Last Updated on December 30, 2021 by

Top Reasons Why Steam Doesn’t Recognize Games Installed On Windows?

.ACF Files

The `.acf’ files are corrupted, missing, or inaccessible:

these files contain

  • data about the current state of the game and
  • information about the game files.

If these files are damaged or missing, the game will appear as deleted. Even if Steam cannot access this file due to authorization issues, the problem will still occur.

Misconfigured Steam library folders

If you recently reinstalled Steam, you will need to add the Steam library folders that you used to use if you want Steam to find installed games there.

Top Solutions to fix bug

Use The .Acf Cache To Force Detection Of Steam Games

  1. Make sure you reinstall Steam or have an existing installation.
  2. Move the game data to
    C: Program Files folder (x86)/SteamSteamapps.
  3. Run Steam. At this point, Steam may show some games that are properly installed.
  4. Select the games that show as not installed and click the “Install” button.
  5. Steam will begin to detect all existing files.
  6. However, if Steam does not detect existing files, it will start downloading files and the progress will show as 0%.
  7. Pause the game update and exit Steam.
  8. Go to
    C://Programs (x86)/SteamSteamapps
  9. And find all the current.acf files.
  10. Copy all .acf files and move them to a new folder outside the Steamapps folder.
  11. Restart Steam. In the game library, the corresponding game will appear as uninstalled.
  12. Stop steaming.
  13. Move all .acf files to this folder
    C://Program Files (x86)/SteamSteamapps folder.
  14. Reboot Steam. Go to the Game Library and click Continue updating for games that you previously paused.

After saving the Steamapps folder with all your game data, you can use the Steam cache files to make Steam recognize installed games based on game data. In other words, you have Steam search for the games you have.

If everything works, the games you previously installed will show up as installed. If an update is necessary, run it.

Reinstall The Games Without Downloading Them

If Steam does not detect any of the installed games, you will be given the option to reinstall the game. If you have game data in your Steam app folder, you can make Steam detect games by running the game installation.

  1. Start Steam and go to Games.
  2. Select the affected game and click the “Install” button.
  3. Steam will now start detecting existing files for the game.

Discover Games From A New Player

If you don’t have enough space on your main drive (Steam’s default installation location) to install all your games, you can move your game data to a new drive and then manually add a game library folder to the Steam app. Here’s how.

If you want your games to be in the D:/games directory, you need to create a subdirectory called Steamappscommon. The folder structure will look like this:


After creating the subdirectory, move all the games to the newly-created directory.

After moving the games, the games directory will look like this:

D:GamessteamappcommonCounterCounter gamesAssassin Creed IV Black Flag

  1. Launch the Steam app on your desktop.
  2. Click “Steam” and select “Settings.”
  3. Click on the “Downloads” tab.
  4. Click the Steam library folder under Content Libraries.
  5. Click Add Library Folder and navigate to the location where your games were moved (new folder), i.e. the new folder. D:/games/your_sub directory.
  6. Click Select and Close to save the library folder.

Exit Steam and reboot. Steam will scan the library folder you just selected and display all installed games.

Manually Add A Folder From Your Steam Library

  1. Launch Steam.
  2. Click “Steam” and select “Settings.”
  3. Click on the “Downloads” tab.
  4. Click on the Steam library folder.
  5. In the pop-up window, click Add Library Folder and select the location where all of your Steam game data is stored.
  6. Click Select and close the Steam settings.
  7. Exit Steam and restart Steam.
  8. Steam should now recognize the installed games and list them in the Games folder.

By default, Steam stores game data in the Steam app folder on the installation disc. If you had a custom location for your game data, you can try adding the location to the Steam app to fix this problem.