Freshen up your Steam UI
Steam has come a long way from its humble beginnings. At first it was simply a bloated, slow client that meant we could all play Half Life 2. The Friends tab didn’t even work…
Yet here are, years later, where it’s hard to imagine a PC Gaming landscape without Valve’s behemoth service. It’s an integral part of gaming now; with hundreds of games releasing on the service every month from free to play games, early access and tools all the way through to AAA releases.
There is just one thing though; it’s ugly. Steam is an extremely boring program to look at but, thankfully, there are some hard working aesthetes out there who have taken it upon themselves to spruce it up. Here’s a few of the best:
See also: Xbox One vs PS4
This is the skin I use. Doing away with Steam’s dark hues; Air brings a real sense of light to proceedings. With a gorgeous blue colour dominating the skin this would get a pass on aesthetics alone, but the skin also has several great functionality changes. It removes a lot of fluff and unnecessary content on your game pages and makes everything feel a little bit more connected.
The blue might not work for many – but there’s a handy guide you can follow to adjust the colours to your own preference, and it even has a “dark mode” to not be as harsh in the night with the lights down.
Download Air for Steam
One of the more simple skins on the list, but still extremely effective. Far from overhauling Steam completely or applying a new kind of style, Blue Pulse simply provides the whole operation with a darker palette. Blacks and blues dominate this skin and provide a welcoming, familiar option to people used to the classic UI.Download Blue Pulse for Steam
This is pretty unique skin, and might only be relevant to a small number of users, but it makes our list because of how well it implements its idea. The goal is to make every aspect of Steam’s UI take up as little room as possible; meaning those running Steam on smaller devices aren’t constantly scrolling and manipulating the window to see information.
Download Steam Compact for Steam
This is cheating, I know. Enhanced Steam isn’t, in fact, a skin – instead it’s an extension for your web browser that adds some incredible functionality to Steam’s pages when you’re browsing (many of which are now incorporated into Steam itself.) It highlights games you own, shows the ones on your wishlist and even highlights games you have spare copies of for friends. One of the best features, though, is the price comparison and price history features – showing the cheapest a product has been to date (and where), where the cheapest place to get it right now is and how much that game costs in other regions – just don’t expect to see that information included on Steam ever.
Download Enhanced Steam
Flat Green Steam
This one might not be one of the best, but for those Steam users who have been using the service since the early days this is something of a blast from the past. This is classic Steam; greys and greens abound reminding us of a simpler time. Unfortunately this one only alters parts of Steam; so the store page remains the modern, messy one.
Download Flat Green for Steam
The skin I would use if not for my love of Air. This is a happy middle ground between the classic Steam UI with all of its greys and blacks, and the minimalist Air – meaning that, for many, it’s probably a better fit for them. It retains a lot of the information from Steam but still retains some of the sleekness of Air – and also has some pretty extensive customisation options.
Download Metro for Steam
I’ve seen people wax lyrical over this skin – though it’s never done that much for me. It’s much closer to the original Steam skin, though with a gorgeous, subtle blue that really makes the skin pop on monitors. It also doesn’t try and take away from Steam, like the minimalist ones that I prefer, but instead gives the whole thing a reimagining and looks, in many ways, like Steam should do if Valve gave it a fresh lick of paint.
Download Pixelvision for Steam
This is an example of some of the great, simple skins out there. You can customise Steam in so many different ways we often forget that it’s actually pretty functional already. In fact, for many people, it’s only the look of Steam that needs a bit of a refresh. This Rainbow Dash theme is a classic example of some of the… more unusual colour schemes and edits that people make to their Steam skins.
Download Rainbow Dash for Steam
Goodness me. Red Flare is for those of you who always felt that Steam was too boring. Steam just wasn’t loud enough for you and your tastes. Well with Red Flare it certainly will be; this is brash, in your face, loud and completely unapologetic. It’s completely offensive to my sensibilities – but I’m sure there’s a market out there for it.
Download Red Flare for Steam
A relative newcomer to the Steam skin scene, Pressure is actually an evolution of an existing skin called Enhanced Steam. The developer's focus is on simplicity of design and improved functionality -- two objectives that this skin definitely hits. If you're looking for a skin which dials back the detail for a clean look without removing any of the usability, then this is a good place to start.
Download Pressure for Steam
Ever wanted to feel like you were tapping into The Matrix when you sit down for a friendly game of Team Fortress 2? If you by chance answered yes to that rather silly question, then Digitally Unmastered is undoubtedly the skin for you. Granted, there's an awful lot of green and black on there but the modifications made by the developer to the standard Steam UI are intelligent and genuinely enhance the whole experience.
Download Digitally Unmastered for Steam
This Steam skin is something of an acquired taste, as it's quite loud and in-your-face -- the yellow and black "warning" motif is a million miles away from the restrained classiness of the Air skin, for example. The core UI remains largely untouched here too, so if you do pick Alert Skin, you'll be doing so based purely on its visual style -- which, we should add, isn't as garish in use as you might expect. If you want to give Steam a bit of a kick up the bottom in purely aesthetic terms, this could fit the bill nicely.
Download Alert Skin for Steam