I am installing a few big mods for skyrim, and I don't want to wait for them to finish. Can I start playing the game and expect them to still be downloaded, so that when I restart the game later on they appear in the data list?

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    I think it should, thats why Allow downloads during gameplay (in Settings under Downloads tab) is for, right? – Little Helper May 5 '14 at 15:57
  • I thought that would only apply to games and not to workshop items. Am I wrong then? – Pizzanakin May 5 '14 at 16:01
  • Well, for me, the game Left 4 Dead 2 was downloading items from workshop while I was playing... Don't know if it's same for Skyrim. – Little Helper May 5 '14 at 16:03

Yes they will download in the background.

The only reasons mods wouldn't download is if you play a game which uses more that a specific bandwidth which steam sets.

Skyrim is an offline game aswell so they should download fine in the background.

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