At first glance, turning off Steam auto updates should be a walk in the park; the matter of finding the appropriate option in the settings menu and ensuring updates are turned off. That would be too easy though – Steam quite simply does not have a feature to turn off auto updates.
Fortunately, there are a few – shall we say artisanal – ways around this. Regardless of whether you have an internet connection capped at a certain number of GB per month or you don’t want to alter a game with the latest balance shifting update, you’ve come to right place to get a grasp on how to more or less shape Steam auto updates to your will.
Method #1 – Change Auto Update Schedule
Steam has a feature that allows you to curtail and schedule when auto updates take place. Making use of this, we can trick Steam into avoiding downloads altogether by limiting downloads to a time when Steam isn’t in use, for example late at night during sleeping hours when the chances of Steam being open are slim to nonexistent. Any time that suits your particular schedule will do.
- First, open up Steam.
- Click on ‘’View’’ from the menu that runs horizontally along the top of the Steam window.
- From the drop-down menu, navigate and click on ‘’Settings’’.
- Under settings, click on ‘’Downloads’’ in the left-hand menu.
- Under ‘’Download Restrictions’’ among the options that appear on the right-hand side, tick the ‘’Only auto-update games between option.
- In the two drop-downs below marked as ‘’0:00 And 0:00’’, assign a time frame when you won’t be online, say from 4:00 to 5:00.
- From the ‘’Limit bandwidth to’’ drop-down menu select the lowest option ‘’16 KB/s’’. In the unlikely event that Steam is in use during these hours, this will limit downloads to a trickle.
The method does come with a caveat; if a game is scheduled with an update, you won’t be able to play said game without downloading the update first. Unfortunately, Steam is designed to work in this manner, and there is no way around it.
Method #2 – Only Update When Games At Launch
The second method works for games that aren’t currently being played, but you don’t want to update or if you’ve downloaded the latest update and want to avoid future downloads.
- Open up Steam.
- Click on ‘’Library’’ from the horizontal menu running near the top of the Steam window.
- Hover over a game and right click, then select ‘’Properties’’ from the menu that appears.
- In the window that appears, click on the ‘’Updates’’ tab.
- Under the ‘’Automatic updates’’ drop-down menu, select ‘’Only update this game when I launch it’’.
- Close the ‘’Properties’’ window.
Follow the same steps for all the games in your library, which can be painstaking if yours is teeming with titles.
From here, you can avoid downloading updates at launch by simplifying turning off your Wi-Fi or cabled internet connection before launching a game. By doing so, Steam will be unable to establish a connection to check for updates and, therefore, won’t be prompted to begin downloading any updates.
The Final Word
As you’ve probably gathered, the techniques are workarounds rather than robust solutions and don’t completely turn off Steam auto updates, but as we all wait with bated breath for Steam to implement a definitive auto download toggle, they are, unfortunately, the only methods available to us.
If you are prone to playing an online multiplayer game, then the chances are that access is patch dependent and there is no way to bypass updates if you’re hoping to play.