Like the thousands upon thousands of games it hosts, Steam has secrets. It is, on one hand, a brilliant thing, more feature-rich than just about any other gaming platform on the planet. However, as it's expanded over the years it's also taken on an infernal-machine-like quality; it's become this cacophonous conglomerate of bells and whistles, many of which are buried under other bells and whistles. It's hard to know everything Steam is capable of, is what I'm saying.
- The search bar on your friends list isn't just for people. If you search a game's name, it will pull up people playing that game, making it easier for you to jump in with them.
- The big ol' box at the top of the Steam store front page? You can customise what appears in it. Used to be that you had to right click on it to pull up options, but now mousing over the box makes a "customise" tab appear. You can even tell it to cycle through games already in your account, if you're feeling indecisive or want to confuse yourself.
- Have a friend who changes their Steam handle a lot? If you go into their profile and click the arrow next to their name, you can see every nickname they have ever used in the past. That's right, Tupac and famed children's fantasy author Brian Jacques. I know who you really are, and I know that you play Borderlands 2 together every Tuesday, and you call it Borderlands Tuesday, because of course you do.
- Want to know when friends changed their names? Use this URL: http://steamcommunity.com/id/[insert
- Want to know all sorts of fun info about your graphics card, including exactly how much dedicated video memory it has? Open up Steam Big Picture Mode, then go to settings. From there, select "system."
- If you block a friend, their Steam friends list tells them you're offline. However, if they check Steam groups and things of the like, they will be able to see your actual status. That really sucks and I hope Valve changes it. For now, though, you've been warned.
- Want to step behind Steam's vaunted bluegray curtain? Find your Steam icon and right click it. Go to properties and add "-dev" and "-console" to the text in the field titled "target." That will add a "Console" tab to the top of Steam alongside things like Steam, Library, Community, and whatnot. It opens a command-line-based developer's console.
- Here are a bunch of commands you can use in dev consoles, some with Steam itself, and some in Source games (Half-Life 2, etc).
So there are some lesser known Steam features you might find handy. Are there any others you can think of?