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How to make your windows gaming pc automatically boot to big picture mode (like a steam machine)

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.

You’ll probably want to do this with a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV so you can just power it on and use your controller without needing a keyboard or mouse.

Make Your Windows PC Log In Automatically

First, you’ll want to enable automatic login on your Windows 10 PC. This will ensure you won’t need a keyboard to type your password when you boot your PC — it’ll just boot right up and log in automatically.

We have cautioned against using automatic login for security reasons. When you enable automatic logins, your password will be stored in the Windows registry. For this reason, we recommend using a local user account. If you enable automatic logins for a Microsoft account, your Microsoft account password will be stored in the Windows registry — that’s not ideal from a security perspective. But, either way, that’s up to you.

When you have a user account you want to automatically log into, just press Windows Key + R to open the run dialog, type “netplwiz” into the box, and press Enter.

Select the user account you want to automatically sign in with in the list and uncheck the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” checkbox. Click “OK”.

Windows will ask you to enter the user account’s password so it can automatically log that user in.

Close the window and you’re done. Whenever your computer boots, Windows will automatically sign in with the user account you selected. If you want to switch to another user account, you can just log out and you’ll see the normal sign-in screen.

Have Steam Run at Login

Next, on that user account, launch Steam. If Steam asks you to sign in, enter your password and tell Steam to remember your password so you won’t have to sign in each time you boot up.

Click the “Steam” menu, select “Settings”, and click over to the “Interface” tab. Enable both the “Run Steam when my computer starts” and “Start Steam in Big Picture Mode” options.

You will see the Windows desktop appear when you boot. However, Steam will automatically launch and then take you to Big Picture Mode, so you won’t have to reach for a keyboard. You can use the Steam interface to launch games, browse the web, and chat with a controller.

To make your gaming PC boot faster and get to Big Picture Mode quicker, disable startup programs in the Task Manager.

If you want to leave Big Picture Mode, you can select the “Return to Desktop” option in the menu and get back to a Windows 10 desktop again.

The same trick will work on Mac OS X and Linux PCs running Steam, too. Just have your PC automatically log into your user account when it boots, have Steam launch at login, and have Steam launch in Big Picture Mode.

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.

You’ll probably want to do this with a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV so you can just power it on and use your controller without needing a keyboard or mouse.

Make Your Windows PC Log In Automatically

First, you’ll want to enable automatic login on your Windows 10 PC. This will ensure you won’t need a keyboard to type your password when you boot your PC — it’ll just boot right up and log in automatically.

We have cautioned against using automatic login for security reasons. When you enable automatic logins, your password will be stored in the Windows registry. For this reason, we recommend using a local user account. If you enable automatic logins for a Microsoft account, your Microsoft account password will be stored in the Windows registry — that’s not ideal from a security perspective. But, either way, that’s up to you.

When you have a user account you want to automatically log into, just press Windows Key + R to open the run dialog, type “netplwiz” into the box, and press Enter.

Select the user account you want to automatically sign in with in the list and uncheck the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” checkbox. Click “OK”.

Windows will ask you to enter the user account’s password so it can automatically log that user in.

Close the window and you’re done. Whenever your computer boots, Windows will automatically sign in with the user account you selected. If you want to switch to another user account, you can just log out and you’ll see the normal sign-in screen.

Have Steam Run at Login

Next, on that user account, launch Steam. If Steam asks you to sign in, enter your password and tell Steam to remember your password so you won’t have to sign in each time you boot up.

Click the “Steam” menu, select “Settings”, and click over to the “Interface” tab. Enable both the “Run Steam when my computer starts” and “Start Steam in Big Picture Mode” options.

You will see the Windows desktop appear when you boot. However, Steam will automatically launch and then take you to Big Picture Mode, so you won’t have to reach for a keyboard. You can use the Steam interface to launch games, browse the web, and chat with a controller.

To make your gaming PC boot faster and get to Big Picture Mode quicker, disable startup programs in the Task Manager.

If you want to leave Big Picture Mode, you can select the “Return to Desktop” option in the menu and get back to a Windows 10 desktop again.

The same trick will work on Mac OS X and Linux PCs running Steam, too. Just have your PC automatically log into your user account when it boots, have Steam launch at login, and have Steam launch in Big Picture Mode.

Whitson Gordon

PC gaming is great, but it’s a bit more complex than console gaming. You have a lot of different hardware to choose from, tweaks to increase performance and other ways to improve the experience — as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Here are our top 10 PC mods and tricks for better gaming.

10. Overclock Your Video Card

One of the easiest, (and free) ways to boost gaming performance is to overclock your video card . It’s pretty simple to do, doesn’t cost you a dime, and can cause noticeable improvements in performance. It won’t make an unplayable game playable, but it will allow your game run a little smoother or look a little nicer. You can overclock your CPU , too, but how much it will help depends on whether it’s even being taxed. Remember, there’s a sweet spot to everything: free software tweaks can only take you so far , but constantly upgrading your hardware can sometimes just be a waste of money .

9. Get Great Deals on Games

Unless you absolutely have to play that game on launch day, never pay full price for a PC game — they go on sale way too often! Everyone knows about the notorious Steam sales, and there are a lot of strategies to getting the best possible price during the blowout week (only buy a game if it’s a flash sale, daily deal, or if it’s the last day of the sale). But what a lot of people don’t do is look beyond Steam: places like Green Man Gaming and other sites often have even better prices and their games will activate on Steam as if you bought it from them. Oh, and make sure you know how long each game takes to beat, so you don’t buy more games than you can play!

8. Hook Up a Gamepad

I’m firmly in the mouse-and-keyboard camp, but some games are just better with a gamepad. The Xbox 360 is our favourite, but there are a lot of good options, and they’re easy to set up. Lots of games should actually support gamepads out of the box, but if one of your favourites doesn’t, you can use a tool like JoyToKey (on Windows) or Joystick Mapper (on the Mac) to make it work.

7. Organise Your Overflowing Steam Library

If you’re a PC gamer, chances are you use Steam to manage your games. And if you use Steam, chances are you have way too many games. Luckily, Steam actually has a few built-in features that can help you manage that overflowing list. You can manually add games to different categories and genres, or do it automatically with a tool like Depressurizer. Search is also useful, and Steam has a few different “Views” that can make it easier to browse in certain circumstances.

6. Back Up (and Sync) Your Saved Games

Ever had a hard drive fail with all your saved games on it? Or tried to play a game on another computer that didn’t have your progress on it? Steam’s built-in Cloud feature can sync some of your saved games, but it isn’t exactly reliable — and it doesn’t work with every game. Instead, try a tool like GameSave Manager, which can back up and sync your games with Dropbox. Alternatively, if you want to do it yourself — or GameSave Manager doesn’t support a specific game — you can easily sync those game saves manually with Dropbox.

5. Play the Classics, Even on a New PC

Sometimes you just need a good old dose of nostalgia and there are our guide to playing classic PC games for more info.

4. Roll Your Own Steam Machine with Big Picture Mode

Tired of sitting at your desk to play games? Want to have the couch potato comfort of console gaming with the tweakability of PC gaming? You need a Steam Machine. Steam Machines aren’t available for purchase yet, but you don’t need one — you can just turn an existing PC into a Steam Machine with Windows and Steam’s Big Picture mode. You’ll get the huge game library of Windows with the couch-optimised Big Picture, and you can hook up a gamepad (see #8) for the perfect couch experience. Alternatively, you can install the SteamOS beta on your living room PC for a pure Steam Machine experience, with streaming features included.

3. Load Up on Mods

One of the best things about PC gaming is the mods. Don’t like something about your game? Chances are someone’s created an installable mod to tweak it. Mods can make the game’s graphics look amazing, make the menus more usable, or even add on entirely new features and missions. It can even add modern features to retro games. Modding every game is a little different, so check out places like Steam Workshop, Nexus mods and ModDB for info on all your favourite games.

2. Get Some Awesome Hardware

A well-built gaming PC can go a long way, but there’s more to hardware than the guts of your computer. Want better, more responsive controls? Get an awesome mouse and keyboard. Want a nicer-looking picture? Upgrade your monitor. Want to really hear your games? Get a great pair of headphones. If you play online, grab a gaming headset or add an attachable microphone to your headphones . And if your computer is too loud, keep the noise down with controllable fans or water cooling.

1. Tweak Your Settings for Optimal Graphics (and Performance)

At the end of the day, you can only buy so much new hardware and overclock it so far. Unless you spend thousands of dollars, you probably won’t be able to max out the graphics settings on every game you play. So what’s a gamer to do? Find the perfect settings for your hardware, of course! Learning what each setting does may seem time consuming, but it makes the process a lot easier — you’ll know which ones cause the biggest performance hit, which ones are worth the trouble, and get a game perfectly suited to your tastes. If you hate tweaking, you could just try a preset like “Medium” that works, though there are also a few apps out there that can try to find the perfect settings for you. They usually work ok, but are usually a good starting point more than anything — for the optimal settings, a little manual tweaking can go a long way.

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

Do you always boot your computer at the same time each day? You can have it automatically power on at a time of your choice so it’s ready to go when you sit down in front of it.

This may seem unnecessary with modern PCs that boot quickly, but we love automating tasks. This could be useful to have your PC automatically boot in the middle of the night to run downloads at off-hours, too.

Look for an Option in Your PC’s BIOS or UEFI

This option is available on many PCs, but not all of them. Whether this option is available (and what it looks like) depends on your PC’s hardware.

To find the option, you’ll need to visit your PC’s UEFI or BIOS settings screen. (UEFI is the modern replacement for the traditional PC BIOS.) To access it, restart your computer and press the appropriate key during the boot process—it’s often F11, Delete, or Esc. It may be displayed on your computer during the boot-up process or your PC may boot too quickly to display the screen.

On some PCs, you may instead have to select a “UEFI Firmware Settings” option under Troubleshoot > Advanced Options on Windows 10’s advanced boot options screen. Hold the “Shift” key while clicking the “Restart” option in Windows 10 to access the boot options.

For more information on how to access the UEFI or BIOS settings screen, consult your computer’s manual. If you assembled your own PC, consult the motherboard’s manual.

In the UEFI or BIOS settings screen, look for an option that will boot your PC on a schedule. On an HP PC we have, the option was under Advanced > BIOS Power-On.

Here, we can choose a power-on time and which days of the week it applies to.

The available options and what they’re called will depend on your PC. The option won’t be available on all PC configurations, so your PC may not offer it.

For example, Lifehacker‘s David Murphy found this option at Advanced Settings > APM Configuration > Power On By RTC. (Those acronyms refer to “Advanced Power Management” and “Real-Time Clock,” respectively.) You may have to do some digging in the setup screen to find it.

