Move Steam Games & Save Files to a New Hard Drive

Jun 18, 2011 - 7 Comments

Steam

Did you just get a new Mac? Maybe you upgraded your hard drive and went with a clean Mac OS X install, but you want to maintain all of your Steam saved games from the old drive so you can pick up where you left off.

Instead of redownloading everything, you can preserve your bandwidth and copy the files directly. Steam makes this easy to do by storing all game files in a central location, you just need to copy the game files to the new drive and then reauthorize through Steam. First off you’ll want to make sure the Macs are either networked together or that the new hard drive is mounted on the system where Steam files are stored.

Now, here’s how to move the Steam game data:

  1. Navigate to your existing Steam library, located at: ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/
  2. Copy the entire Steam folder and it’s contents to that exact same location on the new hard drive (~/Library/Application Support/)
  3. If you haven’t done so already, redownload the Steam client on the new Mac or hard drive
  4. When the Steam folder is finished copying, launch Steam and you’ll be prompted to Authenticate
  5. At the Steam Authorization Required screen, select the second option “What email message? I dont have it…” this will cause Steam to email you a new authentication code
  6. Authorize a new computer with Steam to transfer saved game files

  7. Check the email associated with your Steam account, and enter the provided access code into Steam to authenticate the new computer or hard drive
  8. That’s it, game away!

The only potential problem here is that the Steam folder can be huge depending on how many games you have and how much game data is stored. If you have a couple of games and a fair amount of saved data, don’t be surprised if this is well over 40GB. Other than potentially taking a long time to transfer, the size of this folder could matter if your new drive is an SSD with limited space, you might want to check the size of the folder before moving it (select the folder and hit Command+i for Get Info) if this applies to you.

I just did migrated a huge Steam library for a friend using this method, which I found on MacLife. If you’re on a gigabit ethernet network this is substantially faster than redownloading 40GB of data from Steam directly, plus it doesn’t place a massive toll on any ISP’s monthly bandwidth limits, making it a win/win.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Games, Mac OS X

7 Comments

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  1. Rebound says:

    Great tip, I will be moving TF2 and CIV4 onto a new MacBook Air when they come out :D

  2. [...] generate. The biggest offender here is Steam, where if you play a lot of games it tends to gather a very large Application Support [...]

  3. Aron says:

    I have a problem.

    I followed all these steps, and all my games were uninstalled. Do I have to re-install them?

  4. NOnk says:

    i have the same problem as Aron

  5. Fleming says:

    Hi, I have this weird problem.. My steam files aren’t in /library/application support :(

  6. Sebastian says:

    for those people who can’t find the steam directory, make sure you are in ~/library and not /library. It’s the library directory inside your user directory.

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