You can also manually create a backup of your game's installation folder and restore it after performing a clean install.However, after a clean install or restart, Steam may not recognize the installed game and prompt you to reinstall the application.
This is a common problem on Windows 11 and 10 computers.Fortunately, with a little tweaking, you can force Steam to find your game from the installation directory.Here's how to get Steam to recognize the games installed on your computer.
Why doesn't Steam recognize my installed game?
If you change the default Steam folder, Steam may not recognize installed games.In other cases, sudden shutdown of the Steam client and loss of the game's .acf file are also common reasons for this issue.
You can try the following methods to let Steam recognize the installed game, thereby saving time and data in re-downloading the game.
1. Reinstall Steam games without downloading
According to the information provided by Steam, some games may not be installed if the Steam client cannot recognize the installation files.As long as the game folder is in the correct location, you can start the download process.This will force Steam to recognize the existing installation files without having to re-download the files.
Follow these steps to reinstall your game on Steam without downloading:
1. Open File Explorer (Win + E) and navigate to the following location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common
2. Make sure that the folders related to the affected games exist in the above location.
3. If so, launch the Steam desktop application or log in if the session has expired.
4. Next, make sure you are not in Home view.To do this, click the Home View icon in the upper right corner of the screen and enter your password to exit Home View.
5. Next, open the Library tab in the upper left corner.It lists all the games you own and installed on your PC.
6. Click on the affected game and then click the Install button.
7. When Steam starts installing the game, it may recognize the existing files and complete the installation without downloading the game files again.
2. Add existing installation folder
You can change the default game download location on Steam and save larger games on a different hard drive or partition.If you have previously moved your game or customized where your game data is stored, Steam will not be able to find the game files and will show it as uninstalled.
To resolve this issue, you can use the Steam Manager to manually add any existing game folders to the Steam client.
1. Launch the Steam client and make sure you are not in "Home View".
2. Then, click on Steam in the upper left corner and select "Settings."
3. In the Settings window, open the Storage tab in the left pane.
4. Click the drop-down menu under "Storage."By default, it displays the current game storage drive and location.
5. Select Add Drive from the drop-down options.
6. Click the drop-down menu in the "Add New Steam Library Folder" dialog box and select "Let me choose a different location".
7. Next, click on the Add button.
8. Browse your storage drive and select the Steam game folder you want to add.
9. Click the "Select Folder" button to add a folder.
Steam will look for game files in the newly added folder.If found, it will appear in the Steam library.If the game does not appear immediately, restart the application and check the library again.
3. Manage .acf files of Steam games
.acf files in Steam are used to store data and configure cache.Basically, each .acf file has a unique appid (application ID) and stores game information such as installation and DLC download status, buildid (build ID) and other user preference information.
If the .acf file associated with a Steam game is missing or corrupted, Steam may not recognize the installed game.To resolve this issue, you can move the existing .acf file out and then back in, forcing Steam to recognize the installed game.Before starting, remember to check if there is enough space to install the Steam game.
1. Start the Steam client on your computer.
2. Open the "Library" tab.
3. Then, select the game you want to play.It will appear as "Not Installed" with an "Install" option.
4. Click the "Install" button, select the installation directory and click "Finish".
5. Then, hover your cursor over the Library tab and select Download.
6. Click the "Pause" button to pause the download of the affected game.
7. Next, click on Steam (top left corner) and select Exit.It is very important to exit the Steam client.If you close the application without exiting, you won't be able to make the necessary changes.
8. Press Win + E to open File Explorer and navigate to the following location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\
9. If you changed the default Steam installation folder, navigate to the corresponding directory and check that all game files are present.
10. In the SteamApps folder, locate the .acf file associated with the affected Steam game.For example, Counter-Strike: 730 is the appid (application ID) of the game.Likewise, all games have different appids.You can find the appids for all Steam games at Steamdb.info.
11. Find the appmanifest_appid.acf file of the game in the steamapps folder and move it to another folder or to the desktop.Do not delete the file as you will need to move it back again.
12. Next, launch the Steam application and open the Library tab.It will show that the affected game has been uninstalled.
13. Exit the Steam client.
14. Next, move the appmanifest_appid.acf file back to the steamapps folder located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\.
15. Launch the Steam application and proceed with the update/download. Steam will find existing game files and display your game in the Steam library.
Let Steam recognize installed games
After reinstalling Steam, installed Steam games often become unavailable or appear uninstalled.You can fix this by pointing Steam to the correct alternate installation directory or reinstalling, thus forcing Steam to recognize the game.
If the problem is caused by a corrupted .acf configuration file, the missing files can be restored with a few tweaks in the Steam library and installation directory.
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