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I want to install a Steam game into a custom directory. For example, I want to install my new game which I activated through Stem but then cancelled the installation because I have the retail disc, into the directory E:\Program Files\.

How do I go about installing the Steam game into a custom directory?

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possible duplicate of How can I change the location Steam saves games on? – agent86 Feb 6 '12 at 4:07
I believe this question goes beyond what that other question asks. Gladly, it has been fully answered! Thanks Ben! – gameaddict Feb 6 '12 at 5:10
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There really isn't a way to install Steam to a custom directory, as it always wants to install in the default Program Files location -- usually C:\Program Files\ or C:\Program Files (x86). However, you can use the Windows "mklink" utility to create a file system pointer from the default location to wherever you want to store the files. Typically I do this with my game data files (everything under "\Steam\steamapps\common" within the Program Files folder), since these are the files that take up the most space.

Also, installing from a DVD is another matter, so I will answer that separately.

To install Steam data to a custom directory:

  • Locate your game data, usually under C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common (if you have 64-bit system)
  • Copy it to the new location
  • Delete it from the original location (make sure you have it copied / backed up first!!)
  • Open a command prompt by selecting Start and typing: cmd
  • In the command prompt type the following (include the quotes): mklink /J "C:\Program Files\steam\steamapps\common\GAME" "c:[new location]\GAME"
  • Example: mklink /J "C:\Program Files\steam\steamapps\common\altitude" "c:\games\altitude"
  • This will create what is called an "NTFS symbolic link" (sort of like a directory shortcut) which transparently links Steam's default directory to whatever directory you specify.

There is also an app which will do the heavy lifting for you, called "Steam Mover".

To install a Steam game from a DVD instead of downloading it, do the following:

  • Log in to Steam and click on Library.
  • Right-click on the game, and select Delete local content.
  • Insert the DVD and close Steam (Steam > Exit).
  • Press Windows Key + R to open Run
  • Type: "C:\Program Files\Steam\Steam.exe" -install D: (Replace "C:\Program Files\Steam\Steam.exe" with your actual Steam install location if different; replace D: with your DVD drive letter if different), and click OK.
  • Steam will launch and ask you to sign in if you do not have your password saved. Your installation should continue from the disc.
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Perfect! Thank you! – gameaddict Feb 6 '12 at 5:08
You could also install Steam in the first place in another directory and/or drive, but it will still be default install all its games under that main Steam directory. – Mufasa Jul 26 '12 at 19:12

You don't particularly need to use mklink. Simply empty the Steam folder leaving only the "steamapps" folder and Steam.exe, then copy it to an alternate directory and double click the Steam.exe. It'll start rebuilding the Steam client, retaining your steamapps folder in it. The games may need a repair check to ensure they're working, but most should work right away.

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Steam now allows you to install in custom locations. You can have one Steam directory per drive on Windows.

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Could you add some more detail? When was this feature added? How does it work? How do you use it? – StrixVaria Oct 26 '12 at 12:50
+1. When you install a game, one of the popups it gives you is the location. It defaults to the normal location, but you can change it to anywhere. I have some steam games on C:, but others are on another drive E:\SteamGames. Now once you do that, you can't pick a 2nd location on that same drive, E:\SteamGames (for example) is the only directory I can install on E. – Tim S. Jun 25 '15 at 0:00

As of writing, Steam does let you install games to a different directory. If you go to settings, and then the Downloads + Cloud tab, you can specify the directories you want Steam games to install in by clicking Steam Library Folders and then Add Library Folder. This will allow you to add a directory that you want to install your Steam games to, as well as deleting the old one.

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