments section below.

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