Steam Controller Configuration – Complete Setup Guide


The Steam Controller is without a doubt one of the best controllers for the PC. It can however be one of the trickier controllers to get setup. It works great for games that are purchase directly from Steam but of course you want to use it to controller all of the games on your PC system. In this Steam Controller Setup Guide post we will work through the different configuration screens available within Steam and look at how you can create your own Steam controller profiles. We will look at the Steam controller mapping for different gaming titles and explain how to use use it for other games and emulators. A video tutorial is available at the end of this post.

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Steam Controller Configuration – Complete Setup Guide

Steam Controller Setup Guide – Initial Setup

A full video tutorial for the Steam Controller setup is available at the end of this post. If you have just purchased a Steam Controller the device is partially plug and play. By this I mean if you insert the accompanying USB dongle into your PC it will detect the controller and use it like a keyboard and mouse. To get the real benefits of the device and to unlock it to its full potential you need to download and install the main Steam software interface. If you haven’t all ready head over to steam and click the green Install button found at the top of the previous link. Once you have installed Steam any new Steam Controller profiles you create will be accessible to none Steam games as long as the Steam software is running in your PC’s system tray. [Read: Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC – Emulators & Steam]

Steam comes with two modes, the standard desktop view or Steam Big Picture Mode which is designed for the big screen TV. All of the Steam Controller Configuration is done in Big Picture Mode. To access Big Picture Mode launch the Steam software on your PC and then click on the little gamepad looking icon found at the top right hand side of your screen. You will now see the Big Picture Mode main intro spin up and Steam will move to full screen. [Read: Kodi Controller Configuration – A Gamepad Remote]

Steam Controller Setup Guide

Once you are in Steam Big Picture Mode power on your Steam Controller by holding the large button in the centre of the gamepad. You will see a notification on your screen that the device is connected. Next click on the large cog found at the top right hand corner of the screen to enter the settings page. The screenshot below shows all of the options available to you. [Read: Steam Link Review – Stream Games to Every Room]

Steam Controller Configuration
Steam Big Picture Mode Settings

Under the Controller heading select Base Configurations as shown above. This is the location for changing Steam Controller mappings and also for downloading and installing Steam Controller profiles. When you select this option you will be presented with the following screen. [Read: How to Play Games on Kodi]

Steam Controller Profiles
Steam Controller Configurations

Steam Controller Configuration Types

The image above shows the different Steam Controller configuration types available to you. I will explain what these do in turn.  [Read: Steam Controller Review – An All-Round Gaming Device]

  • Desktop configuration – Steam controller mapping for outside of Steam. This option allows you to configure how the Steam Controller behaves on your Windows desktop. This is also used when playing a none steam game or emulator.
  • Big Picture configuration – Steam Controller mapping for within Big Picture Mode. BPM has many unique features like a web browser and an onscreen keyboard. Here you can control how the device works within Big Picture Mode.
  • Steam Button Chord configuration – Steam Controller mapping for when the Steam button is held down. This expands upon the number of buttons available to the Steam Controller. When the Steam button is held the buttons can be configured to perform a completely different function. [Read: Top 5 Emulator Front-ends for your HTPC Media Center]

Steam Controller Desktop Configuration

In this Steam Controller setup guide we will focus on desktop configuration. We will create some Steam Controller profiles for a couple of games that are not available on Steam. On the Controller Configurations screen select Desktop configuration. You will then be presented with the following screen. This shows the layout of the device and your current Steam Controller mapping. [Read: RPCS3 – The Working Playstation 3 (PS3) Emulator]

Steam Controller Mapping
Steam Controller Desktop Configuration

A large visual representation of the controller can be seen with clickable options surrounding it. All of the settings found here affect desktop mode only. To change a buttons function simply click either on the button itself or on the surrounding options. Your screen will then move to the specific options for that part of the controller. Click on the four action buttons for example and you will be taken to a screen that controls what they do. Here if you click on an individual button it will ask you do define a keyboard button to map the controller button to. Once you are happy click back and you will return to the above screenshot. [Read: Gaming On Your HTPC]

Export Steam Controller Profiles

Once you are happy with your Steam Controller configuration and you have successfully mapped all of your buttons it is time to save your profile. You can export Steam Controller profiles either to your local system or online to the Steam Controller community. To do this click on the EXPORT CONFIG option found at the very bottom of the Desktop Configuration screen. This will take you to the Controller Configurations – Export menu. [Read: PS Now Available on Windows PC]

Steam Controller Setup Guide
Export Steam Controller Profiles

In this Steam Controller setup guide we will save a test profile only. We will not be sharing it with the Steam community. Select Personal from the left hand menu. Next choose Save new personal binding file. If you want to export a Steam Controller configuration to a file to transfer to other computers you can select the second option. We are simply saving to our own Steam account. [Read: Best Motherboard for Gaming]

The screen that follows asks you to enter both a name and description for your Steam Controller profile. Enter the details of your choosing and then hit Save. Your new Steam Controller Profile will then be saved and ready for use!

Steam Controller Config
Name your Steam Controller Profiles

Steam Controller Configuration Video Tutorial

The below video will show you how to create a Steam Controller profile from start to finish.

Steam Controller Setup Guide – Final Thoughts

I have said in many previous articles that the Steam Controller is not the easiest device on the market to setup. It does however do so much more than all other PC controllers on the market and if you take the time to set it up correctly it will give you an unrivaled gaming experience. This device gives you superb control and will allow you to play in a way that you never thought possible. The controller will allow you to play almost any type of game and once you get your Steam Controller mapping right the door is wide open!