I have enough games in my Steam library that I prefer to organize them into seven or eight categories. This is especially handy for things like those bundled Mac versions of Civ (no Macs in the house) since I can just mark them with a "Not for me" category name and hide them from the big list.

Unfortunately, Steam will sometimes forget all about those categories, leaving you back at the alphabetized list: no Favorites, no nothing. It's very annoying and I really don't want to have to reset all the category names. What I'd really like to be able to do is get the configuration file from the desktop machine and copy it to the laptop which has just forgotten all of its categories.

So, where are those configurations stored? Will Steam pick the categories up if I give it the correct configuration file(s)?

1 Answer 1


The categories are stored in the file $STEAM/userdata/$UID/7/remote/sharedconfig.vdf, where $STEAM is the Steam install directory and $UID is your numeric Steam user ID. If you're the only person who uses that install, there'll only be one directory in userdata/, so it's easy enough to find.

In principle, this file should be synced to the Steam cloud and every Steam client you log into. In practice, Steam seems to misplace it sometimes, or roll it back to an earlier version unexpectedly. Backing it up and restoring it when your categories go away should restore the categories as they were when you backed it up - don't restore it while Steam is running.

Anecdotally, explicitly exiting Steam after making category changes (as opposed to logging in from another machine or letting it run until the next power outage) has a high success rate of not losing my category changes, but I don't know what the actual cause is.

  • I've seen similar advice on the explicit exit. That has seemed to preserve my categories in most cases until this past weekend. Now I'll at least be able to hang onto a backup copy of the file.
    – Axiom
    Sep 24, 2013 at 12:16
  • 3
    How wonderful that it's stored in the install directory rather than my user directory.I excluded install directories from my backup because the data in there is usually considered to be easily restored by a reinstall. Valve - either don't lose our data in the first place - or store it in our user directory - please?
    – andybak
    Jun 4, 2017 at 8:44
  • All of the settings except the very little and mostly unnecessary data that's stored in the Windows registry is stored within the Steam installation in places like ../Steam/userdata/userID/ and ../Steam/config, and the data for installed apps & non-default Steam Library folders is in ../Steam/steamapps/. And of course instead of using some imaginary registry Linux and Mac use a file called registry.vdf that's right there in the root at ../Steam/registry.vdf, lol. Most of it is mapped out on GitHub in a project I started called Steam-Data.
    – l3l_aze
    Jan 22, 2018 at 8:35

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