Steam Client and Game Launch Options (2023 Updated List)

Steam comes with a launch options feature that allows you to customize the behaviour of a game. These launch options can tweak how the games are started, along with several other things that can, in some cases, help you resolve issues you might be encountering with a game.

Steam Game Launch Options Settings
Steam Game Launch Options Settings List
Please note that this guide is meant for advanced Steam users who know their way around commands. Newbies are advised to stay away from altering things they don’t know about.

Unfortunately, not all of the games available on the Steam platform support these launch options. This is because the launch options depend solely on the developers of the game, and so they can differ for different games. However, in this article, we will take you through various launch options that you can use on Valve games to customize their functionality.

How to set launch options in Steam games?

The process of setting launch options for games is different from that of the Steam client. This is because you will be using the Steam app to set launch options for the games in your library while adding launch parameters to Steam is done outside the app. 

To set launch options for a game in your Library, follow the instructions below:

  1. First, open the Steam client on your computer.
  2. After that, navigate to the Steam Library. 
  3. There, right-click on the game you wish to configure and choose Properties from the drop-down menu.
    Navigating to Game Properties
    Navigating to Game Properties
  4. Use the Launch Options bar provided on the General tab to add launch options.
    Steam Game Launch Options
    Steam Game Launch Options
  5. Remember that each launch option needs to have the ( – ) prefix. There are also some special launch options that use ( + ) as the prefix, but in most cases, ( – ) is used. For example, -novid.

List of launch options you can use for Games

Now that you know how to add launch options to modify the launch of a Steam game, we can get started by going through various available launch options.

Before starting, it is important to note that these launch options will not work on all games. This is because the launch options of a game depend on the developers. We will be going through various popular and common launch options for Valve, or any third-party games that have been built on the Source engine. 

Launch OptionIt's Purpose
novidWhen you add the novid launch option to a game, the intro video of the game will not be played. This can help you achieve faster load times.
32bitUsing the 32bit launch option is useful on 64-bit operating systems as it forces the game to launch in 32-bit mode.
autoconfigThe autoconfig launch option will force the game to apply default graphics and performance settings for the hardware on your computer. Any settings in your config files will be ignored until this launch option is removed.
clientportThe clientport launch option can be used to change the default client port (27002). This can be helpful when you have multiple PCs in the same network connecting to the Steam servers.
highUsing the high launch option will set the priority of the game process to High on your computer. This will allow the game process to consume more resources of the game as it will be prioritized in the Windows scheduler.
width You can use the width launch option to start the game with the resolution specified. Replace with the width you want, for example, 1920.
height This uses the same principle as width. Provide a value to start the game at the specified height resolution, for example, 1080.
freq or refreshThe freq and refresh launch options allow you to control the refresh rate of the game. If you have a higher refresh rate monitor, you can explicitly tell the game to run at the highest frequency. Provide a value next to the launch option, for example -refresh 240.
safeThe safe launch option starts the game in video safe mode. This means the game will be launched in windowed mode, in 640x480 resolution, along with the default refresh and disabled antialiasing. This can be helpful in troubleshooting any launch issues with the game.
nopreloadUsing the nopreload launch option will force the game to not load any models unless they are needed. This can help in improving the performance of a game on lower-end computers.
mat_antialias and mat_aaqualityYou can use these launch options to control the antialiasing mode of the game. The values accepted by mat_antialias are 0-8 in multiples of 2. In the case of mat_aaquality, you can provide a value from 0-4 in multiples of 2. Use a combination of both to choose your preferred antialiasing mode. For example, -mat_antialias 4 and -mat_aaquality 4 will set the antialiasing mode to 16x CSAA.
-con_enable 1This enables the console so you can use it in-game
-consoleThis also enables the console in-game and opens it up when the game starts.
-useforcedmparmsThis allows the usage of –noforcemspd and –noforcemaccel.
-noforcemaccelThis allows the use of Windows mouse acceleration settings.
-noforcemspdThis allows the use of Windows mouse speed settings.
-fullscreenThis starts the game in a full screen from the start.
-x This places the borderless window along the horizontal axis of the screen. This is very useful if you are using multiple monitors. For example, you can use “-x 1921”. If you are using three monitors, it will place it on the middle screen.
-y This places the borderless window along the vertical axis of the screen. This is very useful if you are using multiple monitors. For example, you can use “-y 0”. This will place the game window on top of the monitor, over the task bar.
-autoconfigThis will help in restoring the video and audio configuration to their default settings for the current hardware which is detected. This will completely ignore any settings present in the .cfg files until this parameter is removed.
-override_vpkThis will force the Steam engine to search for custom game content which is placed inside the game’s installation directory instead of loading the default game files from the VPK files. However, do note that this feature cannot be used in matchmaking and is limited for single player only.
-enable_addonsThis will force the Steam engine to search for whitelisted custom game content which is placed inside the game’s installation directory instead of loading the default game files from the VPK files. This can be used in matchmaking games. The whitelisted list includes many items such as HUD, icons, custom cursor images etc.
-nomousegrabThis enables the alt-tab function in some Linus devices where the game is running full screen and grabbing mouse won’t allow the players to use the alt-tab function while in-game.
-language This changes the language of the game and the menus. You can place the name of the language in place of code. The command line will look something like “-language Italian”.
-nod3d9exThis forcefully disables the Windows Aero DirectX extensions. This is used to enhance performance in some cases.
-nomicsettingsThis stops the game from changing the microphone output values when the game launches. This is particularly useful for people who are using third party applications such as Skype where their microphone value will get forcefully maxed out when they run the game.
-nosoundThis turns off the sound in-game.
-dx9This will force the game to run on DirectX 9
-dx11This will force the game to run on DirectX 11.
-glThis forces the game to run on OpenGL. On Windows, the OpenGL DLC must be present in the system and should be installed for this feature to run.
-vulkanThis applies the Vulcan support.
-nogrammerampThis will force the game to use the desktop color profile.
-antiaddiction_testThis adds an uptime clock so you can see how much time is passing by while you are playing. This is very useful for keeping track of minutes passed while in-game.

