Fix: Steam overlay not working

Steam overlay is used to access Steam while you are playing any game. You can invite friends, send messages, find guides, and reply to messages etc. You can also see which one of your friends are online and you can invite them to play the game you are playing. It is a very useful tool because it lets you access Steam within any game instead of changing windows to do that.

Many people experience a problem where their Steam overlay stops working and they are left in a tight situation. There is not a single solution for this problem as the problem varies depending on the hardware and software configuration of the user. We have listed down a number of solutions for you to test. Try them in a descending and don’t skip any solution unless prompted to.

Solution 1: Granting administrator access

The most foremost reason why your steam overlay isn’t working can be that the programs don’t have administrator access. In many computers, this is the default option when you install Steam. We will guide on how to navigate to the executable files and giving them the permissions of an administrator.

  1. Open your Steam directory. The default location of it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam. Or if you installed Steam in another directory, you can browse to that directory and you will be good to go.
  2. Locate a file named “Steam.exe”. This is the main Steam launcher. Right click on it and select Properties. Select the Compatibility tab from the top of the screen. Here at the bottom of the window, you will see a check box stating “Run this program as an administrator”. Make sure it is checked. Save changes and exit.

  1. Now locate the file named “GameOverlayUI.exe”. Right-click and select its properties. Select the Compatibility tab from the top of the screen. Here at the bottom of the window, you will see a check box stating “Run this program as an administrator”. Make sure it is checked. Save changes and exit.

  1. Restart Steam and check if the Steam overlay is working while playing any game.
  2. If not, then make sure that you aren’t running that game as an administrator because it can sometimes cause glitches.
  3. Go to the game folder, right-click on its executable and select “Properties”.
  4. In the compatibility tab, make sure it is not set to run as an administrator.

Solution 2: Enabling Steam Overlay

There is an option in Steam which enables the Steam Overlay. It may be possible your overlay isn’t working because that option isn’t enabled. We can try enabling it and starting Steam again to see if the problem gets fixed.

  1. Open your Steam client.
  2. Click on the option named Steam present in the upper left side of the window. From the drop-down box select Settings to open the Settings interface.
  3. Once the Settings are opened, click on the In-Game tab present on the left side of the screen. Here you will see a checkbox stating “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game”. Make sure it is checked. You can also check if you are pressing the correct Overlay shortcut keys. You can also change them if you want.

  1. Now click on the Library tab present at the top of the window. The games that are installed in your computer will be listed here. Right-click on the game in which the overlay isn’t working and select Properties.
  2. Here you will see another checkbox stating “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game”. Make sure it is checked.

  1. Re-launch Steam and check if the overlay is working in that desired game.

Solution 3: Opening from the main game folder

Another remedy is to open the game you are playing directly from its installation folder. There may be a bug if you launch the game from the Steam launcher which disables Steam overlay.

  1. Open your Steam directory. The default location of it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam. Or if you installed Steam in another directory, you can browse to that directory and you will be good to go.
  2. Navigate into the following folders
Steamapps<common
  1. Now you will see different games which are installed in your PC. Select the game in which Steam overlay isn’t working.
  2. When inside the game folder, open the folder named “game”. When inside the folder, open another folder named “bin”. Now you will see two folders named win32 and win64. Open win32 if your computer has a 32-bit configuration or win64 if it has an a64-bit configuration.

The final address would look something like this.

  1. Here you will the game’s main launcher for example like “dota2.exe”. Right-click it and select the option Run as administrator. When the game is launched, check if the Steam overlay is working.

Solution 4: Disabling third-party applications

Third-party applications such as Fraps or Razer Synapse can cause problems when trying to access Steam overlay. The reason for that is these applications require control of your system overlay when they are running. Your system/screen overlay is shared by the game you are playing and by that third party application. When another application (Steam overlay) tries to access it, it cannot because already it is being used by two other parties. The best way is to disable them and try opening Steam overlay again when playing any game.

  1. You can either close those applications yourself from their respective options or you can press Windows + R to bring up the Run application.
  2. In the dialogue box type “taskmgr” to bring up the task manager.

  1. Now from the list of processes, delete all third-party applications running and close it. Launch Steam again and check if the overlay is working.

Note: You can also try to use it in safe mode with networking and check if that fixes your issue.

Solution 5: Restarting your PC

Although it doesn’t seem much, restarting your PC can solve the problem. It may be the case that your Steam updated in the background and had updates installed. Because of those new updates, it can be that it isn’t performing its full functionality (running Steam overlay) until the PC is restarted to apply all the changes it went through with the update. Restart your computer and run Steam as administrator and check if Steam overlay is working when playing any game.

Solution 6: Verifying local game files and library files

It may be the case that your game files may be corrupted or may have some missing game files. Because of this Steam overlay wouldn’t open in your game. Your library files can also be in the incorrect configuration which may lead to a bugged Steam overlay.

  1. Open your Steam client and click the Library present on the top. Here all your installed games will be listed. Select the game in which Steam overlay fails to open.
  2. Right-click on the game which is giving you the error and select Properties.
  3. Once in the properties, browse to the Local Files tab and click on the option which says Verify Integrity of Game Files. Steam will then start verifying all the files present according to the main manifest it has. If there is any file missing/corrupted, it will download that files again and replace it accordingly.

