Steam overlay not working? – Fix the Shift Tab Issue

Steam overlay allows players to access Steam’s other features whilst in-game. You can usually use it by using the Shift+Tab combination.

This includes features likes news, discussions, guides, friends, community hub, and screenshots. In order to access Steam overlay in-game, simply press Shift + Tab.

Unfortunately, there can be times where Steam overlay fails to work correctly. There are numerous reasons as to why this could be, some of which we’ll discuss in this article.

Steam overlay not working? Do this

If your Steam overlay stops working, it’s usually down to one of these reasons;

  • Your Steam app has become outdated.
  • You don’t have the correct privileges on your Windows or Mac device.
  • Your antivirus software is preventing it from running properly – the obvious answer to this is to turn Windows Firewall or your other third party applications off.
  • In some cases, it’s a temporary glitch that will eventually resolve itself.

We’ll go through some different methods you could use to get Steam overlay working again.

Before attempting any of these solutions, make sure that you’re online in Steam.

You must be online in order to use Steam overlay. To check whether you’re online, open the Steam app and press ‘Steam’ in the top left corner.

If there’s an option called ‘Go Offline, it means you’re currently in online mode.

If there’s no option for ‘Go Offline’, you’re probably already in Offline mode. If so, there should be an option called ‘Go Online’. Select that option to go online.

After doing this, run through the following steps to fix the Steam overlay issue.

1. Re-enable Steam Overlay

Steam overlay may be bugging out a bit, so try re-enabling the feature in-game.

This solution is especially worth doing if Steam overlay is only failing to function in one specific game.

You can check whether this is the case by trying to access Steam overlay in other games.

If Steam overlay works in your other games, try re-enabling it in the game where it failed to work.

In order to re-enable Steam overlay, close the feature by pressing Shift + Tab.

Then, re-open it by pressing the same shortcut again. You can toggle the feature on and off using this one shortcut.

2. Check Steam Overlay Settings

If Steam overlay is failing to work, the issue may lie in your Steam settings.

Steam overlay can only work if it’s enabled in the settings. Open the Steam app, and go to Steam>Settings.

Select the in-game tab from the left side tab. Then, make sure that the box next to ‘enable the Steam overlay while in-game’ is checked. If it’s not, click the box to check it. Once you’re done, click ‘ok’.


If Steam overlay is failing to work in specific games, you should also check the settings for those games.

In the Steam app, click on ‘library’ to access your game collection. Find the relevant game, and right-click on it. Then, select ‘properties’.


In the general tab, make sure the box next to ‘enable Steam overlay while in-game’ is checked. If this is not the case, click the box to check it.

Close the window when you’re done. Now, you can try using Steam overlay in-game once more to see if the issue has been resolved.

3. Close Background Applications

Try closing all your background applications before attempting to open Steam overlay in-game.

Steam overlay can take quite a bit of power to use, and background applications can take up some of that power.

In order to ensure that there are no background applications currently running, open the Task Manager (Windows-key + ‘x’, then click ‘Task Manager‘).


Select the applications you wish to close, and click ‘end task’.

4. Check Shortcut

Make sure that you’re pressing the right shortcut when trying to access Steam overlay.

The shortcut is Shift + Tab by default, but it can be changed in the settings.

You can check what the shortcut is by opening Steam, and clicking Steam > Settings.

Go to the in-game tab, and look under the section for ‘Overlay shortcut keys’. The shortcut for Steam overlay should be written there.

5. Verify Game Files

Steam overlay may be struggling to work properly because of an issue with your game files.

You can check for any issues by verifying the integrity of your game files. If you’ve returned a Steam game, the files may not be present.

Related: How to Return Games on Steam

To do so, first open the Steam client. Click the ‘library’ option to open your collection of games.

Right-click on the game where Steam overlay failed to work, and select ‘properties’. This should open the game’s settings.


Navigate to the ‘local files’ tab. There should be an option to ‘verify integrity of game files’.

Click the option to start verifying your game files. When the process is finished, try opening the game and accessing Steam overlay once more

6. Restart your Steam app

The Steam client could be acting up due to some slight bug issues, which could be preventing Steam overlay from functioning correctly when you’re signed into your Steam ID.

See Also: How to Find a Steam ID

In order to fix such issues, try restarting Steam. Close the Steam app window, and check that it’s not still running in the background using the Task Manager (Windows-key + ‘x’, then click ‘Task Manager‘).


If Steam is listed in the Task Manager, it means the app is still running despite being closed.

Close the app fully by clicking on ‘Steam’ in the Task Manager, and clicking ‘end task’.

Then you can go ahead and restart Steam by re-opening the application.

7. Reinstall Game

If Steam overlay is only failing to work in one game and there’s no issue with its settings, the problem most likely lies in the game itself.

Try reinstalling the game before trying to use Steam overlay in it again.

To uninstall the game, open the Steam client and click ‘library’. Then, find the game and right-click on it. Hover over ‘manage’, and click ‘uninstall’.


To reinstall the game, make sure the game is selected in your Steam library. Then, click the ‘reinstall’ option that should be available.


Once you’ve done this, you should be able to get back to playing games within your Steam client.


In conclusion, Steam overlay may be failing to work due to you being offline in Steam. You must be online to use the feature properly.

If you’re already online, the issue may lie within your Steam overlay settings.

Make sure that Steam overlay is enabled in both your Steam settings, and game settings. If all else fails, try contacting Steam Support.

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I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

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