My gaming PC (which runs on Windows) has very limited bandwith: I can connect to the internet, but cannot download a game. However I do have a macbook with access to a network with unlimited bandwith. Is there any way I can download Steam games (for Windows) on my mac and then transfer them to the Windows PC?

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    Maybe he means that the Mac has access to an internet connection that doesn't have a download limit. That would be unlimited traffic volume instead of bandwith though. It's perfectly possible that he intends to use a portable harddrive to transfer the downloads from the mac to his PC.
    – Otherside
    Commented Dec 24, 2010 at 7:56
  • Yes, I meant traffic volume. I can go to a university library with my macbook and access the network (with no traffic volume limit), but I can't move my desktop there without dislocating my shoulder or something.
    – Reneald
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


Most multi-platform games share a large amount of data between platforms, even though the actual executable is different.

Let's look at Half-Life 2 and other Source games. They have lots of *.gcf files inside the Steam\steamapps folder. Those files contain all the multimedia assets (levels, audio, textures, 3D models...), and such data is identical to both Mac and Win versions. Thus, you can safely copy such files from your Mac Steam to your Windows Steam, saving you a few gigabytes of downloads. Then, the Windows Steam will still download Windows-only files, but they are quite small, maybe less then 100MB.

It also works the other way around: copying files from Windows to Mac.

What I've described should also work on most steamplay titles, that are available on Steam for Mac and Windows. (but you might need to copy files from subdirectories inside Steam\steamapps\common)

However, if you want to download a Windows-only game, then you might need to run the Windows version of Steam. You may achieve that using one of the many virtualization options (VMware, VirtualBox, Parallels), or even try your luck running Steam under Wine (but that might be too buggy).

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    Actually, there are lots of people who successfully run Steam through Wine, to my knowledge. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 7:22

Valve's SteamCMD does just that.

  1. Download and unpack steamcmd.
  2. Cast this spell to log in, set a game directory and download the game. Fill in <your login>, or replace with "anonymous" if you're downloading a free game. Replace a 740 with your app id - you can see the app id in game URL on store.steampowered.com.

./steamcmd.sh +@sSteamCmdForcePlatformType windows +login <your login> +force_install_dir ../csgo_ds +app_update 740 validate +quit

  • Good answer, I didn't know that steamcmd allowed this!
    – ave
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 10:42
  • This doesn't work for Windows only games unfortunately.
    – uri
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 22:10
  • Didn't work for me either. Looks like Valve have closed the faucet 8( I wonder if the game in question supports SteamPipe distribution model, as SteamCMD page states. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 20:42

I'm not sure, but you might be able to do a back up of the games on the Mac and then transfer them to the PC. Obviously the executables are different between the Mac and PC, so I'm hesitant to suggest this. The sure fire way would be to use boot camp or parallels on the Mac to download the Windows versions, then back everything up (in the menu, Steam->Backup and Restore Games...) and transfer them via external harddrive.

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    I suspect it should work, you will have to download the windows binaries on the windows computer of course but most of the content (maps, textures, sounds, music) shouldn't be different between Mac and Windows. It can't hurt to try, right? Download on Mac, backup on Mac, Restore on Windows and let steam update the game (this should download the missing Windows binaries)
    – Otherside
    Commented Dec 23, 2010 at 13:46
  • That assumes that Steam will even use the backups, which, as I said, may not happen. If it does work, then yeah, the executable (and possibly some other files) will be the only things to need updating.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Dec 23, 2010 at 14:09
  • 1
    I got it right going from Windows -> Mac using Backup and Restore. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:25

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