Steam Sign Up: How It Works

Get your game on with this popular digital storefront and community portal

Steam is a digital storefront for games that works with Windows, macOS, and Linux. It's also a community portal where you can connect with friends to see what they're playing, share screenshots and videos, and play cooperative and competitive multiplayer games. Signing up for a Steam account is free, and there are no ongoing costs to use the service.

What Is the Steam Community?

In addition to a storefront where you can buy games and a desktop app that allows you to download and organize your games, Steam also has many community features.

When you sign up for Steam, you get access to game forums, guides, reviews, the Steam Workshop where you can check out mods and new game assets, and Steam Chat.

How Does Steam Work?

Steam has a desktop application that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. The application includes the storefront where you can buy games, and the community aspect, including Steam Chat.

In addition to the app, you can also access most Steam features through a web browser. You can buy games using store.steampowered.com, and you can access the community features, including Steam Chat, through steamcommunity.com.

How to Sign Up For Steam

Signing up for Steam is free, and you can complete the process using a web browser. All you need is a modern web browser, like Firefox, Edge, or Chrome, and a working email address.

If you don't have an email address or don't want to use your main email to sign up for Steam, check out our list of free email service providers.

Here's how to sign up for a Steam account:

  1. Go to steampowered.com.

    The Steam website.
  2. Select Login.

    The Steam homepage with the Login button highlighted
  3. Select Join Steam.

    The Steam login screen with the Join Steam button highlighted
  4. Enter your email address, and re-enter it to confirm.

    The Create an Account screen on Steam with the email address fields highlighted
  5. Select your country of residence.

    The Create an Account screen on Steam with the country of residence field highlighted
  6. Enter the captcha code in the Enter the characters above box.

    If you can't read the letters in the captcha, select Refresh for a new set.

    The Create an Account screen on Steam with the Captcha highlighted
  7. Scroll down to the Steam Subscriber Agreement section.

    The Steam Subscriber Agreement
  8. Read the subscriber agreement, then select the I agree and am 13 years of age or older check box.

    The Create an Account screen on Steam with the age and TOS agreement box highlighted
  9. Select Continue.

    Leave this page open. If you access your email with a web browser, do it in a new tab. After you confirm your email address, you will return to this page to complete the signup process.

    The Create an Account screen on Steam with the Continue button highlighted
  10. When the Verify Your Email dialog box appears, Valve sends you a confirmation email.

    The Steam sign up verification page
  11. Look for an email from Valve titled New Steam Account Email Verification.

  12. Open the email, and select Create My Account.

    The verification email from Steam with the Create My Account button highlighted
  13. Close the email verification page, then return to the Steam signup page that you left open earlier.

  14. In the Create a Steam account name box, enter a Steam account name. Steam checks to ensure the name you choose is available.

    If you don't like the name you chose during this step, you can change the username that other Steam users see at any time. Changing your Steam name is free, and you can do it as often as you like.

    The Steam account creation page with the account name field highlighted
  15. In the Choose a password box, enter a password, then re-enter it to confirm.

    The account creation screen on Steam with the password entry and verification fields highlighted
  16. Select Complete Sign-up.

    The Steam sign-up page with the Complete Sign-up button highlighted

How to Set Up Your Steam Profile

After you sign up for a Steam account, set up your profile. When you set up your profile, your friends can find you on the service. One of the best things about Steam is that you can play games online with your friends.

Here's how to set up your Steam profile:

  1. Go to steamcommunity.com, and sign in if you aren't signed in.

  2. Select your user name.

    Steam with a username highlighted
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, select Profile.

    Steam with the Profile command highlighted
  4. Select Setup Steam Profile.

    Steam with the Setup Steam Profile button highlighted
  5. Enter a profile name.

    The profile name is the name that other steam users see when you interact with them. You can change this name at any time.

    The Steam profile setup page with the Profile Name field highlighted
  6. Enter a real name.

    You don't have to use your legal name. If you are concerned about security or privacy, leave this field blank or use a fake name. This field is useful if you want your friends to find you by searching Steam for your real name.

    The Steam Profile Setup page with the Real Name field highlighted
  7. Choose your country if you want your country of origin to appear on your profile.

    The Steam Profile Setup screen with the Country field highlighted
  8. Enter a custom URL.

    This custom URL is the location of your profile. This URL makes it easier for you and others to view your profile. You don't have to set a custom URL.

    The Steam Profile Setup page with the Custom URL field highlighted
  9. Select Browse to upload your avatar image, or select one of the avatars provided by Steam.

    The Steam Profile page with the Browse and Upload options highlighted
  10. Select Link with Facebook if you want to find your Facebook friends on Steam.

    The Steam profile page with the Link with Facebook button highlighted
  11. In the Summary box, enter your profile or bio information. Provide the information you want people on Steam to know about you.

    The Steam Profile page with the Summary heading highlighted
  12. Choose Select Group if you joined Steam to play with friends or a community that has a Steam Group, or ignore that section if you're new to Steam.

    The Steam Profile setup page with the Select Group button highlighted
  13. Select Save Changes.

    The Steam Profile page with the Save Changes button highlighted
  14. Once your profile is live, select Edit Profile to change any of the information you provided during creation. As you buy and play games, you'll unlock more profile customization options, a larger friends lists, and other features.

    A Steam profile with the Edit Profile button highlighted

Setting up your profile is important when you have a new account because new accounts can't send friend requests. With your profile in place, your friends will have an easier time finding you. If you want to send friend requests and access other Steam Community features like group chat and the Steam Market, all account limitations are removed after you make a purchase in the Steam store or add money to your Steam Wallet.