How to launch Steam games in windowed mode

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Steam is a great game distribution platform that is developed by Valve.
  • Steam games can run in both fullscreen and windowed mode, but the latter needs some tweaking in order to enable.
  • We have many other troubleshooting guides, check out our dedicated Steam Fix page.
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How can i launch Steam games in windowed mode

The windowed mode feature in Steam can help the users run some legacy games on their computer which otherwise won’t run. It is also helpful in playing certain games with high system requirements on a low-end PC.

When launching certain games you may encounter errors like out of range. This issue can be fixed by launching the game in windowed mode.

Other reasons for running the game in windowed mode can be to fix performance issues that occur when launching the game in full screen.

In this article, we have listed the different methods to launch Steam games in Windowed mode to help you resolve performance issues and run legacy games.


How do I launch Steam games in windowed mode?

1. Check game settings

launch Steam games in windowed mode

  1. Launch the game that you want to launch in windowed mode.
  2. Go to display/video settings.
  3. Check if the game has a Display mode option.
  4. Click the drop-down menu and select windowed mode instead of fullscreen.
  5. Save the changes and relaunch the game.

Some games offer in-game settings change the display mode. If your game has in-game settings to change the display mode, you need not alter the launch parameters to open the game in windowed mode.

Before proceeding with other steps, make sure you check the game settings and apply the changes.


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2. Change Steam launch parameters

launch Steam games in windowed mode

  1. Open Steam if not already running.
  2. Open the Game Library tab.
  3. Right-click on your game and select Properties.
  4. Open the General tab.
  5. Click on the Set Launch Options button.
  6. It will open a new window with advanced user warning.
  7. Enter the following parameters to open the game in windowed mode.
    •  –windowed
  8. Click OK to save the changes and close the Properties window.
  9. Try launching the game and check if the game launches in windowed mode.
  10. If not, open the Launch Options window again and type the following parameters:
    • –windowed -w 1024
  11. Click OK to save the changes.
  12. The above parameter will force the game to launch in windowed mode with a set resolution.

Some games may not allow you to change the video settings or switch between the display modes. However, you can bypass this striction by changing the launch option parameters in Steam launch options.


3. Change game launch parameters

launch Steam games in windowed mode

  1. Right-click on the game desktop shortcut.
  2. Select Properties.
  3. In the Properties window, open the Shortcut tab.
  4. You should see a field called Target. The target field contains the original location of the shortcut with other parameters.
  5. Add the following parameter to the end of the target after the quotation mark:
     –windowed
  6. Click Apply and OK to save the changes.
  7. Launch the game using the desktop shortcut and it should open in the windowed mode.

Changing the game shortcut properties and adding the windowed parameter should open the game in Windowed mode.

If you are still unable to open the game in windowed mode, try the following.

  1. Launch the game that you want to open in windowed mode.
  2. Press Alt + Enter while in-game.
  3. This should open the game in Windowed mode.

While using the Alt + Enter key is more of a workaround, it seems to have fixed the issue for some users with certain games.

Launching certain Steam games may allow you to fix some performance and incompatibility issues with the game. Follow the steps in this article to launch Steam games in windowed mode. Let us know which method worked for you in the comments.


FAQs: Learn more about Steam windowed mode 

  • Can I delete my Steam cloud saves?

In short yes, but it is a complicated process. Refer to this in-depth guide on how to delete Steam Cloud saves.

  • How do I run a borderless window on Steam?

In Steam, open Game Library. Right-click on the game title and select Properties. In the General tab, click Set Launch Options. Type -popupwindow and click OK to save the changes.

  • Will Steam Windowed Mode affect my game performance?

It all depends on what kind of background processes are running on your PC at the moment of playing. If you want the best experience while gaming, use a PC optimizer for an extra boost.