How to fix Steam is already running error when running the Steam client?

March 29, 2019 |

greater than 8 minutes

Steam is the biggest distribution platform for games on PC. An incredible number of users play and manage their titles on the application.

If you ended up on this page, then we have to assume you came here to find out how to fix a specific problem affecting the Steam app on Windows.

Why does the ‘Steam is already running’ error message appear on Windows 10?

If you encountered this message, then we can infer that the Steam app on your PC got closed incorrectly or it crashed. Due to the inconsistencies or irregularities involved in the closing of Steam’s processes or services, the application is likely to struggle to start up normally.

In any case, if Windows tells you that your Steam client is active – especially when you cannot get the application window to show up – then you have to get the application to launch itself the usual way. Otherwise, you will remain unable to access or play your games on Steam.

How to resolve the ‘Steam is already running’ issue on Windows 10.

Check out the recommended fixes below.

  1. Kill every Steam-related executable or process in Task Manager:

Most inconsistencies or irregularities with Steam startup components should disappear after you restart the processes or services used by the application. To restart a process or service, first, you have to terminate it, and then open the app that employs it.

Go through these steps on terminating all Steam-related processes in the Task Manager app on Windows:

  • First, you have to open Task Manager. You can do this by right-clicking on any free space on your Taskbar to see some options and then selecting Task Manager.
  • The Task Manager window must have appeared on your screen by now.
  • Go through the items listed under Apps and check for Steam.exe or any similar executable. Kill it by right-clicking on it to see the available option and then selecting End task.
  • Go through the items listed under Processes and check for any process or service where “Steam” appears. Terminate the Steam-related process or service by right-clicking on it to see some options and then selecting End task.
  • Assuming you are done killing all processes or services that have anything to do with Steam, you can exit the Task Manager app.
  • Here, you must restart the Steam client and see if its application window launches normally. If the user interface fails to appear (like before), then you must move on to the next procedure.
  1. Disable all compatibility modes and run the program with administrative powers:

If you some time ago set Steam to run with specific compatibility parameters, you have to do away with those settings now. Some reports indicate the Steam is already running error or issue is sometimes a result of users programming Steam to run in other environments. To this end, you will do well to set Steam to run using its original or default settings.

Furthermore, we are going to walk you through providing Steam with administrative privilege so that the application can execute whatever operation it deems necessary without Windows interrupting things. This way, its startup sequence is likely to be a success.

Follow these instructions to make the necessary changes to the Steam app:

  • First, you must launch the File Explorer app. On Windows 10, this keyboard shortcut should help you with this task quickly: Windows logo button + letter E key
  • Assuming the File Explorer window is up, you must click on This PC, and then navigate through these directories to get to the Steam folder: C: \ Program Files \ SteamThat path should get you to the location where Steam installs its stuff by default. If you instructed the Steam app to place its files or data in a different directory, you must navigate to that place instead now.
  • Find the Steam executable or application file (Steam.exe). Right-click on it to see the available options, and then select Properties.Your system will bring up the Properties window for Steam now.
  • Navigate to the Compatibility tab (or click on it). There, you must deselect all parameters besides the Run this program as administrator option.In other words, you must tick only the checkbox for Run this program as administrator and leave other boxes unchecked.
  • Click on the Apply button and then on the OK button to save the new application configuration.
  • Restart the Steam and see if things turn differently this time with its opening.
  1. Disable or uninstall applications that interfere with Steam:

Certain programs are known to interfere with Steam processes and services, or they employ components that come into conflict with Steam operations, at least. The result is the same in either case where the interference or conflict takes place –  the Steam client fails to start up normally, and the ‘Steam is already running’ error shows up.

If you really want Steam to run without issues, then you must be ready to act against those problematic applications. They include the following programs: antiviruses, firewall apps and similar utilities, torrent clients, file-download software, and so on.

Here is a short guide on making the right move against an application you suspect to be involved in causing problems that affect Steam:

  • Open the app, navigate through the appropriate options until you get to its Settings menu.
  • There, if you find a turn off switch, you must use it. We recommend you deselect all the parameters or components currently in use to disable the application.
  • Save the changes, restart Steam and confirm that the Steam client now displays its interface normally as it is supposed to.
  • If you still cannot get Steam to launch correctly, then you must uninstall the problematic third-party program to be sure that its features or operations are no longer involved in causing problems for Steam.
  • Bring up the Apps screen in the Settings application, locate the program you intend to get rid of, and then initialize the uninstallation operation.
  • You can also remove an app through the Programs and Features screen accessed through Control Panel.
  • Once you are done uninstalling all the problematic applications, you must restart your PC. This way, the changes that occurred are guaranteed to become active.
  • If you can now get Steam to display its standard interface or program window after you got rid of certain programs, then you must consider your success as proof that the removed applications had something to do with the problem. In other words, you were justified in uninstalling them.