How to Log In and Run Programs Automatically

If you want to save extra time—or ensure your PC runs specific applications and tasks when it boots—you can change some extra settings.

To have your PC automatically sign into the Windows desktop when it boots, you can set Windows 10 to sign in to an account automatically. This option has some security drawbacks, but it’s available and it’s your decision whether you want to use it.

You can also have Windows automatically start any program when you sign in. Here’s how to add your own preferred programs to the Windows startup process.

With Windows set to start, sign in, and launch programs automatically at a specific time, you can have your PC do more than just boot automatically—you can automatically accomplish and start tasks at a specific time.

How to Make Your PC Wake From Sleep Automatically

If there’s no option to enable automatic startup in your PC’s BIOS or UEFI setting screen, you can have your PC wake from sleep automatically. This is also useful if you put your PC to sleep when you aren’t using it.

To set this up, use the Task Scheduler to create a task that wakes your computer at a customizable time. You’ll have to enable “wake timers” in Windows, too, or the task won’t activate. Once you have, you can put your PC to sleep and it’ll wake at your chosen time.

You will learn how to easily boot computer step by step, widely used in cloned/restored hard drive or a fresh installed disk.

By Ivy / Last update October 22, 2021

What does it means to boot computer?

Computer booting means a process of starting a computer with operating system installed on it. During the booting process, it will load some software in main memory (also called ransom access memory ) required to start Windows by hardware or firmware (MBR or UEFI) in the CPU. Let’s look at the booting process in details.

First, press the power button of a computer to start up the power supply.

Next, the basic input-output system(BIOS) on the read-only memory(ROM) will be loaded, and it will start to check if all the hardware is working properly, the process is also called power-on self test(POST).

Then, the BIOS will start to find the bootable device through the boot sequence and boot loader or volume boot record (VBR) on the active primary partition, usually located in the first 512-byte sector.

After that, the boot loader or VBR will initial and execute the operating system boot loader files, such as, io.sys, ntldr, bootmagr, to load the operating system and its kernel, system drivers, applications, or commands required for the boot process.

Finally, Just wait the file loading process, then you will see a boot screen including all the information of the computer and a prompt to enter the BIOS setup. Set the right boot order in BIOS to start your computer.

Unlike BIOS, UEFI does not rely on boot sectors, UEFI system loads the .efi files of boot loader directly, and the OS kernel is loaded by the boot loader.

The boot process looks complicated, doesn’t it? Not actually, because your computer will perform all the operations automatically in the background before you see the boot screen. Then, the rest is just a piece of cake. Check them in the following.

If your computer is a desktop

Step 1. Completely shutdown your desktop computer, otherwise the disk may be burn out. Then, install the new disk on the extra drive bay using screwdriver, it can be a cloned/restored drive, or freshed installed disk.

Step 2. Click the power button to restart your computer.

Step 3. Then, you may see a black screen with words like “Windows is loading files. ”. Just wait until you see the way to enter BIOS, press the specific key, it’s usually F11, f1, F2, F8,F9, f10, ESC, DEL etc.

Step 4. Your computer will enter the legacy BIOS if the destination disk is a MBR disk, and you will see several tabs at the top. Go to the Boot tab and set the new hard drive as first boot option in Legacy Boot Option Priority option or similar option.

Step 5. Save changes and reboot your computer to access the desktop. Then, check if all your content are intact.

If your computer is a laptop

Unlike the booting process of desktop computer, laptop will be a little tricky, because most of them only have one drive bay. Therefore, you need to swap hard drive in laptop with new hard drive first, it can be a cloned/restored hard drive or fresh installed disk, then boot just like a desktop computer.

Step 1. Completely shutdown your computer, and open the laptop back panel to access your hard drive.

Step 2. unscrew the screws holding hard drive in the computer and put them into a safe case, so you can easily get them later.

Step 3. Take out the old hard drive at a 30 or 45 degree angle.

Step 4. Install the new hard drive on your laptop. Slide the new hard drive in at an angle just like the way you take it out and push it firmly into place where the old hard drive is located, so it’s fully connected to the interface. Then, secure the hard drive with removed screws earlier and put back the laptop panel.

Step 5. Reboot your laptop computer from the new hard drive.

That’s all the booting process of computer step by step with picture, you may already start computer from the new hard drive. But if the cloned or restored hard drive won’t boot, you could check the given solutions in previous link and then try them one by one. Also, if there are any problem related to our product or technical issues, you could contact us via [email protected]

Choose UEFI or legacy BIOS modes when booting into Windows PE (WinPE) or Windows Setup. After Windows is installed, if you need to switch firmware modes, you may be able to use the MBR2GPT tool.

In general, install Windows using the newer UEFI mode, as it includes more security features than the legacy BIOS mode. If you’re booting from a network that only supports BIOS, you’ll need to boot to legacy BIOS mode.

After Windows is installed, the device boots automatically using the same mode it was installed with.

To boot to UEFI or BIOS:

Open the firmware menus. You can use any of these methods:

Boot the PC, and press the manufacturer’s key to open the menus. Common keys used: Esc, Delete, F1, F2, F10, F11, or F12. On tablets, common buttons are Volume up or Volume down (find more common keys and buttons). During startup, there’s often a screen that mentions the key. If there’s not one, or if the screen goes by too fast to see it, check your manufacturer’s site.

