How to Play Minecraft on Steam Deck the Easy Way

Minecraft: Java Edition is now even easier to get up and running on Steam Deck.

Although I’m known for my in-depth guides, getting Minecraft running on the Steam Deck is legit easy. In fact, it’ll take you around five minutes, and that’s if you dawdle.

Step 1: Switch to Desktop Mode

Image showing how to enter Desktop mode on Steam Deck

Before we get started, let’s hop over to desktop mode on the Steam Deck.

You can do this one of two ways:

  • Hold down the power buttons for a few seconds, then select “Switch to Desktop”
  • Press the Steam button, then select “Power,” then “Switch to Desktop”

Desktop mode is, essentially, the computer part of the Steam Deck (the default mode is called “Gaming Mode”). It’s here the Steam Deck acts more like a PC. If you’re looking to install apps and software, desktop mode is where that’s all done.

You’ll use desktop mode A LOT. Not only can you use it to edit Microsoft Edge to run the xCloud version of Disney Dreamlight, you can even install apps like Warpinator to transfer files from a PC wirelessly or install EmuDeck to get a bunch of emulators up and running. Desktop mode is pretty much where all the fun happens.

Step 2: How to Grab the Minecraft Launcher on Steam Deck

Image show where to click and in what order.

If you want to install Minecraft on Steam Deck, it’s actually super simple. See the blue shopping bag icon in the bottom-left corner? That’s the discover app – a place where you can search for apps and software.

Click on that icon to open it up. A new window will appear and in the search bar, type in “Minecraft.”

I did say it was simple.

There are a few different apps available here but the one we’re after is the one just named “Minecraft” and nothing else.

To the upper-right of the Minecraft icon should be a label saying “Install.” Click that and the flatpack version of Minecraft will install itself.

Now all that’s left to do is hit the Steam icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen (the blue circle surrounded by white), head applications, and select the Minecraft app. Minecraft will now load directly into the launcher.

Step 3: Understanding the Minecraft Launcher on Steam Deck

Image showing the Minecraft Launcher on Steam Deck

The Minecraft launcher has a lot of different things going on. If I’m being honest, you can ignore about 90 percent of it. That other 10 percent, though, is well worth understanding.

  1. Installation: This is where you can install the most current and older versions of Minecraft
  2. Skins: This is the place to equip skins, and any Java version skins used on PC will be automatically imported
  3. Play: Once you’ve got your version of Minecraft installed, just hit “Play” and the launcher will do the rest of the work
  4. Version Changer: Once you’ve got multiple versions installed, just click that button to change to different installations

You may have noticed underneath Minecraft: Java Edition are two other game tabs. At the moment, Minecraft for Windows and Minecraft Dungeons are unsupported, though that could change in the future. It’s a shame, but them’s the brakes.

How to Install Minecraft Resource Packs on Steam Deck

Steam Deck desktop, showing the location of the resource folder

Installing Minecraft on Steam Deck is easy. Installing resources, however, requires a little bit of digging. It’s still manageable, but there are a few extra steps to finding where Minecraft has installed itself on the Steam Deck.

Download the resource pack you’re after from your favorite website. By default, the downloaded file should be located in the “downloads” folder.

To access it, click on the folder icon along the bottom of the screen or head into the Steam menu and find the Dolphin file explorer.

Once that’s found, click it with the left touchpad and select “cut.” This will copy the file and allow us to move it to the right folder.

Next we need to make sure hidden files and folders can be viewed. Near the top-right corner is the burger icon – or “three lines” as it’s actually known. Hit that, and make sure “show hidden files” is turned on.

Upon activating that, a bunch of greyed-out folders will be added to the file explorer.

What we’re looking for now is the “.var” folder located in the “Home” folder.

From here it’s just a case of navigating through the following path below, then when you find the resource folder, opening it and hitting that left touchpad to select “paste”.

Full Path: Home/.var/app/com.mojang.minecraft

The One Downside of Using this Launcher

While the native Minecraft launch works great and is easy to set up, the big downside is you’ll need to enter your details every single time you load it. That’s irritating but once it’s done you don’t need to do it again until you close the game.

I’m inthe process of figuring out a workaround, though, so stay tuned. I’ll be sure to update once I’ve found a way to store the login info natively.

Update: I’ve found one, check it out below.

Alternative Option: Prism Launcher

I’ve been testing out Prism Launcher for the last few months and it’s a much better alternative, especially for those looking to easily mod Minecraft on the Steam Deck. 

The installation process is the same as the Minecraft Launcher outlined above. Head into the Discover Store, then search for “Prism Launcher”. 

You’ll then see the app along with an install button. Hit that, and Prism Launcher will install. Simple or what?

What About PolyMC?

PolyMC is brilliant, but there are reports it may be worth not installing that app for a while. Once that changes, I’ll be sure to have a guide up and running for how to install it.

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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.