The steam community overlay is an in-game interface which allows access to steam community features while one is playing the game. The default key shortcut is shift + tab which will open the overlay in any game where it is supported.
Many games support the overlay in the background to have the in-game features which require Steam. One might not even realize that the game is using overlay in such cases.
Since steam overlay is customizable steam works feature, the game will use it differently depending on the feature it supports and the development incorporated within. More details can be found in the steam community by contacting the specific game developers.
Where Is The Overlay Used In?
In game purchasing
If a game offers micro transitions, item purchases or any other type of in-game purchasing, the steam overlay is required. The overlay enables the game to communicate with steam and allows the purchase to make while playing.
Friends, games and group invites
One can access the steam chat, friend list, group or game invite in the overlay. Some games utilize the overlay for party and matchmaking invites. If the overlay is not enabled, the invites would not work.
Steam allows taking screenshots in-game by using default key shortcut of F12. The feature requires overlay to capture screenshots. The screenshots can be accessed while in the game as well.
Trading and market features
Many games with in-game inventory system will use overlay to allow players to access inventory features while in the game. If the game supports trading or market purchasing while in game, the steam overlay will be required.
Other community features
The overlay gives access to most of the features available through the steam website. Along with access to these features, the overlay has a built-in web browser.
Common Issues With Overlay
Overlay not opening up
In such cases make sure that the overlay is enabled properly and the key shortcut is correct.
Overlay freezes or becomes unresponsive
Because the overlay is a supplemental component, the system might sometime close due to the heavy load. In such cases, make sure the system is in a good state by updating the drivers and limiting the number of programs running during gameplay, also updating the operating system in use.
Enabling steam overlay
Steam has a setting which will enable or disable the steam overlay feature. Open the steam client and navigate to steam à settings or preferenceà in-game tab.
Check the box with an option “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game”.
Also See: How To Make Steam Download Faster?
Each steam game has its own settings for the overlay,
Rightclick the game in the library à select properties à under general tabà check the option “Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game”.
Steam overlay shortcut keys
The steam shortcut allows the overlay to open in the game. The default shortcut key is Shift + Tab. To change the shortcut, select Steam>>settings>>in-game.
Basic steam troubleshooting
These troubleshooting steps can be performed with minimal technical knowledge as well.
It is always the best first step to restart the steam and the computer. Restarting the system always flushes the system states and caches while resetting the other programs and locks on the files and resources.
Verify local game files
Sometimes files on hard disk and other storage device become corrupted. Some of these files may be associated with the way the game utilizes overlay. Verifying local files can fix this issue.
Fine game in library à right click à properties à local files à verify integrity of game files
The steam installer can be downloaded and reinstalled at the same location where it is already installed. This will ensure that the file required by the steam overlay is in a good state and have no effect on the installed games.
For these advanced steps, it is highly recommended to have a local IT administrator contacted for better results.
Certain firewall might prevent steam from communicating with the required game. One has to work with the tech support to ensure that the firewall is not interfering.
Investigate antivirus software
The antivirus can affect the disk and network operations which might cause an issue with steam. One has to work with the tech support to check that the antivirus is not interfering.
Investigate other programs which might be interfering
Any software which modifies or monitors the system, disk or network activity can cause issues with the overlay. These services or programs running in the background are associated with antivirus, firewalls, etc. make sure these programs are uninstalled or stopped.
Upgrade the system
If the system is below the required specifications, the overlay might find it difficult to operate.
Above are the specifications and basic of the steam overlay which is a genuine and absolute invention now.