I have many games on Steam and many more I will buy, but I have a problem and I hope you can point me a solution.

When I download a game, is it possible to launch and play a single player game under Steam and continue downloading others games in the meanwhile?

Steam stops my download as soon as I launch any game, and I am looking for a way to prevent this.

  • 21
    I assume that Steam thinks you want to play online and downloading will hurt your ping.
    – ChrisF
    Jul 19, 2010 at 22:55
  • 6
    We really should be able to configure this on a per-game basis. I like to play offline because I can leave other things downloading in the meantime. Mar 19, 2011 at 3:32
  • 4
    I filed a support ticket asking Valve to at least not pause downloads when they know the game you're launching does not support multiplayer (they obviously can't for non-Steam games or games which have both singleplayer and multiplayer). That must've been two years ago or so... ;)
    – Cort
    Aug 6, 2011 at 17:19
  • Your 100 rep bounty has paid dividends, great question, @Drake! May 28, 2015 at 15:47
  • I'm playing a single player game. That's no reason for Steam to pause downloads. Oct 6, 2015 at 19:05

5 Answers 5


Global option

You can now allow downloads during any gameplay from the downloads settings:

Settings - Downloads - Allow downloads during gameplay

Per game option

You can now tell Steam to continue downloading updates/games while playing games from your games' properties. Note that this setting is not available for non-steam games, which will always use the global setting.

Updates - Background downloads

  • I presume that it's only possible to do this on a game by game basis and not make it the default for all games? Dec 17, 2013 at 7:05
  • 7
    @Thunderforge the latest beta patch added a global option
    – 3ventic
    Dec 19, 2013 at 9:39

The way I do it is:

  1. Pause all of the downloads manually.
  2. Launch the game I want to play.
  3. Alt-Tab back to Steam window, resume all downloads manually.
  4. Alt-Tab back to the game and enjoy.

It seems that it only stops the download for you on launching a game. I have not found an "official" way to do it, but this way works until they give us one.

  • 1
    That works, I do that too. Jul 20, 2010 at 4:31
  • Unfortunatly it seems to not working in recent steam. Jan 3, 2011 at 15:03
  • 1
    Lies and slander, Maciej. This still works. Thanks!
    – user7811
    Mar 15, 2011 at 14:39
  • 4
    That depends on the game you're playing, some games crash on Alt-Tab.
    – migo
    Mar 19, 2011 at 6:46
  • 2
    This solution doesn't work anymore, or at least doesn't work with the Dota2 beta. The download is "suspended", not paused, so I can't resume it. I can pause it however, then resume it, but it gets "suspended" again after a few seconds.
    – Hubro
    Dec 8, 2012 at 4:52

Steam used to block all downloads as soon as you launched a game. However, there is no need for a workaround anymore, thanks to the new content system: when you download a game, it is possible to launch and play a single player game under Steam and continue downloading others games in the meanwhile.

Fixed downloading new update while game is still running

Reference: Steam client updates.

In addition, the new content system will allow us to build several new features that we’ve often heard requested. Upcoming client releases will include things like download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and prioritizing which games get downloaded first. You’ll also be able to download an update to a game while you’re playing that game; Steam will apply the update after you exit the game.

Reference: Steam news.

Some people are talking about downloads being suspended, but I have never experienced this problem. I suggest choosing another server and trying again if this happens to you.

Apparently, a new feature is coming.


  • I see only updates are mentioned; does it also work when downloading entire games?
    – Oak
    Dec 11, 2012 at 7:10
  • I have recently downloaded games that way too (Mark of the Ninja while playing L.A. Noire), but could not find an official statement about it.
    – Wok
    Dec 11, 2012 at 7:47
  • 1
    Not a good update: store.steampowered.com/news/9951
    – Wok
    Feb 14, 2013 at 19:49
  1. While playing, hold Ctrl, Alt, and Del to go to pick a menu.
  2. Pick the "Start Task Manager" then you can go to window.
  3. Open steam then resume the downloading then click the picture where you were playing.
  4. ENJOY!
  • 13
    This is essentially doing the same thing as in Zemm's answer but with a different way of getting out of the Steam game.
    – Mana
    Aug 6, 2011 at 14:39

After the game was started, you may also ALT-TAB back into steam, and then right-click and press "Pause Download" (even though it says "Paused" already), and then right-click and choose "Resume Download". I have noticed that some games do not pause your downloads, but most games do.

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