Steam Big Picture Promo

Boot Windows directly into Steam Big Picture mode

Like everyone who has hooked up a PC to their big screen TV in the last 12 months I’ve been hanging out for Valve to release the fabled Big Picture mode for Steam. This interface specifically designed for TV’s would allow us to (mostly) do away with the keyboard/mouse combo and navigate Steam comfortably with a game controller. Basically you can kick back on the couch with a controller and enjoy what is essentially a next generation console today.

Well we finally got it earlier this week in a BETA form that, while a little temperamental, is still pretty great. Great enough that I wanted to boot my PC directly into Big Picture mode skipping the Windows 7 Desktop all together.

I have no doubt this is something Valve will build into Steam eventually, but right now the functionality doesn’t exist in Steam’s settings so you need to work at it from the outside.

This all seemed easy enough with a little Googling leading me to a few posts on the Steam forums such as this one:
http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?p=32780171

You basically create a shortcut to Steam, edit the properties and add -tenfoot or -bigpicture after Steam.exe in the Target field such as below.

This worked well and the next part seemed easy enough. Just copy the modified shortcut into the Windows 7 Startup folder and Steam would boot straight into Big Picture mode every time I turned on the PC.

Unfortunately this didn’t work out as expected, mainly due to my quick SSD boot drive and relatively slow to connect onboard Intel network adapter.

Every time I booted up the PC Steam would launch immediately before asking to go in Offline Mode. Evidently a program running off the SSD starts faster than attached hardware devices – in this case my network adapter – can initialise.

So while Steam had started and wanted to connect to the internet, the network adapter which delivers the internet hadn’t even turned on.

Cleaning up the programs and services at boot but it didn’t help much so I decided that the only solution was to delay Steam starting until the network adapter was ready.

To do this I created something that I haven’t created in a very long time, a batch file.

The batch file – I called mine startup.bat – would be placed in the Windows Startup folder and when executed wait a specified length of time before launching Steam.

Here’s what I came up with:

@ECHO OFF

TIMEOUT /T 7
REM Total Delay = 7 seconds
START "" "C:\Games\Steam\Steam.exe" -bigpicture

Here’s the breakdown of what it does:

@ECHO OFF

This basically means don’t display the code when running.

TIMEOUT /T 7

This is the amount of time in seconds Windows is to wait before launching the program. In my case 7 seconds seemed was the sweet spot, yours may differ.

REM Total Delay = 7 seconds

This shows the countdown on-screen.

START "" "C:\Games\Steam\Steam.exe" -bigpicture

This tells Windows to launch the specified executable, note I added -bigpicture at the end. It will just load the regular non-Big Picture Steam without that.

To make it all work just:

  • Just copy and paste the above into a blank file in Windows Notepad file
  • Change the file location so it matches your Steam.exe file
  • Save the file with a .bat extension
  • Put the created .bat file or a shortcut to it in your Startup folder

The next time you boot your PC, you should see a window countdown to the Steam launch, after which it will load straight into Big Picture mode.