This is more of a general question about the best way to expedite Steam downloads. I'm on a slower DSL line at home so if I end up with multiple downloads from Steam running at the same time it bogs them all down. If one of the updates happens to be a game I want to play, I end up having to juggle the downloads by pausing the ones I am willing to wait on, then un-pause them later. I'm away from my home PC so I can't really dig through the menus on Steam right now, but is there an option somewhere that will force Steam to queue up the downloads so that they run one after the other instead of it being all of them rushing for the door at the same time?
1As Steam now sets downloads to run consecutively instead of concurrently, this question is now obsolete. Thanks to everyone who helped when I originally asked it!– TechParadoxDec 29, 2016 at 21:57
As far as I know the Steam client does not have this feature. However it is a popular request in the forums, and it does appear that they are working on implementing this in a future Steam client update.
Excerpt from last link:
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.
Just a note that said Steam client update has been available for a very long time, and thus this question is mostly obsolete - as the answer below states, downloads happen pretty much consecutively now Dec 19, 2015 at 15:44
Steam used to set downloads to run concurrently instead of consecutively. However, there is no need for a workaround anymore, thanks to the new content system: it is now rarely possible to download more than two games at the same time, and most of the time, there is even at most one download possible at a time. In other words, you are forced to download games and patches consecutively, with at most two concurrent downloads.
There have been a lot of requests regarding this and other features related to downloads, eg. maximum rates for download speed, scheduled download times, forced updates while playing games instead of pausing when starting a game, and many more. These requests have been more or less actively voiced for many years now, but steam has not yet announced to implement anything in that regard.