Let's say I have two friends (A and B) who shared their libraries with me. Let's also say they both own a copy of the game I want to play, and that I don't own it myself.

Now logic would say that if one of my friend (A) is playing this game, the Family Sharing system would make the switch and allow me to use my second friend's library (B's).

That doesn't seem to be what's happening.

What seems to be happening is that the game seems to be ONLY in the shared library of the first friend who shared his library with me (A). As a result, when A is playing this game, i can't play it as well, even if B isn't using his library.

Is this a known issue ? Is there a way around it ?

Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    are you able to play the game when B plays it? Otherwise it might be "working as intended".
    – npst
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 19:34
  • Looks like it's time to stop being friends with friend A. ^^.
    – Xrylite
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 22:15
  • @npst, i am able to play it when B is playing it Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 0:15
  • 3
    I'd consider this a bug. A user should be able to play all games he has access to. You should post this in the official big report forum, maybe valve will fix it. steamcommunity.com/groups/familysharing/discussions/1 Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 7:45
  • 1
    One simple workaround could have been to create a different account for every user beyond the first sharing his library with you. No account using 2 shared libs = no conflicts. Also, note that some game are fully DRM-free, and can be played without further restrictions once installed, as long as you don't launch them via Steam (personally, I don't buy DRM games)
    – Balmipour
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 22:49

5 Answers 5


As Scott Weldon said, there doesn't seem to be any way to do this other than disabling sharing of the friend whose library is in use, or using offline mode as Jaxir said to prevent the library from being in use in the first place. You can change the order in which your friends share libraries with you by having them unshare and reshare the library with you, in order to play your games with the library of whichever friend is least likely to be using it, but for a general solution to choose which friend's library to use, you'll need sfs-select.

SFS-select is a python tool to enable and disable friends' shared libraries by modifying the local cache remembering which accounts have authorized you. It's a bit of a clunky workaround, but it lets you pick exactly which friend's library you would like to use for a shared game, without needing your friends to log in to your computer again, or changing the actual permissions registered on the Steam server at all. It includes both graphical and command-line versions. You can download it here or read about it on the Steam forum thread.

  • Looks like a nice tool Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 10:28
  • It's 2019 and sfs-select works like a charm. Thanks for that!
    – Dan H
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 21:25
  • 5
    The link to sfs-select includes a manual-editing.txt file with instructions for doing this by hand for those hesitant to run scripts or executables from the internet. This made my day. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 7:31
  • I tried this today and Microsoft caught a trojan from the .7z file (I went with the 0.5.0 version which was updated relatively recently). I then also tried the manual editing of my config file and there was no change other than the order of the libraries, it still used the original library for the game I wanted to play. Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 4:25

I had the same problem. Unfortunately, this seems to be by design. I don't have a solution, but I do have a workaround: temporarily disable the sharing of user A's library with you, and you will be able to play user B's copy of the game.

This is rather inconvenient though, especially if this happens frequently (or if you have several shared libraries with the same game), so hopefully Valve gets this fixed.


The other answers provide workarounds, but do not mention Steam's official policy (which may not have been available when the question was asked). I am adding this for completeness, since the question asks "Is this a known issue?"

According to Steam's Family Library Sharing FAQs, you cannot choose which library you borrow from.

Relevant excerpt (emphasis mine):

Can I share specific games?

No, libraries are shared in their entirety. You aren't able to select specific games to share or exclude.

Additionally, for users that are borrowing multiple Steam Libraries, they will be unable to choose who they borrow a game from.


I've only shared my library with one person. However, I believe that in the Steam library, you receive a 'dropdown' category that says "X's Games" or something like that. You should be able to select which library you're going through as I don't believe it is a collective whole that combines directly with yours.

Maybe switch your view if you don't see that as it may only be visible in the list one (can't remember the names offhand).

I can look into this more, but I thought since this is somewhat of an open question, I'd provide what insight I had in case it were something as simple as that.

  • 2
    There are indeed the dropdowns "A's games" and "B's games", but this particular game doesn't appear in "B's games" even though i'm absolutely positive that both A and B own the game. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 0:15
  • 1
    @AntoineCombes My thought is to try and isolate the issue. Does any game in A's list show up in B's? Could you check their Steam Profile (on the Steam website itself) to make sure the game is there? People can use the "Add a Game" button on Steam to have games show the "Now Playing" even if they never bought it through Steam.
    – Xrylite
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 17:02

just wanted to say that the best workaround for most single player gmaes is to play in offline mode.

See, your partner is using share game and you want to play singleplayer game that is in your library but not in his/her library (no matter if he has the game or not). You go into offline mode and start playing. Because you are offline from steam server, information that you are playing wont kick your online friend using your shared game out.

While this does not solve the whole root problem, it helps in most single player games cases.

  • 1
    if it does not solve the actual question, you should post it as a comment, as it is not an answer.
    – user106385
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 2:27

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