Steam Shared Library Locked? Try These 7 Fixes!

If you are a hardcore PC gamer, you must know about Steam – the best PC gaming platform. Not only is Steam easy to use and highly compatible, but it also features a massive library of games under a single roof. 

Steam Library window

It is also the best place to team up with your friends or other PC gamers from around the world. However, it is not always rainbows and roses though! Above its various benefits, there is a common Steam shared library locked or just locked game error that often interrupts everyone. 

In this article, I will discuss what this error is, its common reasons, and my top 7 fixes to quickly get rid of the issue without scratching your head. So, let us get started without further ado. 

What is the Steam shared library locked error?

As per Steam’s shared library rules, only a single user can access a Steam library at a time. If more than one user tries to access any library when another player is active, the Steam will automatically get locked. 

You are more likely to face the Steam shared library locked error on your PC if you have shared your library with your family or friends. If that is the case, you should ask them to avoid coming online or accessing the library when you are doing so. 

If you are still facing the issue, below are the other common reasons. 

3 Reasons Behind The Steam Shared Library Locked Error

As discussed above, the Steam library can only be accessed by a single person at a time. If more than one person tries to access or utilize it simultaneously, the Steam shared library locked error is inevitable. 

However, this is not the only reason behind the issue. 

After my analysis, I found these three major culprits behind the error message, and here are them. 

1. Antivirus & internet issues

Are you using an antivirus? If so, it might be blocking access to the Steam library and leading to the message Steam shared library locked on the screen. 

To avoid this antivirus interference, I recommend either disabling the antivirus or adding Steam to its exemption list. In the latter, do not forget to add the exemption for both private and public networks.  

Similarly, internet-related access issues are also quite common with Steam. Hence, you can not completely rule out it is causing the Steam shared library locked error. 

If your internet connection blocks access to Steam and similar applications, you should add Steam to your internet network’s exemption list from connecting when playing games to avoid further blockages. 

After you are done with gaming, you can reconnect your Steam app to the internet network. 

2. Steam internal issues

Sometimes, the error message of Steam shared library locked appears due to some internal issues in the Steam application. In such cases, I recommend checking Steam’s official website meant for discussions to get the issue(s) sorted out. 

You can also reach out to Steam support for games-related issues. 

3. More than one active users

As aforementioned, the Steam shared library locked error also appears when more than one person is accessing your Steam library at the same time. In other words, you are playing on Steam and another individual tries to access your shared library. 

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Furthermore, Steam also gets locked if at least two users are online in a library. It does not matter whether the second user is playing or not. This is common in Steam family sharing. In either scenario, you will face the problem. 

As solutions, either one of the players must exit Steam or the second player must wait for the current player to complete the game. Furthermore, you can try to disable Steam library sharing.

So, these are the three main culprits behind the Steam shared library locked error. Let us now go through some quick fixes for the same. 

7 Fixes For The Steam Shared Library Locked Error

Once you know the exact reasons behind the Steam locking issue, let us work out to solve it. Here are my top 7 fixes for the Steam shared library locked error on Steam. But before that, I recommend trying the following preliminary solutions and checking if things get sorted.

Restart Steam

Restarting your Steam application is the best thing to try out if you encounter any problems. To do so, follow these steps. 

  1. Open the Steam application.
  2. Find Steam on the top-left corner and click on it. 
  3. Click on Exit from the drop-down menu that opens up. 
  4. This will close the application. Relaunch it. 
  5. Log into your account.

Check if the problem persists. If yes, try the next preliminary solution. 

Check the shared users on Steam

Steam allows library sharing with a maximum of 10 people at once. Despite this, the other nine users must keep their systems switched off while you are playing the game.

If even a single user tries to turn on their system and start playing the game simultaneously with you, the Steam shared library locked problem is inevitable. 

You can check if someone else is online and accessing your library through the following three ways. 

  1. Check your Friends & Chat section
  2. Check your friend’s last played game status
  3. Check your friend’s game achievement progress

Both these preliminary solutions work for most Steam users. If you are not among them, head to the next potential yet complicated fixes.

Clear Steam’s cache

The Steam application is not downloaded as a single game. Instead, it is downloaded in parts from different servers. These downloaded files are stored in the app’s download cache. With time, this cache gets corrupted or damaged. 

As a result, you get the Steam shared library locked error. To resolve it, I recommend clearing the cache following these steps.  

  • Run Steam as administrator
  • Find Steam on the left corner and click on it. 
  • Click on Settings from the drop-down menu that opens up.
  • From the left panel, click on Downloads.
  • On the next screen, navigate to the CLEAR DOWNLOAD CACHE option at the bottom and click on it. 
  • Complete the process by clicking on Ok.

Check if Steam is working fine or still showing the error. If yes, corrupt files might be the culprit. 

Repair Corrupt Files

If there are any corrupt files in your system, you will face the Steam shared library locked error on your screen. Hence, you should check your system for such files and repair them. 

Out of all possible repairing methods, I recommend using the SFC tool to check and repair the corrupt files. Below is the step-by-step for the same.  

  • Open the Search Box of your system. 
  • Enter cmd to open the Command Prompt and click on Run as Admin.
Open the Command Prompt
  • In the next window that opens up, enter the command – sfc /scannow
sfc /scannow
  • The repair process for all possible corrupt files in your system has started. 

Note that the above process is quite lengthy and will take time. Hence, do not interrupt the process and let it complete. 

Deny internet access to Steam 

As aforementioned, your internet connection is another common reason for the Steam shared library locked message. Some internet networks either block Steam or deny access to Steam files. 

In either case, I recommend denying Steam access to the internet connection. This worked for the majority of Steam users and is worth trying. 

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To do so, follow these steps. 

  • Open the Run command window on your system using its shortcut key combination – Windows + R or by typing Command Prompt in the search box.  
  • Once opened, type Firewall.cpl in the input field. Hit the Enter key. 
Open Command Prompt
  • Open Windows Defender Firewall by clicking on the Advanced settings option from the left panel on the screen. 
  • Click on the Outbound Rules option.
  • Following that, click on the New Rule option under the Actions tab. 
Outbound Rules
  • The New Outbound Rule Wizard screen will open. Click on Programs on the left pane and enter C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam in the This program path input field. Click on Next
Browse the location of the library.
  • Click on Block the connection and click on Next.
Click on Block the connection
  • On the next screen, you can now add a new rule and its description (optional). 
  • Click on Finish.

Relaunch your Steam library and check if the Steam shared library locked issue still shows up. If it does, here is your next solution. 

Close Steam on Other Devices

Even if you have logged out of your Steam account for any reason, there are chances of the last game you played still logged into Steam and running in the background. 

In this case, you will encounter the message “An error occurred while updating shared library locked”. 

Only one user can access a shared Steam library as already discussed above. To solve this, you must exit Steam on all devices by following these steps. 

  • Completely exit the Steam client on your PC.
  • Next, ask your family and friends you shared the Steam library with to exit from their system.
  • Relaunch Steam client on your device. 

Do you know the best part of this method? Besides helping you with the above issue, exiting Steam from all devices also solves the issue of the Buy option appearing on the already bought games instead of the Play option. 

Organize a “.BAT” File

A batch file is a plain text file that consists of various commands. These commands are used for repetitive tasks and to run groups of scripts. All batch files have the .bat or .CMD extension.

The same batch file is another answer to the Steam shared library locked error message. For this, first, download the .bat file and extract it on your system. This is because it will be downloaded in compressed format. 

Once you have extracted the batch file on your system, launch your Steam game as you usually do and double-click on the Steam Off.bat file. 

By doing so, you disconnect the Steam app from the internet. Besides, you can now play games from your friends’ library without asking anyone to stop playing. 

To reconnect the Steam app to the internet after playing the game, just click on the Steam On.bat file. 

