How to get to and exit Desktop mode on Steam Deck

Learn how to switch to Desktop mode on Steam Deck, and how to exit Desktop and return to Gaming mode.

One of the Steam Deck’s most valuable features is the ability to switch to Desktop mode and treat the device like a miniature computer. Desktop mode will let you install handy programs like Discord, but first you need to get there. In this guide we’ll explain how to get to Desktop mode on Steam Deck. And once you’re there, we’ll also show you how to exit Desktop mode and return to Gaming mode.

Steam Deck: How to get to Desktop mode

Steam Deck how to get to desktop mode

To get to Desktop mode on Steam Deck, you need to open the Power menu. This can be done in two ways:

  • Press the Steam button, then select Power from the menu on the left
  • Hold the power button on top of the console for one second

Once you have the power menu open, select Switch to Desktop from the menu (second from the bottom), then wait for the Steam Deck to get to Desktop mode. You’ll see a message which reads “Switching to Desktop mode” briefly before the device shifts over.

Steam Deck: How to exit Desktop mode

Steam deck how to exit desktop mode return to gaming mode

Leaving Desktop mode is also very straightforward. To exit Desktop mode on Steam Deck, select and double tap the Return to Gaming Mode icon at the top left of the screen.

If you don’t have the Return to Gaming Mode icon on your desktop anymore, you can also exit Desktop mode by restarting the Steam Deck. Select the Steam Deck icon in the bottom left of the taskbar, then choose Restart or Shutdown. When you turn the console back on, you will have returned to Gaming mode in SteamOS.

Now you know how to get to Desktop mode on Steam Deck, you’ll want to also make sure you know how to bring up the keyboard when you get there. For more useful advice, take a look at our guide on how to take screenshots on Steam Deck and transfer them to PC or mobile.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video games stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry@moonrock.biz, or catch him on Twitter.

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