I recently switched from Windows to Mac. Steam says I have fewer Mac specific games than total games and it should be an equal amount unless you can only download, install, and play once from your account. I thought I bought it so that it would work across all operating systems. If this is true, is there a work around or a discount for re-purchasing for the other OSes?

  • 4
    No, unless the game has an indepenent launcher/platform, if its hosted through steam not just as advertisement but steam as its platform then you are good. Although like @Kevin said you will loose a lot of games due to cross OS issues. Apple doesn't really like to share :P Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 6:59
  • You don't lose any games. You can't run many of them in Steam on Mac natively, but you still own the games that you've purchased.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 13:19
  • 4
    Also, the last time that I checked (a year or more ago, admittedly), you could run Steam in Wine (or a Wine-wrapper such as CrossOver) and play Windows-only games from there.
    – gWaldo
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 13:20
  • 2
    There is at least one exception where you do have to purchase the Mac version separately (filthy, disgusting, putrid, greedy CoD franchise) but this is very rare. If anyone knows of any others, please comment. (and @mention me!)
    – Keavon
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 4:03
  • Not all games have been ported to Mac. Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 10:38

4 Answers 4


Once you buy a steam game, you can use it on any computer, provided that the computer can run it. There should be no need to re-buy the mac versions of the same games, though you will need to download the mac versions of the game to your new computer.

However, not all games for Windows work on Mac or Linux. That is why your mac specific games are less than your total number of games.

There are some workarounds involving getting windows to run on your mac (in virtual machines or something like wine). If you do that, you can install a windows version of steam and play your windows games there, but they are not mac native and may not work as well as you would expect.

  • 1
    Clearly, the term PC was used here to differentiate between PC hardware and console hardware. The idea that the poster meant any specific operating system is at odds with the sentence, the paragraph, the post, and the thread.
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 18:09
  • @Yorik "PC hardware and console hardware", I think you mean "Windows OS and Mac OS". Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 20:15
  • @FuriousFolder: I think you failed to read the post prior to the edit.
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 20:19
  • 1
    There are exceptions to this. For example CoD: BlOps has a separate Mac version.
    – svick
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 22:02
  • @Yorik I did in fact read the unedited version. My point stands. Unless it's been stripped from the revision history, I'm confused why you brought up consoles. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 18:23

When you open Steam on the Mac, your game library is by default shown with a filter for games released under the "SteamPlay" label. Buying games with this label always gives you the Mac version or the Mac and Linux versions for free in addition to the Windows version of the software.

You'll see either of these logos on games with SteamPlay:

Logo for Windows and Mac support (Windows and Mac support)

Logo for Windows, Mac and Linux support (Windows, Mac and Linux support)

Sometimes a game publisher might release a SteamPlay version of a game separately from the original, Windows only version. In that case, you will need to buy the new version that includes Mac support.

Reference: Steam Support: SteamPlay

As for Windows-only games, in addition to trying out the open source Windows compatibility layer, WINE, you could also install Windows on the Mac with Apple’s Boot Camp. This has worked well for me with running games with complex graphics that might not be as optimized when running under Mac OS X.

  • 1
    This is an excellent addition to the other two answers since its important info regarding the question but still on topic. +1 Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 7:00
  • 3
    Another option for running Windows on Mac is VMware Fusion. This has the advantage of not needing to reboot just to play a game and you also don't need to repartition your disk (or boot from a secondary disk). 3D games do run accelerated in VMware Fusion.
    – DarkDust
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 8:00
  • 4
    Sometimes a game publisher might release a SteamPlay version of a game separately from the original, Windows only version. In that case, you will need to buy the new version that includes Mac support. - do you have an example?
    – user101016
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 14:04
  • 1
    In most cases, games newly released on the Mac are added to the existing product on the Steam store, which means (in theory) anyone owning the PC version gets the Mac version for free. I believe Portal did this, at least.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:45
  • 2
    @Gaurav To be fair, the Civ games have weird entries. You'd think Civ 4 would have only two library entries (Civ 4 and Civ 4: Colonization), but instead its 2 DLCs each have their own entry, and each of the four entries is duplicated for its OSX version for a grand total of 8 Steam library items.
    – Powerlord
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 15:55

Some games only run on Windows. These games, obviously, will not run on your Mac and do not appear by default in your library. Unfortunately, this is a technical limitation which generally cannot be worked around by giving Valve more money. WINE, as mentioned in another answer, may give you some success, but in my experience, it is very case-by-case in how well it works.

Steam does not make you re-buy games. (I want to say "ever," but I'm not 100% sure there isn't some really weird situation where you could end up buying a game twice). Once you own it, it is attached to your account for good.

You do need to download your games again, though. You might be able to copy the steamapps folder from Windows to Mac, but I don't have experience doing that cross-OS. It does work reasonably well from Windows to Windows, though. At the very least, it might let you just "validate integrity of game cache" instead of re-downloading from scratch.

  • 5
    Windows and Mac executables are not compatible at all, so no copying steamapps. Redownloading is the only option.
    – au revoir
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 5:00
  • @JasonBerkan: Obviously the binaries would need to be reacquired, but perhaps OP could save on asset downloads? I haven't tried it, though.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 5:01
  • 9
    @Kevin This depends entirely on how the game was ported to the Mac (or vice versa) and could be wildly different from developer to developer. Unless the OP has a tight monthly download cap, I'd recommend redownloading over micromanaging the game's files.
    – Valdimar
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 6:30
  • 4
    @Valdimar Frankly, given the level of technical knowledge displayed in the question, my advice would be "no" even with the cap. Not a criticism of the OP, but simply "if you're asking this question, you need to ask a lot more questions before you're safe to perform the potential solution"
    – deworde
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 12:22

First of all, any current Mac IS a PC, with its PC architecture and an Intel inside, broadly identical to any other PC save for a small chip saying yeah, dude, you can install that dope OS X in this computer

So if you bought a game for PC you can run it in any of the game's supported operating systems, be it Windows, Linux or OS X (which are the only ones who can currently run the Steam client). They should appear as cute little icons in the right sidebar of the game's store page both in the web browser and the Steam client.

Support may be OS version specific, though.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .