Jun 15, 2023 3 min read

Steam gets big update with new user interface

A fresh coat of paint for Steam on the desktop, along with a handy new notes feature.

New Steam Desktop Client

A fresh coat of paint for Steam on the desktop, along with a handy new notes feature.

Let's be real — the Steam client has long felt overdue for an update, particularly when it comes to the look and feel of the now-mature desktop app. Well, thankfully, Valve has seen fit to make some pretty worthwhile changes to Steam on the desktop — in a now available update. There's a lot to like here.

Steam Desktop Client - Updated UI

Most notably a fresh coat of paint across has been implemented across the Steam desktop client user interface (UI), with changes to fonts, colours, menus, and more.

Although not a radical redesign, it's a meaningful one — taking what was already there and familiar, and tweaking it in ways which make for a more accessible experience overall.

Steam's New Notification Panel

In addition to refreshing the UI, the Steam app has also seen improvements to the notification experience, with Valve noting that the green notification bell will now only light up "when there's truly something new for you" — as you'd expect.

An updated tray view (pictured below) will only show new notifications, with older ones shifted to a historical 'View All' location. New notification controls have also been added, meaning you now should have greater control over the types of information you're pinged about. Good stuff.

Notifications in the Steam Desktop Client
Notifications in the Steam Desktop Client

A Redesigned In-Game Overlay

The in-game overlay (accessed via Shift + Tab) has also gotten a sizeable upgrade.

A new dock-like toolbar now gives you access to a whole range of things that you may want mid-game — such as achievement details, access to guides, friends lists, and more.

A new dock-like toolbar in the in-game overlay
A new dock-like toolbar in the in-game overlay (circled in red)

Steam Now Let's You Take Notes As You Play

Another huge new addition is the introduction of a notes feature - this, as you've no doubt gathered, lets you jot down a few words about the game you are currently playing.

The notes experience looks to be quite a rich one too — allowing for formatting (bold, italic, etc), pasting in images, and more. All of your notes will sync across devices (including to your Steam Deck), can be used when offline, and can even be pinned as an overlay window to your game, so you can see your notes whilst you play.

Notes in Steam
Taking notes in Steam

This new notes feature is going to prove really handy for certain games - whether that's just for keeping a list of what you still want to do in a game, for directions, to jot down a thing you want to come back to, or to help solve a puzzle (handy for games like Fez or Tunic for example).

In addition to all of the above, Valve detailed how this update also enables hardware acceleration for the macOS and Linux versions of Steam — hopefully making things as snappy and responsive as the Windows version of the client.

This update also probably marks the end for the original Steam Big Picture mode - the release notes detail that this version removed "support for -oldbigpicture command-line option" — meaning any big picture mode is now using the same UI as that found on the Steam Deck.

The update also brings in a ton of other smaller improvements and performance wins — see the full release notes.

Steam News - Steam Desktop Update - Steam News
Big improvements and new features for the Steam Desktop client are now out of Beta!
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