As far as I've found, Steam automatically sets the following status :

Away : Person is logged in but has not been using Steam for 10-15 minutes.

Snooze : Person is logged in but has not been using Steam for 2 hours.

Online : Person is using the Steam client right now. In-game is added to this if the person is also playing a game.

Last Online : x hours ago : Person has logged out of Steam for the last x hours.

Please correct me if that's wrong. My question is, if someone's Steam status is online, does that mean they are currently using the Steam client, or that they are just logged in (Steam is in their computer's system tray next to the clock) ?

  • 1
    Isn't this basically asking for the definition of "online"? Simply, your status is "Online" if you're online (or "logged in", there's no difference). Whether you're actually using the client maximized or windowed or whatever makes no difference, like it doesn't for any other service (Facebook, Skype, Teamspeak).
    – DaniloV
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 10:50
  • Yes I was asking for Steam's definition of 'online', which I thought might be different from that of chat/IM software. What you say makes sense though. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


You are mostly correct. It's important to note, though, that Steam says you are online if the following conditions are met:

  • Steam is running on any machine with your account logged in.

  • Steam has detected mouse movement or keyboard usage within the last 10 minutes on any of these machines.

This means that Away can reliably inform you of whether or not that user has touched their keyboard/mouse within the last 10 minutes. Keep in mind Steam does not detect controller input when it determines this. That means if you are in a non-Steam game playing with a controller, then Steam will detect you as Away.

Even if you are in a Steam game and using a controller, Steam will set you to Away - but the "In-Game" status always takes precedence on the friends list so you can only see it if a friend happens to have a chat window open with you. When you go away it will show the message "{Username} is now Away." despite being in-game. This is because Online, Away, and Snooze are actually tracked separately and being In-Game does not overwrite them.

  • 2
    wait, why is steam reading the keyboard? it could very well be keylogging for all I know, at the very least lagging my processor, so if im ingame, is it reading my input on top of the game also reading my input?
    – gia
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 6:40

Having an online status on Steam means you are using a Steam client that is currently active. Showing I am playing a NON-Steam game or meaning I am just , for example watching YouTube.

Being logged in means I could have Steam X'd out, but the task is still running (Meaning I closed the Window and not completely ended the task) whilst having any type of status of online, offline, away, snooze, looking to play, and looking to trade.

  • So if my friend is Online, he/she can be logged into Steam but not necessarily using the Steam client atm, it can be minimized or hidden and they can be doing something else. Could you elaborate on the second part, I've not seen a status saying 'logged in'. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:57
  • Yes on what you said how it can be minimized etc. , and I can explain more about the second section of the Answer, When I said being logged in I was attempting to explain how you can be logged in but with the window X'd out and the task sitting there for a while not being used often or at a constant use.
    – jardesert
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 7:23
  • He could also be playing a game that doesn't use Steam. Overwatch for example. I don't add non steam games to my library, so while playing overwatch ill be shown online, but I won't usually awnser because i'm too focused playing something else.
    – Lyrion
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 9:17
  • Looking to play and looking to trade are potential Steam user status'? Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 17:43

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