I've got some games installed on native steam for linux. Unfortunately, my system got nuked and I had to reinstall. While I was reinstalling Ubuntu 15.04, I managed to save some of my game folders to an external disk. I saved them off of ~/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps/common/<game name>

Now that I have my OS and steam up and running, I'd like to reinstall them without having to download them, since my internet is pretty slow. I started downloading Borderlands 2, so that I would know where to put the files. It started downloading files to ~/.steam/steam/steamapps/downloading

So I made a new directory in ~/.steam/steam/steamapps/common and copied all of my game folders over. Then I quit steam and restarted. But now it is still trying to download the files, and it can't launch them. What did I do wrong?

3 Answers 3


You need the manifest of the app. The data is there but it is not "listed" in the library due to that. Manifests basically tell Steam what the app is called, what its id is, where is the source located, and default presets. Manifests are located in SteamApps and are called appmanifest_<number>.acf (<number> indicates the app number without < and >).

You can create a simple manifest by launching a text editor and formatting it like this:

  "AppID"  "49520"
  "Universe" "1"
  "StateFlags" "1026"
  "installdir"      "Borderlands 2"

49520 is the application ID for Borderlands 2. installdir points to the name of the directory in SteamApps/common where the data is located. Save the manifest with the number in the name being the same as App ID. In this case you would save it as: appmanifest_49520.acf


If it's like the way they changed it in Windows, just move the games back and start the installation. Steam will notice the existing files and skip downloading those.

  • Except that that is not working for me. That did work for a couple of them (don't starve and left 4 dead) but it didn't work for all of them. (like Borderlands 2 and half-life 2) And also, those games later would not launch.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Aug 16, 2015 at 7:29
  • @DJMcMayhem Hm... maybe it has something to do how the game files are organized, IIRC there are several ways/formats behind the scenes.
    – Mario
    Aug 16, 2015 at 19:32

IIRC what worked for me in this situation was to:

  1. Cancel all downloads in the Steam client.
  2. Exit Steam.
  3. Copy the game files to the correct path (.../steamapps/common/)
  4. Open Steam.
  5. Try to install a copied game in Steam client. Steam will then discover existing files for some minutes before starting to download anything that might be missing (e.g. intervening updates).

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