Steam Deck hotkeys are all about saving time and the ability to navigate games that aren’t currently verified to work on the Deck.
For example, Fallout 4 runs at 50 to 60 frames per second on the Deck but it isn’t classed as verified by Valve. One of the reasons for that is down to the on-screen keyboard not automatically kicking in when you select a text box.
Here’s the thing, though: Once you learn the important Steam Deck hotkeys, you can easily bypass problems like that and play unverified games with little to no issues. In Fallout 4’s case, the issue is resolved by simply pressing the Steam button and X to bring up the on-screen keyboard. How easy is that?
It’s not just handy problem-solving commands the Steam Deck hotkeys are designed to solve. Along with being able to use mouse functions while the controller is set to gamepad, there are handy accessibility features like being able to zoom in on a portion of the screen (Steam button and L1).
You won’t need to memorize all of them, of course, but having played on my Steam Deck for ages now, it’s worth at least familiarizing yourself with some of the commands to avoid headaches somewhere down the line.
Steam Deck Hotkeys
Below you’ll find every single hotkey command available on the Steam Deck. The hotkeys I’d recommend taking a look at are the ones to bring up the on-screen keyboard, how to force close a game, the magnifier function, and how to activate the mouse via the right trackpad.
When you’re playing a game, the Steam Deck default to gamepad controls in most cases, which means you lose the helpful mouse functionality. This can be troublesome when you need to move the mouse over something to click.
Normally you’d have to pop the Steam menu, change your controller configuration over to an emulated mouse, go back in-game to click the thing, pop the Steam menu, then change back from the emulated mouse to gamepad. This is way too long-winded and it’s much, much faster to use the mouse hotkey by holding the Steam button and using the right trackpad. How much quicker was that?
|Steam Deck Hotkey Command||What It Does|
|Steam button and B (keep them held down)||Force game shutdown|
|Steam button and X||Brings up the on-screen keyboard|
|Steam button and L1||Toggles the magnifier function|
|Steam button and R1||Takes a screenshot|
|Steam button and L2 (half pull)||Right mouse click|
|Steam button and R2 (half pull)||Left mouse click|
|Steam button and right stick||Uses the right stick as a mouse|
|Steam button and right trackpad||Brings up and moves mouse cursor|
|Steam button and R3||Left click mouse|
|Steam button and up on the left stick||Increases brightness|
|Steam button and down on the left stick||Decreases brightness|
|Steam button and D-pad right||Enter key|
|Steam button and D-pad down||Tab key|
|Steam button and D-pad left||Esc key|
Some things worth keeping in mind: You can’t always use hotkeys. For 90 percent of problems you’ll be fine, but there are specific times when a hotkey won’t work.
In gaming mode (the mode when you turn the Steam Deck on), you should be fine. But in desktop mode, that’s where things can stop working. Steam-launched games are fine, but when you boot a program through desktop mode’s start menu compatibility issues may arise. Emulators in particular can be a pain to close if they’re running in fullscreen. The force close hotkey just doesn’t want to kick in.
As I say, hotkeys work for the most part. It’s only when you start tinkering outside of what the Steam Deck is primarily designed for – playing games from Steam – that issues may arise. I only mention this in case you do run into trouble so you know it’s not your Steam Deck that’s acting funny, that’s just how things are.