How to Make Your Windows Gaming PC Automatically Boot to Big Picture Mode (Like a Steam Machine)

By Chris Hoffman on November 19th, 2015

Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.

You’ll probably want to do this with a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV so you can just power it on and use your controller without needing a keyboard or mouse.

Make Your Windows PC Log In Automatically

First, you’ll want to enable automatic login on your Windows 10 PC. This will ensure you won’t need a keyboard to type your password when you boot your PC — it’ll just boot right up and log in automatically.

We have cautioned against using automatic login for security reasons. When you enable automatic logins, your password will be stored in the Windows registry. For this reason, we recommend using a local user account. If you enable automatic logins for a Microsoft account, your Microsoft account password will be stored in the Windows registry — that’s not ideal from a security perspective. But, either way, that’s up to you.

When you have a user account you want to automatically log into, just press Windows Key + R to open the run dialog, type “netplwiz” into the box, and press Enter.

Select the user account you want to automatically sign in with in the list and uncheck the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” checkbox. Click “OK”.

Windows will ask you to enter the user account’s password so it can automatically log that user in.

Close the window and you’re done. Whenever your computer boots, Windows will automatically sign in with the user account you selected. If you want to switch to another user account, you can just log out and you’ll see the normal sign-in screen.

Have Steam Run at Login

Next, on that user account, launch Steam. If Steam asks you to sign in, enter your password and tell Steam to remember your password so you won’t have to sign in each time you boot up.

Click the “Steam” menu, select “Settings”, and click over to the “Interface” tab. Enable both the “Run Steam when my computer starts” and “Start Steam in Big Picture Mode” options.

You will see the Windows desktop appear when you boot. However, Steam will automatically launch and then take you to Big Picture Mode, so you won’t have to reach for a keyboard. You can use the Steam interface to launch games, browse the web, and chat with a controller.

To make your gaming PC boot faster and get to Big Picture Mode quicker, disable startup programs in the Task Manager.

If you want to leave Big Picture Mode, you can select the “Return to Desktop” option in the menu and get back to a Windows 10 desktop again.


The same trick will work on Mac OS X and Linux PCs running Steam, too. Just have your PC automatically log into your user account when it boots, have Steam launch at login, and have Steam launch in Big Picture Mode.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 11/19/15
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