Or, if Windows is already installed, from either the Sign on screen or the Start menu, select Power ( ) > hold Shift while selecting Restart. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware settings.

From the firmware menus, boot to a drive or network while in UEFI or BIOS mode:

On the boot device menu, select the command that identifies both the firmware mode and the device. For example, select UEFI: USB Drive or BIOS: Network/LAN.

You might see separate commands for the same device. For example, you might see UEFI USB Drive and BIOS USB Drive. Each command uses the same device and media, but boots the PC in a different firmware mode.

Some devices only support one mode (either UEFI or BIOS). Other devices will only allow you to boot to BIOS mode by manually disabling the UEFI security features. To disable the security features, go to Security > Secure Boot and disable the feature.

Some older PCs (Windows 7-era or earlier) support UEFI, but require you to browse to the boot file. From the firmware menus, look for the option: “Boot from file”, then browse to \EFI\BOOT\BOOTX64.EFI on Windows PE or Windows Setup media.

UEFI and BIOS modes in WinPE

Detect if WinPE is booted into BIOS or UEFI Mode

Query the registry to determine which mode the device is in. You can do this from the command line:

Return code Firmware mode
0x1 BIOS
0x2 UEFI

Use it in a script:

Note that between delims= and ” %%A is a tab, followed by a space.

Make sure you boot into the right mode every time

Here are a couple of ways you can make sure you’re booted into the right firmware mode every time you start your PC.

Use preformatted hard drives, and use a method that doesn’t automatically format the drive.

If you want to ensure that your drive boots into a certain mode, use drives that you’ve preformatted with the GPT file format for UEFI mode, or the MBR file format for BIOS mode. When the installation starts, if the PC is booted to the wrong mode, Windows installation will fail. To fix this, restart the PC in the correct firmware mode.

Remove the UEFI or BIOS boot files

If you want a PC to only boot into a certain mode, you can remove the files that Windows PE or Windows Setup use to boot in UEFI or BIOS mode. Remove the following files, depending on the mode you want to boot to.

Boot only when in UEFI mode

Remove the bootmgr file from the root of the Windows PE or Windows Setup media. This prevents the device from starting in BIOS mode.

Boot only when in BIOS mode

Remove the efi folder from the root of the Windows PE or Windows Setup media. This prevents the device from starting in UEFI mode.

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux all allow you to schedule boot-ups, shut-downs, and wake-ups. You can have your computer automatically power up in the morning and automatically shut down at night, if you’d like.

This is less necessary than ever thanks to sleep mode — a typical laptop just enters low-power sleep mode it can quickly resume from when it’s not being used — but may still be useful for desktop PCs.

Windows

Windows allows you to set boot-up and shutdown times through the Task Scheduler. Scheduled tasks can run the “shutdown” command, shutting down your computer at a specific time. You could also run other commands to put the computer to sleep or hibernate it. Here are the commands you’ll need:

  • Shut Down: shutdown.exe -s -t 00
  • Hibernate: rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState
  • Sleep: rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState 0,1,0

Through the magic of the task scheduler, you can even have Windows wait until you’re no longer using your computer to shut it down. It won’t automatically shut down on you while you’re using it if you stay up a bit late one night.

You can also create scheduled tasks that wake your computer from sleep. Assuming your computer is sleeping, and not fully shut down — you can put it to sleep yourself or use a scheduled task that puts it to sleep — this schedueld task when wake your computer up.

Mac OS X

This option is available in the System Preferences window on a Mac. Click the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then click the Energy Saver icon in the System Preferences window.

Click the “Schedule” button at the bottom of the Energy Saver preferences and use the options here to schedule a startup or wake time for your Mac. You can also schedule a Sleep, Restart, or Shut Down time and choose which day of the week your scheduled times are used for — weekdays, weekends, a specific day, or all days of the week.

If you have a MacBook, the scheduled startup will only occur when it’s plugged in. This prevents battery drain and ensures your laptop won’t decide to boot up when it’s sitting in a bag somewhere.

Linux

The rtcwake command allows you to schedule wake-ups on Linux. This command puts your computer to sleep, hibernates it, or shuts it down while specifying a time it should wake up again. You could run the appropriate rtcwake command when you go to bed, and it will automatically boot back up at your scheduled time.

The rtcwake command can also be used just to schedule a startup time, but not to put your computer to sleep immediately. Put it to sleep or shut it down on your own schedule and it will wake up when you decide it should.

To fully automate this, you could create one or more cronjobs that run the rtcwake command at a specific time.

Wake-on-LAN

All types of computers can accept “Wake-On-LAN,” or WoL, magic packets. Support for Wake-on-LAN is baked into a computer at the BIOS or UEFI firmware level, below the operating system itself. When using Wake-on-LAN, a computer that’s shut down or asleep continues providing power to its network interface. This is usually a wired Ethernet connection, but you can also set a computer to accept Wake-on-LAN packets sent over Wi-Fi. When it receives an appropriately crafted packet, it will wake the computer back up again.

This option is generally enabled by default on desktop computers, but it may not be enabled on laptop computers to save battery power — especially not on the Wi-Fi interface. You’ll have to ensure Wake-on-LAN is enabled on your computer first and try it out.

Once you have Wake-on-LAN working, you could set up a device to send Wake-on-LAN packets to other devices on a schedule. For example, we’ve covered using a router running DD-WRT to send Wake-on-LAN packets on a schedule, allowing you to wake any device from your router and configure all the wake times in one place.

