How to reduce Steam’s RAM usage from 400MB to 60MB

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Want a lighter steam experience that doesn’t use 400MB of RAM just to display your game library? We will show you how to reduce this ram usage to a cost of 60MB and get a smaller steam client.

What is the Steam Client WebHelper?

Steam, like many other modern apps, has a built-in web browser. This embedded web browser is named “Steam Client WebHelper” (steamwebhelper.exe).

When you launch Steam, it normally launches several background WebHelper processes, we counted seven. These are used to display the Steam Store, Community, and even your game library.

But what if you could get rid of Steam’s WebHelper processes? Well you can, with a hidden command line option.

Launching Steam Without Steam WebHelper

First of all, if you have Steam open, you will need to close it by clicking on Steam> Exit.

To start Steam this way, you need to know the location of the steam.exe file on your PC. On a 64-bit Windows PC, it is normally installed at C: Program Files (x86) Steam steam.exe by default. If you installed Steam in another location, use that location in the command below.

To launch Steam without the web browser components, you will need to launch Steam with the -no-browser command line option. It’s also useful to start Steam in Small Mode, which you can normally access by clicking View> Small Mode in steam.

To launch Steam with these options, press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box. Copy and paste the following text into the Run dialog (assuming you have Steam installed in the default location) and hit “Enter” or click “OK”:

“C: Program Files (x86) Steam steam.exe” -no-browser + open steam: // open / minigameslist

Launching Steam with the Browserless Command Using the Run Dialog

Steam will launch in small mode with no web browser components. If you look at your Task Manager, you will probably see that it uses 60MB of RAM or less.

Steam using very little RAM in browserless mode.

You can click View> Large Mode to display the normal Steam interface, but you will just see a message informing you that the Steam browser is disabled.

(You can click View> Small Mode to use Steam in a more minimal view, even when the browser is enabled, however, Steam’s WebHelper processes will still be running in the background, and you won’t see these. RAM savings.)

Steam saying it can't view library without browser enabled

What works without a browser, and what doesn’t

As of October 2020, Steam’s little mode works great with the browser turned off, for the most part. You can view your game library, install games, and launch them. You can access all normal Steam settings. You can even use Steam offline.

One great feature is missing: You can’t actually uninstall a game with the browser disabled. (However, you can install games.)

You also cannot view your achievements, access other community features, or browse the store and purchase games with the browser disabled. You can still access the Steam store and community pages by logging into the Steam website in a normal web browser.

Recover Steam Browser

To recover the browser, close Steam by clicking Steam> Exit, then launch Steam from a normal desktop shortcut. Steam will launch with the browser as long as you do not launch it with -no-browser.

Creating a shortcut that launches Steam without the browser

If you prefer this mode, you can create a shortcut that launches Steam without the browser.

For example, if steam is pinned to your taskbar, right-click the Steam icon on your taskbar, right-click “Steam Client Bootstrapper” and select “Properties”.

Open the Properties window of the Steam shortcut

In the Target box, add a space followed by the following:

-no-browser + open steam: // open / minigameslist

Assuming you have Steam installed in its default folder on your system, it should look like the command you used in the Run box:

“C: Program Files (x86) Steam steam.exe” -no-browser + open steam: // open / minigameslist

Now when you launch Steam from your taskbar, you will get a leaner and minimal experience. If you need to uninstall a game or use other Steam browser features, you can quit Steam (Steam> Quit) and then launch Steam with another shortcut, such as the Steam shortcut in your Start menu.

To undo the change, all you need to do is open the Properties window for the Steam Shortcut and delete the text you added to the Target box. It should just look like the following:

“C: Program Files (x86) Steam steam.exe”

Of course, a few hundred megabytes of RAM isn’t a big deal on a modern gaming PC. But, if you are looking for a way to free up some RAM while playing, this is an easy one.

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