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How to Activate a Steam Product Key

How to Activate a Steam Product Key

If you obtained a Steam product from an outside retailer, you will want to know how to activate a game using a Steam CD key or code. A key is an alphanumeric code that you may find in the physical packaging of the game or in the email confirmation sent by the retailer.

Say you’ve got your brand new Steam CD key--congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new game! All that’s left is to activate it. You can do this with a few simple steps:

1. If you haven’t done so yet, download the Steam client here. Launch the client, create an account, and log in. 

2. On the upper menu, click the Games dropdown then select Activate a Product on Steam... 



3. Proceed to the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Click “I Agree”.


4. Enter the game key for the game you purchased, then hit Next.

5. You will get an Activation Successful message from Steam. Click Install to download the game or Cancel to install later. Your game will appear in your Steam Library.

After registering your retail CD key, please take note of the following:

Your game will appear in your Steam Library. Once a game is in your Library, you own it permanently. You may download and reinstall it as many times as you want on any PC where you have installed the Steam client. This comes in handy should you decide to upgrade computers or if your hard drive quits on you. 

If for some reason you want to change where your games are installed, you can alter the destination folder of your Steam games. Simply go to your Client Settings menu, select Downloads, then select Steam Library Folders. You can set new target folders there. 

You may get some errors when using your CD keys. If you get an invalid key error, check for typos in entering the code (e.g. check your zeroes and O’s). If the error persists, it’s likely the key is not meant to be used on Steam. If you get a duplicate key error, the key has already been registered and is no longer valid. It’s time to contact Steam Customer support.

Finally, please keep your Steam CD key someplace safe just in case. Keys that were part of a game’s physical packaging may be used to prove ownership should an issue arise.

All that aside, do enjoy your game!

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