How do I use a Steam key?


So someone sent you a Steam key for a free copy of a video game? Steam is more or less the defacto app-store for games (and some software) on Windows PCs. But they don't really make it obvious how to use a "Steam key" or "activation key" to unlock software. So I made this web page to help!

Step 1: Make a Steam Account

If you have a Steam account, skip ahead to Step 2.

Just like everything on the Internet, you need to make an account first. Visit the Steam website to start the sign-up process. It looks something like this...



Step 2: Install Steam on your Computer

If you have Steam installed on your computer, skip to Step 3.

You'll need to be on a Windows or Mac computer to install Steam. Download and install Steam from the Steam website. Once you've clicked on the "Install Steam" button, your browser will let you run the .exe or .app file (depending on Windows or Mac).

Run the Steam installer from Chrome



Or run the Steam installer from Firefox



Follow all the steps to install Steam on your computer. Should be simple...

Step 3: Run Steam and Log In

Once you've installed Steam, run it on your computer. Enter your account name and password and login!



Step 4: Add a Game to Steam

This is where it gets tricky. There's a less-than-obvious button to "ADD A GAME" in the bottom-left corner of the Steam window. Don't get distracted by all the shiny new games in the store they want you to buy.

Click on "ADD A GAME"...



Then click on "Activate a Product on Steam..."



Then continue clicking the "NEXT >" button...



Agree to the subscriber agreement...



Paste in the Steam key -- AKA "product code" you received for the game. Then click the "NEXT >" button...



If everything worked, you should be shown the name of the game you just added to your Steam Library. If the key was invalid, or if someone else already claimed the key, you'll be shown an error message.



Step 5: The Game is in your Library

Now that the game is activated, you should be able to see the game in your Steam Libary, install it, and play it!



That's it! I hope this guide has been helpful for you!

 

 

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Created by Patrick Curry