By default, most computers will automatically put themselves to sleep or hibernate after a certain amount of time when they’re not being used. If you want your computer to stay running even when you’re not there, change its settings so it won’t automatically sleep or hibernate.

An updated controller-friendly layout for Steam

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Share All sharing options for: Valve will replace Big Picture mode with the new Steam Deck UI

Big Picture, the mode that converts Steam’s user interface into a more console-like design better suited to TVs and controllers than monitors and mice, may not be long for this world. According to austinp_valve, a Valve employee posting on the Steam community forums, the plan is for the new UI from the just-announced Steam Deck handheld PC to replace Big Picture mode on the desktop version of Steam as well.

Valve announced Big Picture mode in 2011 and released it the following year. The mode formed the basis of the UI for SteamOS, the version of Linux that shipped on console-style devices that were part of Valve’s ill-fated Steam Machine project. With the Steam Deck running an all-new version of the operating system called SteamOS 3.0, it makes sense that the redesigned UI would make its way back to the PC client — especially since Big Picture has felt outdated for quite some time.

SteamOS 3.0 on Valve’s Steam Deck.

Valve isn’t giving an ETA for when the new UI will make its way to existing PCs. The Steam Deck is set to start shipping in December, though the level of demand has meant that new orders are being pushed out to midway through next year.

Steam Machines could be the PC that time passed by. These small computers, designed for streaming games in your living room, were intended as an alternative platform for gamers during the dark years of Windows 8. But what actually happened—or rather, didn’t happen—with Steam Machines makes their future uncertain.

The time for Steam Machines was ripe—over two years ago, when the dramatically altered Windows 8 threw everyone for a loop. Valve founder Gabe Newell called the new OS “a catastrophe,” “this giant sadness,” and “unusable.” He wasn’t the only one: Minecraft’s Notch and Blizzard’s Rob Pardo also slammed it. PC gaming companies feared Windows would eventually become a completely locked-down platform, where software could be distributed only from a central, walled-off Windows Store—like Windows RT was.

It’s no surprise that Valve decided to focus its efforts on getting Steam on Linux, porting all of its games to run on the open-source operating system, encouraging other big-name game developers to support Linux, and creating Linux-based Steam Machines.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 event in January specifically featured Steam and a long section devoted to gaming.

Here’s the problem: Steam Machines have suffered from a long delay and have yet to materialize. In the interim, the core message of Steam Machines has fallen apart, to the point that PC makers themselves are complaining about the confusion.

Want to stay up-to-date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has gotten its act together and is making an effort to embrace PC gaming with Windows 10. The company’s recent Windows 10 announcement featured PCs running Valve’s mega-popular Steam client. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer recently told Polygon that “Microsoft had met with the people at Valve to make sure they were onboard with Windows 10.” DirectX 12 is looking great, and even the cheapest of dirt-cheap set-top boxes are enabling real-time streaming of PC games to your TV.

Hey: Valve’s Gabe Newell did publicly call Valve’s focus on Linux “a hedging strategy.” Valve may still be trying to develop Steam Machine, and some expect new announcements at the Game Developer’s Conference in March. But given Microsoft’s recovery, it’s possible that Steam Machines have missed their window of opportunity.

Steam for Linux surged in the wake of Valve’s SteamOS announcement.

Game streaming is becoming commoditized

Windows 10 isn’t the only thing threatening to stall Steam Machines. It’s also losing the features war. A Linux-based Steam Machine in your living room might not be able to play all those Windows games, but you could supplement that by streaming your full library of Steam games from your Windows gaming PC to your Steam Machine. Or you could just get a lower-power, cheaper Steam Machine and use it exclusively for game-streaming from your PC to your living room.

But even that has become less interesting and more commoditized. Microsoft is looking at streaming PC games to an Xbox One, so at some point you may be able to buy an Xbox One for $350 and get the ability to play both Xbox One games and stream games to it from your PC. Razer’s Android-based Forge TV console allows you to stream games from a PC to your TV, and it’ll be available soon for only $100. It also isn’t so tied to Steam, so it’ll help you stream non-Steam games to your TV with less hassle. The same goes with NZXT’s $100 Doko box.

Razer’s $100 Forge TV not only streams ANY PC game, but it is also a fully functional Android TV machine.

Heck, even Intel’s cheap “Compute Stick” HDMI dongles could be used for game-streaming. Game-streaming alone can’t sell Steam Machines anymore. You don’t even need new hardware to beam the power of your primary gaming PC into your living room! Pretty much any Windows, Linux, or Mac computer that can run Steam can run Steam’s powerful in-home streaming feature.

One bright spot in the Steam Machine saga grew out of some interesting tidbits Origin PC CEO Kevin Wasielewski told to GameSpot recently.

The final iteration of the Steam Controller will likely look very different from this initial concept render.

According to Wasielewski, Valve is about to show off a revamped version of the Steam Controller, and it should be going into production soon. The Steam Controller has a lot of promising features that could provide a better experience when playing games designed for a mouse and keyboard on a TV.

The term “Steam Machine” doesn’t look too healthy, though. As Wasielewski said, “I think that’s pretty much dead. It’s like ‘living room PC’ is now the new term. Living room PCs have been around forever. That’s not anything new either. But it seems like there’s a legitimate demand and push for living room PCs.” Perhaps like Origin’s own Omega PC.

