How to Use Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator

Protect your games with two-factor authentication

Steam Guard is a handy feature that can help secure your Steam account, but the basic email-based code provisioning system isn't as secure as it could be. If someone has managed to steal your Steam login information, there's every chance that they could have also compromised your email.

That's where the Steam Guard mobile authenticator comes in to add a much-needed extra layer of security to protect your digital library, virtual items, and online reputation.

A woman uses the Steam Guard mobile authenticator to log into Steam.
Westend61 / Getty

What is Steam Guard?

Steam Guard is a two-factor authentication feature of Steam that provides an additional level of security above and beyond your username and password. With this feature enabled, Steam Guard will ask you for a one-time code every time you try to log into Steam on a new device.

While Steam Guard may seem like an unnecessary inconvenience, it exists to keep your account safe. Since you're the only one with access to the temporary codes generated by Steam Guard, nobody can steal your account. Even if they manage to obtain your password, they won't be able to log in.

There are two different versions of Steam Guard. The basic version sends you a code via email each time you log in through a new device, and the other generates your temporary codes through the Steam mobile app on your phone.

The Steam Guard mobile authenticator is inherently more secure since a thief would need to have your phone in their physical possession to break into your account.

Who Needs the Steam Guard Mobile App?

The Steam Guard mobile authenticator isn't strictly necessary, but it's convenient, and it adds an extra level of security to your account. If you own a lot of Steam games, or you have a lot of expensive items in games like DOTA2 and CS:GO, then using the Steam Guard mobile authenticator is worth your time.

Using the mobile authenticator also has benefits, if you want to utilize the Steam trading functionality or buy and sell items on the Steam Market. In addition to providing mobile authentication codes, the app also allows you to instantly approve or deny any Steam trade or Steam marketplace transaction.

How to Set Up the Steam Guard Mobile App

Setting up the Steam Guard mobile authenticator is a two-part process. First, you need to set up the Steam mobile app. Then, you have to activate the authenticator feature. During this process, you will need access to the email address that's associated with your Steam account.

To set up the Steam Guard mobile app, and activate your mobile authenticator, you need a smartphone and a valid phone number. Steam doesn't accept voice over IP (VOIP) phone numbers. If all you have is a VOIP phone number, you'll have to get a regular cellphone to take advantage of the Steam Guard mobile authenticator.

Here's how to set up the Steam mobile app and activate the Steam Guard mobile authenticator:

  1. Download and install the Steam mobile app on your phone.

  2. Launch the Steam mobile app on your phone.

  3. Enter your Steam username and password, and press Sign in.

  4. Look for an email from Steam with a temporary Steam Guard code. When it arrives, return to the Steam app on your phone, and enter the code.

  5. At this point, you should be signed in to the Steam mobile app, but you still have to set up the mobile authenticator feature.

  6. Tap the (three horizontal lines) menu button in the upper left corner. Tap Steam Guard in the menu that slides open, and tap Add Authenticator.

    Screenshots of an Android phone using Steam Guard
  7. Enter your phone number, and press Add phone. You'll then have to wait for an SMS from Steam. When you receive it, enter the code they provided into the SMS code field, and press Submit. Finally, write down the recovery code, and wait for the timer to expire.

    Screenshots of the Steam mobile authenticator setup process.
  8. At this point, the Steam Guard mobile authenticator is set up. Whenever Steam prompts you for a Steam Guard code, open the mobile authenticator app to generate a code.

How to Use the Steam Guard Mobile App

The Steam mobile app allows you to access a lot of Steam functions through your phone. You can view the Steam store, check your friend list, send messages and trade requests, view your profile and games, and more.

Beyond the store and the social functions of the app, you can also confirm or reject trade offers and Steam Marketplace transactions and retrieve temporary Steam Guard codes any time you want to log into Steam on a new device.

Here's how to find your temporary codes in the Steam Guard mobile authenticator:

  1. Launch the Steam mobile app.

  2. Tap the (three horizontal lines) menu button in the upper left corner.

  3. Tap Steam Guard.

  4. You'll receive a six-digit code in the app. Enter it into Steam.

    These codes are temporary, and the bar below the code indicates when it will expire. If the bar is already red when you open the app, wait for a new code.

    Screenshots showing how to use the Steam mobile authenticator.
  5. If Steam doesn't accept your code, it probably expired before you could enter it. Open the authenticator again and generate a new code.

If codes from your Steam Guard mobile authenticator don't work, and you're sure that you're entering them before they expire, make sure that the time settings on your phone are correct. The authenticator doesn't require an internet connection to function, but it's imperative that the time is accurate.