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How to connect your Steam Deck to a PC and transfer files

You can use external storage, but there are simpler methods that cost absolutely nothing.
By

Published onFebruary 21, 2024

Let’s say you’ve captured screenshots on your Steam Deck that you’d like to see in Windows, or there are certain PC files you need to move in the other direction for retro gaming. Now what? If you want to transfer files back and forth between devices, you’ve got a few options — and they don’t necessarily involve physical media.

QUICK ANSWER

There are three main options for transferring files between a Steam Deck and PC:

  • KDE Connect, using the native Deck client (in Desktop mode) and one on your PC.
  • Warpinator, which works similarly to KDE Connect but isn't pre-installed on a Deck.
  • microSD or USB storage as long as it doesn't have Steam games installed.

JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to connect your Steam Deck to a PC and transfer files

KDE Connect
KDE

Perhaps the ideal method is an app called KDE Connect. KDE created the underlying software for the Steam Deck’s Desktop mode, so not too surprisingly, it should work seamlessly. There are KDE Connect clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, and even mobile devices.

Follow this process:

  1. Install and launch KDE Connect on your PC. In Windows, you can find the app in the Microsoft Store, but direct downloads are available for all desktop platforms.
  2. Launch Desktop mode on your Steam Deck.
  3. Open the Application Launcher and select Internet > KDE Connect.
  4. When the Deck app launches, check that your PC’s name appears in the Available list under Pair. If it doesn’t, make sure that KDE Connect is running on your PC, and that both your Deck and PC are on the same SSID (network ID). The latter is most likely to be an issue if you have separate SSIDs for your 2.4, 5, and/or 6GHz Wi-Fi bands.
  5. On either your Steam Deck or PC, select the other device and choose Pair.
  6. On the device receiving the pairing request, choose Accept.
  7. You should now be able to transfer files back and forth. To copy a file from Windows to your Deck, for instance, you can right-click on it in File Explorer and use Share To > Send to remote device via KDE Connect. Going in the opposite direction, open KDE Connect and select Share File.

How else can you transfer files from your PC to the Steam Deck?

There are alternatives available. Until recently, in fact, the most popular option was Warpinator. That app exists in the Steam Deck’s Discover store (found in Desktop mode), and has to be paired with a Windows client (Winpinator) on your PC, much like KDE Connect. Use the 64-bit installer if you want to try it. We won’t get into detailed instructions however. since they’re redundant in a world with KDE Connect unless that app simply isn’t working for you.

As you might expect, you can also transfer files using a microSD card or USB drive, but there’s a big catch — you can’t use anything you might have installed Steam Deck games on. You’ll also need storage formatted using the exFAT file system, and if you have to reformat a card or drive, you’ll lose anything that was previously there. This is one of the major reasons KDE Connect or Warpinator is preferable. On the Steam Deck’s end, you’ll only be able to move files around in Desktop mode.