Fixed Windows bug “Steam does not recognize installed games”

Are you struggling with Steam not recognizing installed game issues? Are you unsure why Steam doesn’t recognize installed games? Or what to do when Steam doesn’t recognize installed games.

In this article, I’ll help you solve all your questions and find out how to get Steam to recognize installed games? Steam helps users manage all their games from one place. This is very useful and makes it much easier for players.

But now many players are experiencing various problems with Steam. In this article, I will talk about one of these problems: Steam does not detect installed games that players encounter, and it appears in forum threads.

The problem of Steam not detecting games installed on your system is an issue that interrupts the user experience from time to time, so check here for the full details on why Steam is not installing and how to solve the problem of Steam not detecting games installed on your system.


What is the reason Steam doesn’t recognize games installed on Windows?


What is the reason Steam doesn't recognize games installed on Windows?

There aren’t many different reasons to blame for this particular problem. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to check and identify the cause that is responsible in your own scenario, as this can help you choose the appropriate method to solve the problem. We have prepared a shortlist that you can read below!

The `.acf’ files are corrupted, missing, or inaccessible: these files are responsible for containing data about the current state of the game and also contain information about the game files. If these files are damaged or missing, the game will appear as deleted. Even if Steam cannot access this file due to authorization issues, the problem will still occur.

Steam library folders are not configured: If you recently reinstalled Steam, you will need to add the Steam library folders that you used to use if you want Steam to find installed games there.


How do I make Steam detect installed games?

How do I make Steam detect installed games?

Reinstall the games without downloading them

If Steam does not detect any of the installed games, you will be given the option to reinstall the game. If you have game data in your Steam app folder, you can make Steam detect games by running the game installation.

  1. Start Steam and go to Games.
  2. Select the game that Steam didn’t recognize and click the “Install” button.
  3. Steam will now start detecting existing files for the game.
Manually add a folder from your Steam library
  1. Launch Steam.
  2. Click “Steam” and select “Settings.”
  3. Click on the “Downloads” tab.
  4. Click on the Steam library folder.
  5. In the pop-up window, click Add Library Folder and select the location where all of your Steam game data is stored.
  6. Click Select and close the Steam settings.
  7. Exit Steam and restart Steam.
  8. Steam should now recognize the installed games and list them in the Games folder.

By default, Steam stores game data in the Steamapps folder on the installation disc. If you had a custom location for your game data, you can try adding the location to the Steam app to fix this problem.

Discover games from a new player

If you don’t have enough space on your main drive (Steam’s default installation location) to install all your games, you can move your game data to a new drive and then manually add a game library folder to the Steam app. Here’s how.

If you want your games to be in the D:/games directory, you need to create a subdirectory called Steamappscommon. The folder structure will look like this:


After creating the subdirectory, move all the games to the newly-created directory.

After moving the games, the games directory will look like this:

D:GamessteamappcommonCounterCounter gamesAssassin Creed IV Black Flag

  1. Launch the Steam app on your desktop.
  2. Click “Steam” and select “Settings.”
  3. Click on the “Downloads” tab.
  4. Click the Steam library folder under Content Libraries.
  5. Click Add Library Folder and navigate to the location where your games were moved (new folder), i.e. the new folder. D:/games/your_sub directory.
  6. Click Select and Close to save the library folder.

Exit Steam and reboot. Steam will scan the library folder you just selected and display all installed games.

Use the .acf cache to force detection of Steam games
  1. Make sure you reinstall Steam or have an existing installation.
  2. Move the game data to
    C: Program Files folder (x86)SteamSteamapps.
  3. Run Steam. At this point, Steam may show some games that are properly installed.
  4. Select the games that show as not installed and click the “Install” button.
  5. Steam will begin to detect all existing files.
  6. However, if Steam does not detect existing files, it will start downloading files and the progress will show as 0%.
  7. Pause the game update and exit Steam.
  8. Go to
    C: Programs (x86)SteamSteamapps
  9. And find all the current.acf files.
  10. Copy all .acf files and move them to a new folder outside the Steamapps folder.
  11. Restart Steam. In the game library, the corresponding game will appear as uninstalled.
  12. Stop steaming.
  13. Move all .acf files to this folder
    C: Program Files (x86)SteamSteamapps folder.
  14. Reboot Steam. Go to the Game Library and click Continue updating for games that you previously paused.

After saving the Steamapps folder with all your game data, you can use the Steam cache files to make Steam recognize installed games based on game data. In other words, you have Steam search for the games you have.

If everything works, the games you previously installed will show up as installed. If an update is necessary, run it.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Start Steam and go to Games.
  2. Select a game that Steam doesn't recognize and click "Install".
  3. Steam will start detecting existing files for the game.

If you are sure you are logged in with the correct Steam account, the problem is most likely due to an incorrect filter setting. Please log in to your Steam account via the Steam client and make sure that all games are visible by clicking Library -> Games.

The most convenient way is to simply copy your Steam or SteamApps folder (where your games are located) to the backup directory via Windows Explorer. However, the Steam client also offers a built-in backup and restore process that allows you to select installed titles and save them as backup files.

  1. Log in to your Steam account.
  2. Click on "Steam" in the top menu bar (located in the very top left corner of Steam in Windows, or the menu bar above Steam in OSX).
  3. Navigate to the "Preferences" option ("Preferences on" OSX).
  4. Click the "Interface" tab.
  5. Select the desired language from the drop-down menu.