Where does that leave the Linux-based SteamOS? Many PC gamers might expect their “living room PCs” to run all the (Windows) PC games they’ve purchased on Steam, after all. The Alienware Alpha living-room PC—originally supposed to be a Steam Machine—is a good example of how a Windows-based Steam-gaming living-room PC might look.

The Alienware Alpha isn’t quite a console killer but it may be the best deal in small gaming PCs today.

SteamOS development hasn’t halted, of course. But Valve may be less committed to Linux and SteamOS, as the company’s extracted key concessions from Microsoft.

This isn’t the final word

Despite all we’ve said, there’s still ample room for SteamOS to make an impact, as Alienware general manager Frank Azor told PCWorld ahead of last year’s E3:

“SteamOS is obviously been designed around one single use, whereas Windows is a multi-use operating system that can be custom tailored around any one particular use—as we’re doing [with Alienware Alpha’s console mode]. But Valve has a lot more control developing SteamOS, ensuring it’s singularly focused with one use model. That’s why it’s a very important initiative for us, and one we’re still fully supporting as soon as it’s ready. It’s a more sustainable way of delivering a reliable living room experience. We can build our custom [console UI] interface over Windows, but we don’t know what [the next version of Windows] is going to be. Are we going to have to redo all that work…?

That’s why we feel that over the long term, SteamOS and the Steam gamepad are going to be the best solution.”

We’ll have to see what happens. But, for we Linux geeks who were expecting Windows to crater as Valve’s SteamOS ripped PC gaming away from Windows, it’s increasingly looking like Steam Machines may have missed their chance to rip PC gaming out of Microsoft’s hands.

Steam requires an internet connection if you want to play any game’s multiplayer or play online against friends. There are dedicated servers allocated in each region. You connect to the region nearest to you and the algorithm sets up matchmaking according to the people who are also connected to that server.

Steam also has an option of an offline mode where you can play the games which are installed offline against bots or you can pursue the single player campaigns available. There are many cases where Steam fails to enter the offline mode. There is also a fact that Steam doesn’t allow the usage of offline mode for consecutive 2 weeks unless you connect with the internet. It has a type of timer and after 2 weeks, you cannot access the offline mode.

For the cases where you can’t launch offline mode before 2 weeks, we have listed down the solution you can perform to fix the problem.

Before we continue, I would like to clarify that these solutions are meant to work IF you have your credentials saved in Steam. Meaning you have “Remember password” box checked when you logged into Steam the last time. If you don’t, there is no remedy present and you have to go online once in order to start it in offline mode later on. We have already listed on how to enable “Remember me” in solution 3. Scroll to it and see if you have checked the correct box; if you have, you can follow the solutions listed below.

Solution 1: Change the date

Like we mentioned before, Steam has a date counter. After it is over, you have to connect to the internet to reset it again. Many users reported that changing the date to a week earlier on their PC solved the problem and they we able to launch the offline mode with ease. This solution may or may not work, but, it is worth a shot before resorting to more technical methods.

  1. Press Windows + R button to launch the Run application. In the dialogue box type “ms-settings:”. This will launch the Settings applications.
  1. Once in the Settings application, look for the option named “Time & Language”. It should be somewhere in the middle.
  1. After clicking the option, you will be taken to the Date and Time menu. By default, your pc will have “Set time automatically” and “Set time zone automatically” checked. Uncheck them and click on the option which says “Change date and time”.
  1. After you click Change, a new window will pop up where you can change the date as well as time. Change the date to one week or a few days early and save changes.
  2. Launch your Task Manager by pressing ⊞ Win + R button. This should launch the Run application.

In the dialogue box write “taskmgr”. This should open up the task manager.

  1. End all Steam related processes starting from the process ‘Steam Client BootStrapper’. If there are no Steam processes active already, proceed to the next step.
  1. Re-launch Steam. If your Steam is able to start in offline mode, well and good. If not, resort to the other solutions listed below.

Solution 2: Opening from main game folder

Another remedy is to open the game you are playing directly from its installation folder. We can try bypassing the Steam client and force the game to open without the internet connection.

  1. Open your Steam directory. The default location of it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam. Or if you installed Steam in another directory, you can browse to that directory and you will be good to go.
  2. Navigate into the following folders

I have 2 graphics cards in my laptop (Alienware M11X); the first is the default Intel graphics card, and the second is a high perf Nvidia card.

I would like to play my Steam games with the Nvidia card (namely Half Life 2, Ep1), but it keeps playing with the Intel card. This is what is shown everytime I start the game:

I have tried starting steam.exe with the Nvidia card, but that doesn’t change the card the game uses. I have also tried setting the Nvidia card to the default card to use for all programs, but the game still does not use it. Is there a way for me to do this?

7 Answers 7

I have a similar computer set up, and here is how I make it work:

Go to the NVIDIA Control Panel by right clicking on your desk top and clicking on “NVIDIA Control Panel”.

In the default screen that pops up (it should be “manage 3D settings”, and the “Program Settings” tab should be automatically selected), under “1. Select a program to customize:” hit the “Add” button.

From here, navigate to the folder where your steam games are located. For me, it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common.

Select the folder for the game you want to use your NVIDIA card for, and find the .exe for that game (it’s usually right in the main game folder). Select it and hit open.

Then, under “2. Select the preferred graphics processor for this program:” open the drop-down menu and select “High-performance NVIDIA processor”.

Finally, hit apply in the far bottom right corner, and you should be good to go!