This method serves multiple purposes as discussed here and is one of the easiest ways to get rid of the Steam shared library locked problem. 

Disable Family Sharing mode

Steam Family Library Sharing is another useful feature from Steam. As the name suggests, the feature lets you share and access the same Steam library games with multiple users. 

However, you need to complete a verification process to set up family sharing. After completing the verification process, a maximum of 5 allowed accounts can access the same Steam library games on 10 different devices. 

However, there remains the same problem as before. That is, only one user among the 5 allowed can play the game at a time. If more than one person tries to access the library, you will get the Steam shared library locked mistake code on the screen. 

Then, you would need to disable the Steam family shared library mode if you are the account holder. 

If you are not the account holder, follow these steps to do the same. 

  • Launch the Steam app on the system of another user. 
  • Open the Settings by clicking on the Steam option on the top-left side of the screen. 
  • The Settings menu will open up. Click on the Family option from the left sidebar to open the Family view menu. 
  • From the menu, uncheck Authorize Library Sharing on this computer to disable the family sharing library mode. 
Disable family sharing mode
  • Restart your system and try to open the game. 
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You must be able to access Steam without the Steam shared library locked error bombarding your screen. 

If it continues to do so, here is another simple solution.  

Try the SFS-Select

Since the most common reason for your inability to access the Steam app or play games is having multiple users accessing your library simultaneously, the SFS-Select is built to eliminate exactly this. 

That is, this tool securely eliminates anyone who simultaneously runs the game and leads to the Steam shared library locked error on your side. 

SFS-Select to solve Steam shared library locked error

The tool is extremely handy for all Steam users and ensures that no two users play the same game at a time. If such a situation arises, it eliminates the second person. 

Note: You can also use the SFS-Select third-party tool if you see the following message on your screen. 

“Selected drive already has a Steam library folder. Steam will manage multiple game installs in a single folder for you.”

So, here you go. These were the top 7 tried and tested fixes for the common Steam shared library locked error. I hope these methods work in your case as well. 

A Step-By-Step Guide To Create & Manage A Steam Library 

If you are finding it difficult to create and manage a Steam library and witness the Steam shared library locked error too often, follow these steps. 

  • Open the system you wish to share your Steam library with.
  • Log into your account. 
  • Navigate to the Steam Guard security.
  • Find Steam on the top-left corner and click on it. 
  • Click on Family on the left side of your screen.
  • From the next screen that opens up, click on Authorize Library Sharing on this computer. This will present you with the entire list of authorized users. 
  • Select the users you would like to share your library with amongst the list. Note that Steam allows you to add only 5 users at a time. 
  • Click on Ok to complete the process. 

Conclusion

If you are a gamer, the Steam shared library locked message should not be uncommon to you. According to the Steam community rules, only a single authorized user can access and play games in a shared library at a time. 

If even two players try to play the game simultaneously, the library will get automatically locked for safety reasons. To unlock Steam, either one of the users must quit the game or purchase a separate copy for the game and continue playing. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Unlock A Shared Steam Library?

To unlock a shared Steam library, open the app on another player’s system, click on Steam from the left sidebar, and select Settings. Next, select the Family option and uncheck the Authorize Library Sharing on this computer. Restart your system to access the game now. 

What Is The Steam Shared Library Locked Error?

The Steam shared library locked error is a common error that indicates someone else is also running the shared game library on their system simultaneously. In such cases, Steam locks the game for security reasons. However, you can still unlock Steam using the above ways. 

Can You Transfer Steam Games To Another Account?

No, you can not transfer games from one Steam account to another account. Once you have purchased a game, its license gets permanently bound to your account. There is no way to transfer that game to another account. You can only share Steam games.

Does Uninstalling Steam Delete Games?

Yes, uninstalling Steam from your device will permanently delete all your games and other purchases from the system. Hence, if you wish to reinstall Steam on another machine, make sure to take a backup of all games. Also, you should move the site maps outside the Steam directory.