Steam's latest update improves the management of downloads

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 7, 2021

Valve released a new beta update for its Steam gaming client this week that improves the management of downloads significantly. While in beta currently, it usually takes a couple of weeks before beta features land in stable versions of Steam.

Game and content downloads have always been a thorn in the side of many Steam users. The interface was clunky, lacked information, and not a pleasure to work with at all.

Steam's new downloads page addresses many of these criticisms. It features a redesigned downloads interface that has a nicer look with a new color palette and game art displayed right on the page; this way, you get a visual reminder of what is currently being downloaded by the client without having to look at the download queue.

steam new downloads manager

The new game download progress bar displays the total progress in the new client version and not just the downloading content progress. Steam did not highlight the disk allocation process in the previous version, and that made downloads appear complete when they were not.

The context menu lists options to launch the game once its download has completed. Valve's release notes suggest that there will also be a new option to suspend download throttling, if enabled, using the context menu. The option is only displayed if download throttling is enabled in the Steam settings.

steam downloads context menu

Content that is partially downloaded is displayed with a shaded progress bar for better visual distinction; this happens when you pause a download, e.g. by moving another download to the top spot. Speaking of which, the new downloads manager supports drag & drop, meaning that you may easily rearrange the download queue using drag & drop operations.

Another feature that is highlighted by Valve is a new tooltip that is displayed when users hover over the i-icon next to the content's title. It displays the types of content that is included in the update, e.g. game content, downloadable content, or workshop content.

The "view news" button has been changed into a "Patch Notes" link that opens an overlay with the latest patch notes for the game, but only for games for which the publisher/developer has submitted patch notes to Steam's event system. Patch notes will only be displayed for updates.

Closing Words

The redesigned Steam downloads page is a step in the right direction, as it improves usability considerably. Users who never open the downloads manager won't benefit from the change, but if you download several games or updates at once, you get more control over the downloads and more information about the individual updates.

Now You: do you use gaming clients? Anything that you like to see that is missing?

Steam's latest update improves the management of downloads
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Steam's latest update improves the management of downloads
Valve released a new beta update for its Steam gaming client this week that improves the management of downloads significantly.
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  1. zcx said on August 7, 2021 at 9:24 am

    unless it stops autoupdates from happening despite the games having been set as only update on launch… it’s not doing much.

    1. Dave said on August 7, 2021 at 6:27 pm

      @zcx If that is your goal you will have to learn how to play your games offline.

      I don’t mean the steam offline mode because that’s a lie.

      Unless you take steps to block it, steam is always online, always watching you, always reporting back what files are on your drives and what webpages you open. Read the EULA, you allow them to do this.

      I don’t condone outright pirating but I don’t consider modifying software that I have purchased so that it functions in a way more inline with my own privacy preferences to be illegal so long as it doesn’t affect anyone but myself.

      1. DrKnow said on August 8, 2021 at 4:37 pm

        @ Dave
        What utter paranoid nonsense.

      2. Dave said on August 8, 2021 at 11:30 pm

        Go educate yourself

        Look closely at sections 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.8.

      3. Dr Know said on August 9, 2021 at 5:27 pm

        Steam is NOT always online.
        Steam is NOT always watching you.
        Steam DOESN’T report back files on your hard drive.
        Steam DOESN’T report on what web pages you open (except for Steam’s own pages).

        Nowhere in the privacy statement does it say it does any of the above.
        The only things it collects are relevant to use of the services eg payment information and generalised information for running the service etc.

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