How to apply launch options in Steam client?

In addition to game launch options, there are different launch options available for the Steam application itself. If you are having trouble with the Steam client on your computer, using the launch options available for the Steam client can be helpful.

Setting launch parameters for Steam is different since it needs to be done outside the app. To do this, you will have to navigate to the installation directory of Steam and open the Properties window of the executable file. Follow the instructions below to do this step by step:

  1. First, open the File Explorer window.
    Opening File Explorer
    Opening File Explorer
  2. Then, navigate to the installation of the Steam client. 
  3. There, right-click on the Steam.exe file and choose the Create shortcut option from the drop-down menu.
    Creating a Steam Shortcut
    Creating a Steam Shortcut
  4. After that, right-click on the shortcut and choose Properties from the drop-down menu.
    Opening Steam Properties
    Opening Steam Properties
  5. Finally, you can use the Target bar to add any launch parameters you want. Remember to add a semi-colon ( ; ) after each launch parameter.
    Steam Properties
    Steam Properties

List of launch parameters for Steam client

Now that you are aware of where to add the launch options for Steam, let us go through the various parameters that are available. 

  • clearbeta — The clearbeta parameter will allow you to opt out of any beta version you may have participated in. This can be helpful when it cannot be done via the Settings menu for whatever reason. 
  • console — Adding the console parameter will enable the Steam debug console tab. 
  • single_core — The single_core parameter will force the Steam client on your computer to only run on your primary core only. 
  • tcp — As obvious from the name, this forces the connection made to the Steam servers from your computer to use TCP. 
  • tenfoot — The tenfoot parameter will start Steam in Big Picture Mode. 
  • no-browser — Steam uses an embedded Chromium browser for its web browser components along with the in-game browser overlay. In addition, this is also used by the Panorama-based friends/chat user interface. Adding the no-browser parameter will disable all of this, and restore the old friends list along with the old chat user interface.
  • language <language> — You can use the language parameter to control the language of the Steam client. Replace the <language> keyword with any supported language and Steam will switch to the specified language. For example, -language german. 
  • cafeapplaunch — The cafeapplaunch parameter will launch any Steam apps in cyber cafe mode. This will force the apps to verify the game files before it is launched. 
  • log_voice — Using the log_voice parameter will log the Steam voice chat data to the logs/voice_log.txt file in the installation directory. 

In addition to all these launch options, there are a lot more that you can dig into on the official Valve website that offers different functionality. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Arrows


Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.
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