Fixes for the “Steam Stuck at a Blank Screen” Issue

This has been broken for me for months, but recently I found a fix.  Using the Steam application, all you can do is browse your library.  The store, community, forums etc;  all don’t work.  If you use Big Picture mode, everything is great.  If you use a normal browser, everything is great.

Steam though?


Steam support gave up after a couple of suggestions.  But after working through many possible fixes, I worked out what was wrong.

Here’s some of the other possible fixes first.  I worked through these initially and these corrected the issue for most people;  the solution that helped me is a bit more obscure and so I’ve listed it at the end.

Clearing the Steam Web Browser Cache


Go to the Web Browser section of the Steam settings and delete the Cache and Cookies.

Disabling DirectWrite for font smoothing


Again within Steam settings, go to Interface and uncheck “Enable DirectWrite for improved font smoothing and kerning”

Clearing the htmlcache directory

delete-htmlcache-contentsGo to Users[User Name]\AppData\Local\Steam and delete all the contents of the htmlcache folder.  Don’t delete the folder itself!

Appdata may be a hidden folder so you may need to select the options to view hidden files in Explorer (under View in Windows 10).

Disabling Compatibility Mode

(This one was taken from the Steam support pages, though they randomly move / remove entries so I thought I’d paste it here)

The following instructions are to be applied to both the Steam.exe as well as the steamwebhelper.exe.

  1. Browse to your Steam installation (Usually C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\)
  2. Right click on Steam.exe (or bin\steamwebhelper.exe), choose Properties
  3. Click on the Compatibility tab
  4. Uncheck any boxes that are checked, and click Apply
  5. Then, click the “Show settings for all users” button
  6. Again, make sure none of these boxes are checked, and click Ok
  7. Click Ok to close any open dialog boxes.
  8. Double click on Steam.exe to launch Steam.
  9. Re-test the issue.

Add Exceptions for Steam and SteamWebHelper

You might see errors in the event log about the firewall being unable to generate exceptions for the above two files;


You can manually create exceptions for those two files.

If that doesn’t work (and the errors persist) you can try copying the SteamWebHelper exe from a subfolder under \Steam\bin\cef to \Steam\bin.

Go to wherever your Steam is installed to try that.

Disable Chrome Embedded Framework Sandbox

This was originally listed to help get Steam working under WINE on Linux but apparently it works with Windows too.  Create a short-cut to Steam with the “-no-cef-sandbox” switch, ie;

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steam.exe" -no-cef-sandbox

Run Steam as an Administrator

Right-click on it and select “Run as Administrator”

Reinstall Steam

The almost-nuclear option.  There’s a guide to reinstalling here but a partial re-install (retaining your downloaded games) can be found here.

What Worked For Me In the End

None of the above worked.  I could use the normal web-browser but it made some things a bit of a pain (getting gift notifications, for example).  Eventually I took the plunge and re-installed my PC.

It still was broken!  Even though Steam was the first thing I installed!

Now I also knew I could login on another PC in the house and use Steam fine.  That pointed at a hardware problem but I couldn’t work out what would stop web access on Steam only.  The router must be ok (as it worked on other machines AND I could use a normal browser).

I couldn’t reliably reset the firewall exceptions (as above) so I thought it might be something to do with the permissions on the Steam folders.  I normally have Steam installed to c:\games\Steam to keep it organised (and for another reason I’ll come to in a moment).

I re-installed Steam to the default location:  Success!

To test I went back to the custom location;  failure.

So that was it;  something about the C:\Games\Steam folder.  I hadn’t messed with any of the permissions there.  But that I had done was mount a drive on c:\games.  So instead of having a 2nd drive on D:\, I had it on c:\games so that Steam had the whole drive to play with.

This has been my config for years, though multiple systems and OS’s.  So something changed in Windows or Steam a few months ago that stopped the firewall being able to correctly create exceptions on mounted drives.


22 Replies to “Fixes for the “Steam Stuck at a Blank Screen” Issue”

  1. I dont have steam in my C/games, and I cant do the first few steps because the entirety of steam is a black box. I cant open those options, I am on my 3rd total reinstal after trying several fixes. only thing I havent tried is making custom firewall exceptions, guess ill have to look that up

    1. When I was diagnosing initially, one of the last things I tried was installing Steam with all the defaults (location etc). When that worked fine, it pointed me at the disk location as the source of the problem. Might be worth a try?

  2. Hi, I’m on Windows 10 and I got hit with the black screen over the last few days.

    I tried everything on the list in this blog but nothing worked.

    In the end, enabling Steam to use beta mode is what fixed it. No idea why but there you are. Don’t believe this is still an issue 3 years after this post was originally written. 😂

    1. Thanks for the tip!

      It’s weird, every so often I’ll see massive spikes of traffic to the post. I don’t know if it lines up to Steam having a technical outage or after an update but it’s definitely still an issue for people!

    2. Thank you! It’s the only thing that worked for me (except for reinstalling steam, I didn;t want to try that)

  3. OMG i fixed my problem … so how i fixed the black screen / nothing opening was in my steam setting / Interface If u have a HIGH res scaling pc DO not check the box Scale text and icons to match monitor settings. the sec i unchecked that box and restarted steam with the fixes above for the Web cache / disabling Directwrite for improved font smoothing it worked!!!

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