When you start the game from Steam, the .exe will be opened, which will now run with your NVIDIA card by default rather than your integrated card. I’ve noticed that most older games, when started, will use the integrated card by default. The method described above can be used for any .exe file, not just games in your steam library!

If there’s a future for the consumer version of Windows, it probably involves a lot of gaming. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggested as much to industry analysts in January, calling out PC gaming is a key pillar of the company’s consumer strategy.

But while Microsoft has already tried to boost PC gaming in Windows 10 with features like Game Mode, a free game recording tool, and DirectX 12, the company could go even further as it starts offering more specialized versions of Windows. We already know Microsoft will offer a stripped-down “S Mode” for Windows next year, and the company is also reportedly considering an “Advanced” version of Windows 10 Home with new features for higher-end hardware. Instead of being a one-size-fits-all operating system, Windows is becoming one that adapts to different uses.

So here’s an idea: Instead of treating gaming as a mere feature of Windows, why not make it the primary focus in a gaming edition of Windows 10? Similar to how the “Pro” version of Windows offers extra security and device management features for business users, a Windows 10 Gaming Edition could offer features that only make sense for PC gamers. This version could cost a bit more than a standard version of Windows 10, but would also eliminate elements that gamers might not want.

Here’s how it all could work.

Usability tweaks

Mentioned in this article

Xbox One S Wireless Controller

In this theoretical version of Windows, games would be faster to launch and easier to mange. Recent games and Xbox Live activity could appear directly on the Windows 10 lock screen for quick access. Microsoft could also greatly expand the Game Bar overlay that appears when you press Win-G or the center button on an Xbox controller. While the current Game Bar shows just a few screen capture and broadcast options, an expanded version would resembled the Xbox One Guide with recent games, friend activity, achievements, and messages.

Jared Newman / IDG

Who needs shortcuts to calendar appointments and email alerts when you could start playing games instead?

To go a step further, this version of Windows could offer a full-screen game launcher similar to the Xbox One home screen and Steam’s Big Picture Mode. This would allow users to launch games from any source—not just the Microsoft Store (formerly known as the Windows Store)—along with media apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. The entire interface would be optimized for both controller and mouse-and-keyboard input, allowing you to build a living room PC that’s more powerful and open than any Xbox console.

Better performance

Microsoft’s Game Mode already squeezes out modest performance gains by minimizing background processes and granting more CPU threads and GPU cycles to gaming. A Windows 10 gaming edition could adopt the “Ultimate Performance” mode coming to Windows 10 for Workstations in the future, and make further improvements by optimizing the PC’s software and hardware in other ways.

The Ultimate Performance power plan.

For starters, Microsoft could remove all of its own bloatware that takes up space and distracts from gaming. That means no more “Get Office” nags, pre-installed productivity apps like OneNote, bloatware like Candy Crush, or “Suggested Apps” like Flipboard.

More monitors FTW

LG 32MA70HY-P 32-inch full HD IPS monitor

Microsoft could also offer more performance tweaks when it recognizes that a game is running. The company has already hinted at an enhanced Game Mode, which might curb memory use by non-gaming applications and stop them from hogging network bandwidth. And for multi-monitor setups, Windows could automatically turn off the second screen, then restore it to its former condition after the gaming session concludes. (You can currently use the Win-P shortcut to disable extra monitors manually, but Windows forgets your app positioning whenever you do so.)

Perhaps a Windows 10 gaming edition could even offer some built-in overclocking and framerate monitoring tools. While third-party software already exists for these purposes—including the highly-regarded MSI Afterburner and Fraps—a Microsoft version could integrate with Game Mode to ensure that overclocking only occurs while gaming. Users could also tweak their settings through Microsoft’s existing game overlay menu instead of having to switch out to a separate app. Microsoft might even be able to suggest the best overclock settings for your machine, drawing on all the data the company has about PC setups and usage.

MSI’s Afterburner is an invaluable tool for overclocking, but there’s room for Microsoft to offer something simpler.

Mod support

While most of the ideas above could apply to all games regardless of source, Microsoft is clearly trying to push its own Microsoft Store over other storefronts such as Steam, GOG, and Origin. The problem is that the Microsoft Store and Universal Windows Platform games still have all kinds of fundamental problems, including forced Xbox Live integration, no refund policy (despite some pilot testing last year), and no support for multiple graphics cards.

But perhaps the biggest issue with the Windows Store is its lack of mod support. Although Microsoft hinted at a form of modding for Windows Store games back in 2016, the company has been quiet on the topic ever since. Ostensibly, the company is concerned that an anything-goes mod system would invite malware, and that the risks aren’t worth the potential rewards.

A gaming edition of Windows 10 would be the perfect venue for casting those worries aside and creating a system for Windows Store mods. Even if it’s a limited system like Valve’s Steam Workshop, mod support in the Windows Store would help create some goodwill among PC gamers, while also making store exclusives like Halo Wars 2 ($40 on the Microsoft Store) and Gears of War 4 ($40 on the Microsoft Store) a lot more interesting.

A managed system for mods like Steam Workshop would give Microsoft’s Windows Store more credibility.

Granted, Microsoft could offer a lot of these features in Windows 10 without spinning them into a separate version, but at some point the company would just be creating unwanted bloat for the rest of its users. Besides, there are signs that the PC gaming business is still growing, even as the overall PC market declines. As Microsoft tries to make Windows 10 more adaptable with new versions and “Modes,” it’s about time PC gaming got some special attention.

