How to Restart Steam

Gaming on PC

Having trouble with the Steam client? You may need to give it a quick restart (if you can and know how to). This guide will explain how to restart Steam on Windows and Mac.

The Steam gaming platform is one of the biggest (and best) platforms for gaming on a PC or Mac. It has thousands of games to choose from, whether a quick indie or a big-budget classic.

What happens if Steam stops working, though? If Steam is crashing, you may want to consider forcing it to restart—if you know how.

If you’re unsure how to restart Steam, follow the steps outlined below.

Use the Steam Client to Restart Steam

The easiest (and quickest) way to restart Steam is to use the Steam client. If the client is still responsive, you can exit the application from the client itself.

To exit and restart Steam:

  1. Open the Steam client by launching the app or accessing it from the taskbar (on Windows).
  2. In the Steam client, press Steam on the top menu bar.
  3. From the menu, select the Exit option.
    Exit Steam
  4. Acknowledge any additional on-screen pop-ups or instructions.
  5. Once Steam has exited, re-launch the Steam app and sign in (if required).

This will only work if Steam is responsive. If it isn’t, you’ll need to try a more drastic method to close and restart Steam.

Force Steam to Close

If you can’t get Steam to close gracefully, you’ll need to force close the app. The steps to do this will vary for Steam users on Windows or Mac.

On Windows

To force Steam to close on Windows:

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Task Manager.
    Launch Task Manager on Windows 11
  2. In the Task Manager window, press the Processes tab. If you can’t see this, press the More details button at the bottom.
  3. Locate the Steam or Steam (32-bit) process.
  4. Right-click the process and select End Task.
    End the running Steam process on Windows
  5. Look through the Processes list and identify any other related Steam processes (if they’re still running).
  6. If any other Steam processes are running (e.g., Steam Client Service), right-click that process and press End Task.
    End additional Steam processes on Windows

Once Steam is fully closed, re-launch the app via the Start menu.

On Mac

To force Steam to close on a Mac:

  1. Press the Apple menu icon on the menu bar at the top.
  2. From the menu, select the Force Quit option.
    Force quit menu on Mac
  3. In the Force Quit Applications menu, select Steam and press Force Quit.
    Force quit Steam on Mac
  4. Repeat the process a few seconds later if it doesn’t close immediately.

Once Steam exits, restart it by launching the Steam app via the Launchpad.

Refresh Steam Client Files Using Flushconfig

Steam instability can be caused by any number of issues, from a Steam service error to a specific error code. If you think the Steam client won’t restart because the client itself is corrupted after a game installation, you can use a special Steam command called flushconfig to reset it.

Using flushconfig will restart your Steam client, but it will also resolve any unknown issues with corrupted client files by wiping your download cache. If an installation doesn’t work and ends up causing Steam to become unstable, you can use flushconfig to fix the problem.

On Windows

To refresh Steam files using flushconfig on Windows:

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Run (or press the Windows key + R).
    Open Run on Windows 11
  2. In the Run dialog box, type steam://flushconfig in the box.
  3. Press OK to run the command.
    Flushconfig command for Steam in Windows Run box
  4. Steam will launch and ask you if you want to clear your cache files—press OK to continue.
    Clear Steam cache files
  5. Follow any additional instructions.

Steam will clear your cache, but you’ll be signed out of Steam, and the client itself will restart. Once Steam re-launches, sign back in to resume using it.

On Mac

There isn’t an exact equivalent for the Windows Run dialog on a Mac. You’ll need to use your web browser to run the Steam flushconfig command on a Mac.

To refresh Steam files using flushconfig on Mac:

  1. Open your web browser (such as Safari or Chrome).
  2. In the address bar, type steam://flushconfig and press the Enter key.
    Flushconfig command in Chrome on Mac
  3. If prompted, press Open Steam in your browser to confirm the launch of the command.
  4. Steam will launch and ask you to confirm you want to clear the cache files and restart, so press OK to confirm.
    Clear cache files on Mac
  5. Follow any additional instructions.

Steam will flush your cache and config files and restart at this point. When Steam re-launches, sign back in using your Steam credentials.

Enjoying Your Steam Library

You might be enjoying your favorite game, but if Steam is having trouble, you’ll need to start with the most common IT fixes—a quick restart. If you follow the steps above, you should be able to restart Steam quickly and get back in-game as soon as possible.

Are you having trouble downloading your favorite games? You might try increasing your Steam download speeds using a few common tricks.

If you prefer to keep your gameplay habits a secret, you can always hide your Steam gameplay activity. That way, only you will know what games you’re playing (unless you decide to let your Steam friends in on the act).

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