  1. Now navigate to your Settings by pressing the Settings option after clicking Steam present in the bottom left corner of the screen. Once in the Settings, open the Downloads tab present at the left side of the interface.
  2. Here you will see a box in which it is written “Steam Library Folders”. Click it

  1. All your steam content information will be listed. Right-click on it and select “Repair Library Files”.

  1. Restart Steam and open it using Run as administrator

Solution 7: Checking your Firewall and Antivirus

It is a very common reality that your firewall and antivirus software conflicts with Steam. Steam has a lot of processes going on at once to ensure that your gaming experience is nothing but the best. However, many antivirus software marks these processes as potential threats and quarantine them resulting in some processes/applications not working. We have put together a guide on how to put steam as an exception in antivirus.

For disabling the Windows Firewall, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Press Windows + R button to bring up the Run application. In the dialogue box type “control”. This will open your computer’s control panel in front of you.

  1. On the top right there will be a dialogue box to search. Write firewall and click on the first option that comes as a result.

  1. Now at the left side, click the option which says “Turn Windows Firewall on or off”. Through this, you can turn your firewall off easily.

  1. Select the option of “Turn off Windows Firewall” on both the tabs, Public and Private Networks. Save changes and exit. Restart Steam and launch it using the option Run as administrator.

Solution 8: Checking for Windows updates

As we all know, Steam keeps its client up to date with all the latest upgrades and developments of any operating system. It adapts its functions and options accordingly. If Steam gets updated for that new change in your OS, and your OS isn’t upgraded on your side, it may cause Steam not to function properly. As a result, your Steam overlay won’t launch when you are playing any game. Follow the steps listed below to check for potential updates and install them accordingly.

  1. Open your Start menu and in the dialogue box type “Settings”. Click on the first results that come. This will open the Settings application.
  2. Once in the Settings application, you will see a number of options. Browse through them until you find the one named “Update and Security”.

  1. Once in the Update and Security settings, you will see an option that says Check for updates. Click it and Windows will check for the updates available. It will download them and ask before installing them. Then it may require a computer restart. Save your work before restarting. After it has restarted, launch the Steam client using the option of Run as administrator and check whether the Steam overlay is working or not.


Note: You can also check manually for updates if automatic-check fails.

Solution 9: Disabling gameoverlayui.exe

Gameoverlayui.exe is not essential for the Windows OS. Disabling it causes relatively no problems. It is located in the subfolder of C:\Program Files. It signed by Verisign and has no information regarding its developer. It is also not a Windows system file so you don’t have to worry about it causing any unexpected errors. Disabling this process sometimes fixes the issue of Steam overlay not working. Follow the steps listed below to disable it from task manager.

  1. Press Windows + R button to bring up the Run application. In the dialogue box type “taskmgr” to launch the task manager.
  2. Browse to processes and scroll until you find the one named “gameoverlayiu.exe”. Disable it and check if the Steam overlay is working. You may have to restart Steam and run it using the Run as administrator option.

Solution 10: Deleting GameoverlayUI

Before we reinstall Steam and its components, it’s worth a shot to delete the GameoverlayUI application and checking the problem gets fixed. Note that you don’t have to delete it permanently. You can always retrieve it using the Recycle Bin.

  1. Open your Steam directory. The default location of it is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam. Or if you installed Steam in another directory, you can browse to that directory and you will be good to go.
  2. Search for “GameOverlayUI.exe”. Delete it. Restart Steam and open it using Run as administrator. Check if the problem gets fixed. If it doesn’t work, you can restore the deleted file from the Recycle Bin.

Solution 11: Enabling Overlay for Specific Game

In certain cases, the overlay might’ve been disabled for one specific game due to which it is not showing up in that game. In order to change this, we will open the properties for that game and change its configurations. For that:

  1. Launch Steam and sign in to your account.
  2. Click on “Library” and then right-click on the game with which you are facing this issue.
  3. Click on the “General” tab and check the “Enable In-Game Overlay” option.
    Checking the “Enable in-game Overlay” option
  4. Check to see if the issue still persists.

Final Solution: Refreshing Steam files

If the error still persists at this stage, we have no choice but to refresh Steam files. Refreshing Steam files will reinstall Steam on your computer again. We will delete some of the configuration folders to ensure that they get renewed upon the installation and all the bad files get removed.

Please note that any interruption during the copy process will corrupt the files and you will have to re-download the entire content over again. Only proceed with this solution if you are sure that your computer won’t be interrupted.

  1. Navigate to your Steam directory. The default location for your directory is
C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam.
  1. Locate the following files and folders:
Userdata                                      (folder)
Steam.exe                                    (Application)
Steamapps                                    (folder- only preserve the files of other games in it)

The user data folder contains all the data of your gameplay. We don’t need to delete it. Furthermore, inside Steamapps, you will have to search for the game that is giving you the problem and only delete that folder. The other files located contain the installation and game files of other games you have installed.

However, if all the games are giving you problems, we suggest that you skip deleting the Steamapps folder and proceed with the following step.

  1. Delete all other files/folders (except the ones mentioned above) and restart your computer.
  2. Re-launch Steam using administrator privileges and hopefully, it will start updating itself. After the update is complete, it will run as expected.
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: Steam overlay not working

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