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Steam Deck Tips: Screenshots, Virtual Keyboard, Back Buttons, and More

Steam Deck has been around the world for a few months now and more and more people are starting to get their hands on Valve’s newest creation thanks to new devices being released every day. The handheld PC is one of the biggest innovations in recent memory, and there are a host of features at the fingertips of every user. However, that functionality is not always self-evident. Some users may not even know half of what their Steam Deck can do. To help bridge the gap between the unknown and the user, we’re going to go over several tips that can help players get the most out of their Steam Deck.

Tips for using Steam Deck

We are going to go over various tips related to Steam Deck. Most of these will be simple actions that all users will need to know how to do if they want to fully access the functionality of the Steam Deck.

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Connecting a controller

While the Steam Deck portable experience is perfect for some games, for most titles it can be a bit unintuitive. For example, when playing a multiplayer title like Fortnite, players won’t want to suddenly learn a whole new set of controls and place their hands in a different position than they’re used to. Fortunately, Steam Deck allows the use of an external controller.

To connect a controller, players need to open their Steam Deck and go to Settings, then Bluetooth. Here, turn on Bluetooth and then press the Bluetooth pairing button on the controller. After a few seconds, your controller should appear in the Bluetooth menu. When this happens press A to pair with the Steam Deck and you should be able to use the controller the same way you would on a console or PC.

If you prefer to connect your controller directly to the Steam Deck and not play over Bluetooth, you have that option too. To do this, you need a controller that connects via a USB-C cable, which should be most standard controllers on the market. However, if you want to use a controller that doesn’t connect via USB-C, you’ll need an adapter. It’s likely to be a USB-A to USB-C adapter, if you want to use something like an Xbox 360 controller. With any controller plugged directly into the Steam Deck’s USB output, you’re free to use the controller.

Using the back buttons

As any Steam Deck user will know, there are four buttons on the back of the device, two on each side. These can be assigned to any input the players wish. However, most games as of now don’t make much use of these buttons. Still, if you want to set them up for a game that uses them, you can easily do so.

While in game, press the Steam button on the left side of the device and press Right twice. This will bring up the driver interface on the screen. Players can then go to Controller Settings and then Edit Layout. From here, players can assign the back buttons, called L4, L5, R4, and R5, to any input they like.

opening the desktop

While the Steam Deck is primarily used to play games directly from your Steam Library, a full operating system is also available. Players can access desktop mode by holding down the power button and selecting the mode from the list of options. This allows gamers to open a browser and see all of their external applications. Going into desktop mode is perfect for gamers who want to access Xbox Game Pass, for example, as it can only be done through a browser.

taking a screenshot

In modern games, everyone wants to take a screenshot of something they have done in the game. Whether it’s defeating the final boss in the Elden Ring or a scoreboard image in a Call of Duty match, screenshots have become a staple of the video game industry. Naturally, Valve has included a way for Steam Deck users to take their own screenshot while using the handheld PC.

To do that, simply press the Steam + R1 buttons at the same time. If done successfully, you will see a notification box saying that you took a screenshot successfully. These shots are then stored through the Steam Deck’s Media menu.

Using the virtual keyboard

One of the great innovations that Valve introduced with the Steam Deck is the virtual keyboard. This feature is a shortcut for users to open a smartphone-style keyboard while in-game. This is perfect for users who don’t connect their own keyboard to play games. For example, if players are playing a multiplayer game like Call of Duty or CS:GO and want to text their teammates, they can do so using the virtual keyboard shortcut.

To make it appear, all players need to do is press Steam + X at the same time. This will open the keyboard, allowing players to type while staying in the game they are playing. You can also do this in desktop mode during times when the keyboard doesn’t automatically appear, but it probably should.

Disable adaptive brightness

Adaptive Brightness is a feature that most modern portable devices have. However, it is not the best feature to play around with. What it does is turn the Steam Deck brightness up or down depending on the ambient light in the room. So if the place you’re playing is extremely dark, the Steam Deck’s Adaptive Brightness will kick in and increase the brightness. Alternatively, if you’re playing in a well-lit area, the brightness will be reduced. While this is a good idea in theory, it doesn’t work well all the time when playing games.

To turn it off, press the Steam button and go to Settings, then Display. Here, uncheck the box for Adaptive Brightness and select the brightness that you think is right. If you need to, you can always go back and readjust the brightness.

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