Nevertheless, you have to consider replacing those applications with worthy alternatives. In your quest to find replacements, you must identify the programs that can run alongside Steam without issues. This way, you get to prevent the reappearance of the same problem you just resolved.

  1. Update Steam manually:

In some scenarios, the ‘Steam is already running’ error is a result of Steam application files becoming corrupted or damaged. A rogue or malicious program is likely to have tampered with them, or perhaps, you altered their contents or deleted them mistakenly.

In any case, to fix the problem with Steam files, you have to update your Steam client. We know too well that Steam is programmed to search for, fetch and install updates automatically. However, since you cannot get the app to run normally, you have to force the update operations through an unorthodox method.

Follow these instructions:

  • Close the Steam app (it is currently open). You must check and confirm that the Steam executable (Steam.exe) and other related processes or services are not running now.
  • You might have to open the Task Manager app and check things through there. Once you are sure that everything is in order, you can proceed with the update operation.
  • Open the File Explorer app (we showed you how to do this earlier) and go to the Steam directory.
  • Navigate through this path to get there: C: \ Program Files \ Steam
  • If you are in the right place, you should see the ClientRegistry.blob file. You have to place a backup for this file in a safe location.
  • Right-click on the ClientRegistry.blob file to see some options, and then select Copy. Go into the folder where you intend to keep the created backup, do a right-click there to see some options, and then choose Paste. Confirm that the copied file is now stored in your preferred location.
  • Assuming you are done creating the recommended backup, you can proceed to delete all the items you found in the Steam folder besides Steam.exe and the Steamapps folder.
  • Restart Steam and let the application update itself. Given the changes you made, you should no longer encounter issues with the Steam app.
  1. Reinstall Steam:

We did our best to keep this procedure as far down as possible in the list of solutions to the problem due to its disruptive nature. Well, if you got to this point, which means you are yet to find a way to resolve the ‘Steam is already running’ issue, then you have no choice but to consider uninstalling and then reinstalling the troubled application.

The operations involved in this process are not as complicated as you might think. Moreover, we will guide through them with specific steps to ensure that your game files are left intact, which means you are unlikely to lose your installed titles or the progress you have made in them. Nevertheless, we still recommend you back up games and similar programs through other means.

Go through these steps once you are ready to start:

  • Close Steam. Verify that its executable or application file and all related processes or services have been rendered inactive on Windows. Check the Task Manager app if you are in doubt on the status of things.
  • Open the File Explorer program as you have done a couple of times already. Navigate through the appropriate folders to get to the Steam directory. We must assume that you have become familiar with this particular step.
  • Now, you must move the Steamapps folder to a safe location.Right-click on it to see the available options, and then select Cut.Go to the place where you want to keep the backup and paste the Steamapps folder there. Once the backup is in place, you move on to uninstall the Steam application.
  • We insist that you perform the uninstallation operation through the Programs and Features screen in Control Panel.
  • Press the Windows button on your PC’s keyboard. Your computer will bring up the Windows Start menu screen.Input Control Panel into the text field (that shows up once you begin typing). Control Panel (Desktop app) should be the main item on the results list. Click on it.
  • Go through the menus on the Control Panel window and locate Programs and Features. Click on it.If you notice that Programs and Features is missing as a menu item, you must do this: Perform a search in the text box at the top-right corner of the Control Panel window using these keywords: Uninstall a program Click on the Uninstall a program link.
  • Now, assuming you are on the screen where Windows lists all the programs currently installed on your computer, you should see the Steam app.
  • Right-click on Steam to see some options, and then select Uninstall.If Windows displays a dialog box or window, you have to click on the Uninstall or Yes button there. Your computer will take this as confirmation and proceed with things.Moreover, your system or uninstallation wizard might present you with some options that determine how the uninstallation operation will be carried out. We recommend you go with the Automatic option.
  • Click on the Finish button.
  • Here, assuming Windows is done uninstalling Steam, you must move on to restart your computer.
  • After the recommended reboot, you must launch your browser, visit Steam’s official page, and then download and install the latest Steam client app available.TIP:If you ever needed a program that you can employ to improve the overall performance or state of your computer, then you are likely to be interested in Auslogics BoostSpeed. You can easily instruct this program to execute numerous effective optimizations and useful repairs on your PC, and these processes go a long way in getting your system to run noticeably better than before.
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