This article described by MiniTool official web page mainly teaches you how to use game controllers as computer mouse and keyboard, including Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, DualShock, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, etc.

With the development of television and the 4K technology application, many game players choose to play PC games on their large 4K TV. In such a situation, if they turn their game controller (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS5, PS4, PS3, DS4, Switch, Wii U, etc.) into a computer mouse while playing on TV, they can enjoy their gaming more.

Then, how to use game controller as mouse and keyboard? In general, you should rely on third-party services like Steam, Controller Companion, Gopher360, and InputMapper.

#1 How to Use Steam Controller as Mouse?

Steam’s built-in Big Picture Mode is designed to play PC games on the TV screen. It gives you an interface that you can navigate with a controller, gamepad, or game stick. If you have installed Steam on your gaming computer, you already have this feature.

Steam enables some shortcuts known as “Chords” – combinations of buttons on your gamepad that map to certain functions on your PC.

Use Xbox One Controller as Mouse

Let’s take Xbox One controller for example. If you have an Xbox 1 controller connected, you can press and hold the Xbox button while moving the right stick to move the mouse pointer; hold the Xbox button and press the right trigger to click; hold the Xbox button and press the left trigger to right-click.

If you want to use controller as mouse for more than a few random clicks, you may need to enable full controller support on the desktop. To achieve that, follow the below steps.

  1. In Steam, go to Settings > Controller > General Controller Settings.
  2. Choose your controller configuration support option, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch Pro, or Generic.
  3. Now, you should be able to move your mouse with the right stick on your controller.

Back to the Controller page of Steam Settings, you can click the DESKTOP CONFIGURATION button to personalize which buttons emulate which keyboard keys.

Disadvantages of using Steam Controller as Mouse

If you launch a game from Steam, the client will disable the gamepad-as-mouse feature automatically while you are in the game. Thus, the game will treat your controller as a mouse with all its default keybindings. Yet, if you launch a game from outside Steam, your controller will still be recognized as a mouse and your controls will not work properly.

To fix this issue, you can add those non-Steam games to your Steam library. When Steam detects them and the overlay works properly, it will disable the mouse feature.

#2 How to Use Controller as Mouse by Controller Companion or InputMapper?

Another software that enables you to use controller as mouse and keyboard is Controller Companion, which is a charged program that can be purchased and installed from Steam. Relying on this program, you can move your mouse via the left stick on your controller: click on targets using the A button while pressing the left stick.

Moreover, you can get a handy virtual keyboard to type quick bits of text. More importantly, Controller Companion will disable itself automatically when it detects a full-screen app running. That is to say, Controller Companion can switch between mouse emulation and in-game controls automatically and seamlessly.

However, Controller Companion does not support Sony’s DualShock (DS) controllers for the latter do not interact with Windows in quite the same way as Xbox controllers. Yet, it provides a button to set up Xbox Controller Emulator that should work in conjunction with DualShock gamepads.

If you plan to use PS4 controller as mouse, you need to rely on InputMapper or DS4Windows. Just download and install it on your PC. Start InputMapper. When you connect a DualShock controller, a popup will appear asking for configuration. You can create a profile that maps the controller to its Xbox 360 equivalents (so it works in games that do not support PS controllers), or as a mouse and keyboard (where the DualShock’s touchpad moves the cursor and tapping it clicks the mouse). You can specialize the button mapping and many other adjustments within the main interface of InputMapper.

How to connect an Xbox 1 controller to Windows 11 by Bluetooth, connect Xbox controller to Win11 via USB, or connect a controller to Win11 by wireless adapter?

#3 How to Use a Controller as a Mouse with Gopher360?

Although being a little old and outdated, Gopher360 for Xbox and other game controllers is still a good choice to use controller as mouse. To use this tool, go to its release page, copy it to your computer, and double-click on it to open.

Gopher360 is a command window with controls the mouse emulation on your gamepad. The following are the input types and key bindings of Gopher360.

A: Left Mouse-Click.

X: Right Mouse-click.

Right Analog: Scroll up/down.

Right Analog Click: F2.

Left Analog: Mouse.

Left Analog Click: Middle mouse click.

Back: Browser refresh

Start: Left Windows Key

Start + Back: Toggle. Useful for when you launch emulators or open Steam Big Picture mode. Press again to re-enable.

Start + DPad Up: Toggle gopher vibration setting.

LBumper: Browser previous

RBumper: Browser next

LBumber + RBummper: Cycle speed (x3)

You can also adjust the sensitivity and customize the button layout via Gopher360’s config file stored in the same location as the program.

How to connect PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii controller to console? How to fix the controller won’t connect issue? This complete manual will explain step by step.

However, Gopher360 does not support Sony’s DualShock controllers for the same reason mentioned in the above second part. Also, you can replace Gopher360 with InputMapper if you are using a DualShock controller.

Other Programs to Emulate Game Controller as Mouse

In addition to the tools mentioned above, there are many other apps that can also stimulate your controller as a desktop mouse.

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About The Author

Graduate from university in 2014 and step in work as a tech editor the same year. Writings involve mainly in hard disk management and computer data backup and recovery. Through the years of diving deep in computer technology, Helen has successfully helped thousands of users fixed their annoying problems.

Personally, Helen loves poetry, sci-fi movies, sport and travel. And, she believes that all her life is the best arrangement from god.