Valve’s Steam Deck handheld gaming PC ships with a Linux-based operating system called Steam OS that features a console-like user interface designed to put games and gaming front and center.

But now you can get a similar experience on desktop computers thanks to an updated version of Big Picture mode for the Steam desktop client. The new Steam Deck-like UI is now the default Big Picture experience in the Steam desktop client.

The Steam Desktop client’s default user interface is still designed for mouse and keyboard input. But Big Picture mode gives you a way to navigate with a game controller while you’re sitting on a couch and looking at a big-screen display. Game art, icons, menus, and buttons are all larger, making everything easier to see if you’re sitting 10 feet away from your screen.

It can also come in handy if you’re using Steam on one of the growing number of handheld gaming PCs that aren’t the Steam Deck.

Valve has offered a Big Picture mode for years, but last year the company announced that the Steam Deck UI would eventually replace the old version. Valve began rolling out the new Steam Deck-like interface to beta testers last fall, and it graduated to stable status on February 1st, 2023.

Among other things, the new user interface brings an updated home screen layout with recent games and other updates, a new universal search utility that can access your game library, the Steam store, and your friends’ content, and a new controller configurator.

There are also new system and quick access menus and an updated in-game overlay to show achievements and guides.

If you’d prefer the old Big Picture experience, you can still get it by using the command line option “-oldbigpicture,” but Valve notes that it will remove that option eventually.

You can find more details in Valve’s announcements (1)(2).

This article was first published October 27, 2022 and most recently updated February 3, 2023. 

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One reply on “Steam’s new Big Picture mode is basically the Steam Deck UI for desktop computers”

  1. It works really well on my onexplayer, so any handheld running windows should be able to experience this console like experience and I would recommend they try it.

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