Top 7 Fixes For Steam Doesn’t Recognize Installed Games

Have you tried running a game on your computer and instead, the Steam window tells you why you can’t run the game or simply doesn’t launch the game? Yeah, we know. It’s pretty annoying.

We love gaming and that is exactly why we noticed this issue and decided to look for solutions. We share them with you, through the contents of this hand-crafted article.

Top 7 Fixes For Steam Doesn't Recognize Installed Games

Solutions To Fix Steam Doesn’t Recognize Installed Games

These are the procedures we will be trying for Steam to detect games on its own and make them available in the Steam Library. This can even be used to detect games that have not been bought through Steam.

  1. Uninstall And Reinstall The Game
  2. Manually Include A Steam Library Folder
  3. Increase Steam Installation Folder’s Drive Size
  4. Transfer Your Games To A Drive With More Storage
  5. Use The .acf Cache To Push The Games Into The Steam Library
  6. Verify The Integrity Of Your Steam Game Files
  7. Perform A Backup And Restore Through The Steam Client

Solutions To Make Your Steam Profile Recognize The Installed Games

These are the solutions that have worked for several Steam users and should solve this issue for almost every specification.

1. Uninstall And Reinstall The Game

The first option for making your Steam client detect the game is to remove the game from your computer and install it again. You will need a good internet connection to download the game. Faster the download speed of the internet connection, the shorter the game launch duration.

  1. Launch the Steam client on your computer and go to the Steam library.
  2. Click on the game that you want to run through Steam to open its page.
  3. Now, find and press the Manage option (gear icon) to open a small pop-up menu.
  4. Go into the Manage sub-menu and click on the Uninstall option.
Steam Client Window with the Store page open for Windows
  1. Confirm this in the prompt window and the game will be uninstalled.
  2. For downloading it again, simply click on the Install window and check if the game requirements are met by your computer. 
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Once the game download is complete, click on the Play option to run it. If it doesn’t run, we have an entire article dedicated to making a Steam game that doesn’t launch run on your computer.

2. Manually Include A Steam Library Folder

When a game is installed on your computer via the Steam client, it is downloaded to the location where the Steam client itself is installed. This can be easily changed by creating a new library folder for your games to be installed in.

This is the only way to make a Steam Library folder on your storage drive. 

  1. Bring up the Steam window and open the Settings, which, as an option is available in the Steam menu.
  2. Go to the Downloads tab, from the left panel, and on the top-most part of this page, press the STEAM LIBRARY FOLDERS options.
Store Manager window with the Add library folder option (+)
  1. Then, select the Add Library Folder option and browse to the directory which has your Steam game files.
  2. Press the Select button and save the new location, by clicking on the OK option.
  3. Close the Steam client and end the process

3. Increase Steam Installation Folder’s Drive Size

One reason for this issue is that there is insufficient space for the game to be downloaded or for any updates to be installed. This could either mean that the storage unit has less free space or the hard drive partition could be running low on space. In this situation, you have two options –

  1. Upgrade the storage on your computer, through the addition of a new Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a Solid State Drive (SSD). We do not recommend using an external storage device like a new hard drive or any other USB drive, even with a large storage capacity as you may not get the best output from the game.
  2. Increase the size of the hard disk partition by transferring free space from the drive with extra to the drive partition that contains the Steam files.
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4. Transfer Your Games To A Drive With More Storage

C: drive with a certain amount of free space on a computer

When we say transfer the games to a drive partition with sufficient of more storage, it means that we will try moving the game files to a location with adequate storage space.

This is very simple and the steps to carry out this operating are the same as that of manually including a Steam library folder (Solution 2). This is listed as a separate step because we wanted to lay emphasis on a solution that can create an impact and prompt Steam to recognize installed games as its own, even though it has the same steps as another one. 

5. Use The .acf Cache To Push The Games Into The Steam Library

  1. Transfer the game data for your Steam games to this directory:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps

.acf files in the Steam > steamapps folder

This will stop Steam from detecting the games as the existing files are no longer where they used to be.

  1. Run the Steam application and you will notice that the games, whose data we shifted to a different place, are shown to require an installation again. 
  2. Open the game page and click on the Install button. This will detect the files of the game, rather than install it again. 
  3. Put this operation at a halt and exit Steam.
  4. Now, go back to this directory:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps

  1. Look for the files of the .acf format and copy them (Ctrl + C).
  2. Paste them in a new folder in the Steam folder and launch the Steam client again. The games will be shown like they aren’t installed on your computer. 
  3. Move the .acf files back to the below directory:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps

  1. After this, restart Steam and continue the update process for the games.

This procedure will force steam to recognize games as installed ones in the Steam games library.

6. Verify The Integrity Of Your Steam Game Files

  1. Open the Game library in your Steam client and go into the game page of the problematic game. 
  2. Click on the Manage menu and choose the Properties option.
  3. This will open the game settings window, where you have to select the Local Files tab from the panel of menus on the left.
  4. Press the Verify integrity of game files option and the scan of the installed game files.
Verify The Integrity Of Your Steam Game Files

7. Perform A Backup And Restore Through The Steam Client

  1. Right-click on the game. The installed games should be available in the Steam library or on the left panel of the Steam window. 
  2. Go into the Properties menu and continue into the Local files tab. 
  3. Click on the Backup game files option. This will show a tab with all the installed games on your computer.
  4. Check the games that you want to make backups of.
Backup and Restore Programs window with the list of installed games

Make sure that you have enough space to make a backup.

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Once the backup is complete, the installed game should be visible along with the other installed games, after a restart of the Steam client.

These are the different procedures you can use to make the steam client recognize installed games, that are not visible in the Steam library, even though they are installed in your computer, located in the Steam library folders. We hope this article was of help when you experience this issue. Happy Gaming!


How Do You Trick Steam Into Thinking I Own A Game?

To trick Steam into thinking that you own the game, you will have to add the game to your library. If the game is cracked, you will not be able to access some parts of the game, as the online multiplayer features. You may not also be able to see a game art as the banner unless they choose to add it.

How Do I Add A Downloaded Game To Steam?

When you download a game through Steam, it will automatically be added to your profile’s game library. To include the game in your library, go to it and click on the Add a game option, which is located at the bottom-left part of the screen. You will be shown a few options, that can be chosen to progress as you see fit.

Why Does Steam Not Recognize Installed Game?

Steam does not recognize the game(s) you installed usually because the game installation was corrupt or incomplete. Another reason for this issue is when a major Windows update is being downloaded, the game files can go missing.