The Steam Deck has been out globally for a few months and more and more people are starting to get their hands on Valve’s latest creation with new devices rolling out every day. The portable PC is one of the greatest innovations of recent memory, and there are a plethora of features at the fingertips of every user. However, this functionality is not always obvious. Some users might not even know half of what their Steam Deck can do. In order to help bridge the gap between the unknown and the user, we’re going to go over several tips that can help players get the most out of their Steam Deck.
Tips for using the Steam Deck
We are going to go over several tips related to the Steam Deck. Most of them will be simple actions that every user will need to know how to do if they want to fully access the features of Steam Deck.
Connecting a controller
While Steam Deck’s portable experience is great for some games, for most titles it can be a bit unintuitive. For example, when playing a multiplayer title like Fortnite, players won’t want to suddenly learn a whole new set of commands and put their hands in a different position than they’re used to. Fortunately, Steam Deck allows the use of an external controller.
To connect a controller, players need to open their Steam Deck and go to Settings, then Bluetooth. Here, enable Bluetooth, then press the Bluetooth pairing button on the controller. After a few seconds, your controller should appear in the Bluetooth menu. When this happens, press A to pair with Steam Deck and you should be able to use the controller the same way you would on a console or PC.
If you’d rather connect your controller directly to the Steam Deck and not play over Bluetooth, you have that option as well. To do this, you need a controller that connects via a USB-C cable, which should be most standard controllers on the market. However, if you want to use a controller that doesn’t connect via USB-C, you’ll need an adapter. It would probably be a USB-A to USB-C adapter, if you want to use something like an Xbox 360 controller. With any controller connected directly to the Steam Deck’s USB socket, you can use the controller freely.
Using the back buttons
As any Steam Deck user knows, there are four buttons on the back of the device, two on each side. These can be assigned to any input the players want. However, most games these days don’t make much use of these buttons. However, if you want to configure them for a game that uses them, you can easily do so.
While playing the game, press the Steam button on the left side of the device and press Right twice. This will bring up the controller interface on the screen. Players can then go to controller settings and then change the layout. From here, players can assign the back buttons, labeled L4, L5, R4, and R5, to any input they choose.
Although the Steam Deck is primarily used for playing games directly from your Steam library, a full-fledged operating system is also available. Players can access desktop mode by holding down the power button and selecting the mode from the list of options. This allows players to open a browser and see all of their outside apps. Switching to desktop mode is perfect for gamers who want to access Xbox Game Pass, for example, as this can only be done through a browser.
Take a screenshot
In modern games, everyone wants to take a screenshot of something they’ve done in-game. Whether it’s defeating the final boss in Elden Ring or a dashboard image in a Call of Duty match, screenshots have become a staple of the video game industry. Naturally, Valve has included a way for Steam Deck users to take their own screenshot while using the laptop.
For this, just press the Steam + R1 buttons at the same time. If done correctly, you will see a notification box indicating that you have successfully taken a screenshot. These snaps are then stored in the Media menu of the Steam Deck.
Using the virtual keyboard
One of the cool innovations that Valve introduced with Steam Deck is the virtual keyboard. This feature is a shortcut for users to bring up a smartphone-style keyboard while gaming. It’s perfect for users who don’t plug in their own keyboard to play games. For example, if players are playing a multiplayer game like Call of Duty or CS:GO and they want to type to their teammates, they can do so using the virtual hotkey.
To bring it up, all players need to do is press Steam + X at the same time. This will bring up the keyboard, allowing players to type while staying in the game they’re playing. You can also do this in desktop mode during times when the keyboard doesn’t appear automatically, but probably should.
Disabling adaptive brightness
Adaptive brightness is a feature most modern wearables have. However, it is not the best feature for gaming. What it does is increase or decrease the brightness of Steam Deck depending on the ambient light in the room. So if the place you are playing is extremely dark, Steam Deck’s adaptive brightness will activate and increase the brightness. Alternatively, if you are playing in a well-lit area, the brightness will be reduced. While that’s a good idea, in theory it doesn’t work well all the time when playing games.
To turn it off, press the Steam button and go to Settings, then Display. Here, uncheck the Adaptive Brightness box and select the brightness that suits you. If you need to, you can always go back and readjust the brightness.
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