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Slow Steam/Compatibility Mode Fix
By ÐarkÎce
This guide explains step by step how to remove Windows Compatibility Settings that are applied without warning and don't appear in the properties window of the .exe files, often making Steam run slower, freeze or hang.
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About this guide
This guide explains step by step how to remove Windows Compatibility Settings on Steam, the Steam Overlay and the Steam Service that don't appear in the properties window of the .exe files. Windows often applies settings without any warning or permission, which means that Steam will typically run slower, freeze or hang. This issue is made worse because Steam only sometimes warns for settings applied to Steam but never the Steam Overlay or Steam Service.

You might find that this fix helps prevent freezing or that Steam runs faster even if no messages have appeared and you're not having any issues, because Steam should never be run in compatibility mode.

These settings could be added by Windows again later without your knowledge, so it's useful to check again, especially if the issues reappear.

This guide is suitable for all versions of Windows that Steam supports.
How to fix the issue
This requires quick and simple editing of the registry. Make sure you only remove entries with "Steam" in their title at the locations below.

You may wish to Easily Back Up The Registry in Windows[www.howtogeek.com] before performing the steps below.

NB: The settings may be in one or both sets of locations listed below depending on if Steam was installed and used on the same Windows account and/or was used on a different Windows account.

For example: Steam could be installed and used on Windows account X and then also used on Windows account Y.

Using more than one Steam account does not affect this and you may not have all the folders listed below.

• Press Win + R and type regedit.exe and press enter or click OK.



• Navigate to the relevant section(s) of this guide.
Installed/used on one Windows account
If Steam was installed and used on the same Windows account:

• Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Persisted\
• Remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.

• From \Compatibility Assistant\, navigate to \Store\
• Remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.

• From \AppCompatFlags\, navigate to \Layers\
• Once more, remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.



If Steam is open, restart it.
Installed/used on other Windows accounts
If Steam was installed on one Windows account but used on another:

• Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Persisted\
• Remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.

• From \Compatibility Assistant\, navigate to \Store\
• Remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.

• From \AppCompatFlags\, navigate to \Layers\
• Once more, remove all entries with "Steam" in their title.



If Steam is open, restart it.
More info about the issue
When the Program Compatibility Assistant message does appear, the Compatibility tab of the program reports that no settings have been applied (which is also the case if the message doesn't appear), yet in some cases, Steam complains that it shouldn't be run in compatibility mode.





In my case, both Windows and Steam didn't warn that compatibly settings had been applied, which makes this issue even more problematic, especially when they can be applied to either Steam, the Overlay or the Steam Service and only a warning is displayed for Steam.

Before this fix, Steam was opening slowly, freezing frequently and hanging on "Preparing to launch..." for games. In addition, Team Fortress 2 froze for 10 seconds whenever the backpack, class loadout or server browser was opened.

After defragging, scanning for errors and scanning for viruses, the issue was still present. It was only after Windows stated that compatibility settings had been applied to "GameOverlayUI.exe" that the cause was found: In regedit under the compatibility layer keys, several items were listed with Steam, including the Steam client itself, which Windows had failed to mention before.

After removing all entries related to Steam, the client opened and logged in almost instantly. The "Preparing to launch..." window appeared for a much shorter duration before playing games too.

Later, after I bought new PC and installed a fresh copy of Windows, Steam was freezing while opening again. The cause once more was that Windows had applied compatibility settings without warning to SteamService.exe, with no warning from Steam either.

In addition, each time Steam is removed from: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Store\ and then Steam is opened, the entry is added again, although none of issues listed above reoccur after this single entry is re-added.


3 Comments
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Frosty Mcgee Jun 21 @ 10:31am 
For some reason, I don't have Store in Compatibility Assistant. Is there a reason it isn't there?
monsto Jan 3 @ 11:09am 
Excellent guide. One problem tho:

"Remove all entries with "Steam" in their title."

That's a bit excessive. I have mods, helper apps and other things that reside in their respective games dirs that require all kinds of different permissions for different reasons. This 'order' would cause problems with those programs as those settings reside only partly in this area.

I would suggest that since this guide is about steam performance, then it should focus on steam.exe, steamservice.exe, and directly related executables.

With that one exception, this is a decent guide about a little known windows "feature". I really wish windows would stop being so blindly helpful. At least LOG when you're doing this kind of thing.
Nahmy Dec 29, 2013 @ 2:25pm 
Thank you for this quick and easy guide. I haven't noticed any improvements yet but I feel better knowing I took Steam out of compatibility mode. Once I got over a few hundred games the whole thing seemed to take a huge nosedive in performance.