Perhaps this is nothing new, but I just noticed this very cool feature of Steam the other week. If you have multiple PCs, e.g. a desktop and laptop, and both have the Steam client, you only need to download game updates once. So long as both computers are powered on and running Steam, assuming one has already received updates, the other computer will automatically copy its updates from the other computer.
Below is a screenshot from my Windows 11 laptop “transferring” updates for Overwatch 2 locally from my Windows 11 desktop, which had already received the latest game updates. I did nothing special to make this work, it just did.
This is of course a super nice feature to have, especially in the era of data bandwidth caps and 100 gigabyte game downloads.
For over a decade I have been leveraging the Xbox’s network update feature, a similar process across two Xboxes. I set my main Xbox One X to automatic downloads and my secondary basement Xbox (previously an OG Xbox One, now an Xbox Series S) to manual game updates. I then regularly go into the second Xbox to check for updates, explicitly updating games locally via the Xbox “Network” option. It is unfortunate the process is not as automatic as Steam’s.
I am not sure if Steam’s local update process works across platforms. My desktop and main laptop are both running Microsoft Windows. I also have a MacBook Pro running macOS Ventura 13.6.1 with the Steam client and a few games. I was not able to get an update downloaded during this writing. I did perform a small test of installing a game on the MacBook I knew was already installed on my desktop, but the MacBook install did not leverage the local copy on the Windows machine.
I could try copying an entire game from Windows to the corresponding macOS location, but I would need to prepare a bit to do that. If I am able to research more how Steam on Mac treats local file transfers, I will update this article.
I am guessing you need to be logged in with the same Steam account on both computers for this to work, but I do not have a way to test that scenario.
Thank you for reading my article. Donec deinde tempum.
Update #1 12/10/2023 – I discovered late today that the source Steam PC (i.e. where game updates have already been downloaded from the Internet) must be running and Steam launched first before you start Steam on the second PC. Otherwise, the second PC will not see the first Steam client on the network, and will start downloading from the Internet, even if you start Steam on the first PC while Steam is already running on the second. A bit confusing, yes, but simply restarting the Steam client on the second PC allowed it to detect the first PC/first Steam client and immediately start the local transfers.