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How To Make The Most Of Steam Big Picture Mode

Boot Into Big Picture Mode

When you sit down in order to do a bit of lounge-based gaming, you don’t want to have to struggle with the interface to get it working every single time. No, not at all. Instead, you want to adjust it so that your connected PC launches in Big Picture mode the first time, as well as every time.

To do this, follow the three easy steps:

  1. Open Steam's Settings pane and click "Interface"
  2. Check "Run Steam When My Computer Starts"
  3. Check "Start Steam In Big Picture Mode

And it’s done.

Flesh Out Controller Support

Out of the box, a lot of Steam games include controller support. The highly preferred device is the Xbox 360 controller. Still, not every title has controller support by default.

For those games that aren't supported, if you wish to map the inputs of your controller to the corresponding keyboard, as well as mouse inputs you’re used to, you can use an app called JoyToKey. For that, it’s necessary to have regular PC inputs connected to the initial setup, but once it’s done, you can control any game with just a controller.

After you’ve installed JoyToKey:

  1. Create a new profile for each game you wish to map. Name it after that game.
  2. Map each button of your controller to the corresponding key for in-game controls. This list of buttons will help identify which buttons are associated with which keymap. Repeat for each unsupported game you need to map. Note: This step may require some trial and error, so make sure to test your layout before finishing.
  3. Click Settings and select "Associate profiles with applications".
  4. Click "Add" to start a new profile association.
  5. Enter the game name in the first box.
  6. Locate the .exe file for the game you wish to run, then enter its entire file path into the second box.
  7. At the bottom of the drop-down box, select the profile you created that you wish to associate with that game (it should have the same name).
  8. Click OK.

JoyToKey will now run in the background and activate the profiles necessary for each game as it launches. This means you shouldn't need to touch the mouse or keyboard again after the initial setup.

JoyToKey is a free program, but the interface is awkwardly cumbersome. But you can also try out Xpadder if you like. It costs around $US10 and has a somewhat less obtuse interface. As for Mac users - they can try out Joystick Mapper.

Stop And Smell The Daisies

As we know, entering text on a console has always been a burden. Alphanumerical panels on-screen always suck, so Steam has created a solution by introducing something called the Daisy Wheel keyboard. It makes everything so much better for controller users. If you master it, your Big Picture experience will become way better.

The keyboard of Steam Big Picture looks more like a lotus flower. When you want to select keys, you have to move your left thumbstick in one of eight standard directions, then you need to pick one of the buttons on the right side of your controller.

This gives you an instant access to every character in a way that a virtual QWERTY keyboard can’t at all. And the cool thing is that this lotus is not that awful. In fact, it’s actually kind of awesome. It’s quick and intuitive. It can’t quite outdo a physical keyboard, but it’s better than any other virtual typing ever.

Remote Play

If you wish to knock out a quick game on your home-theatre PC or laptop despite the fact that you have a powerful gaming PC in one corner of your house, you're officially in luck. Valve has created its In-Home Streaming service available to any Steam customer. It’s a simple concept - when you have two computers being on the same network, log into Steam on both computers, and they're automatically linked. Afterwards, you are able to remotely install, launch and play games on your laptop (or any other remote PC on that network) as if you were sitting in front of your advanced gaming rig.

GG Engine

GG, Annie!