The Steam Chat feature isn’t quite the Discord challenger Valve wanted, but it is much better than it used to be. One question that still pops up regularly is whether you can message someone on Steam that’s not on your friend list. In chat, you have to be a friend to be able to message.
Unless you’re in a group with the person, you cannot message them. You could leave a comment on their profile page, but that only works if the profile is public. If it’s set to friends only, you won’t be able to communicate there either.
This question often comes up when Steam users have beta codes or discount vouchers, and they offer them on the platform. To be able to ask for one of these, you either have to reply in their forum post or contact them directly. As most of us who have tried getting one of these codes know, posting on the forum is usually way too slow to get any code. It is much better to contact the player directly and ask them very sweetly if they could pick you.
Send a message to non-friends on Steam
Messaging Steam players that are not on your “Friends List” is very difficult to do and almost nonexistent. One way to message a non-friend is to join a group that they are a member of and talk to them there. In the example above, if they were offering discount codes to Tropico 6, you could join a Tropico 6 chat group and look for the person there. The same scenario applies to any game on the platform.
One other exception to the non-friend rule is certain games that allow messaging to anyone through the server, such as Valve’s CSGO.
Be careful when using group chat features. If you have used group chat, you likely have experienced random messages from people who are not your friends. These are usually spammers or gold farmers trying to sell you in-game currency or items. If you use the game chat method to send messages, be prepared to get ignored, especially since they probably get more of those spam messages than you do.
What can you do on Steam Chat?
While you cannot send a message on Steam to someone who’s not your friend, you can do a lot of other things with the new system. Here are a few of the new features of the system that you may like to try.
“Categories” is the new Tags system, and it is a way to manage chat with friends more effectively. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large number of friends that use Steam, it makes it worth the time to categorize your list. You can split them into games or more broad categories like friends, family, and more.
You can add multiple friends to multiple game categories and generally sort your chats into a more manageable format.
“Favorites” is a similar steam organizational tool where you can make certain friends your favorites. So, if you have a group and you’re all playing a new release, you can add them to favorites to make them easier to find. Drag and drop their chat profile into the “Favorites” bar to add them.
To remove someone from “Favorites,” right-click their profile and select Manage, and then click “Remove from Favorites.”
The aforementioned “Group Chat” tool is a handy feature that lets you set up groups for games, either for playing together or just chatting about the game. You don’t necessarily have to chat about the games, but that’s their intent. You can select “Create a New Chat,” give it a name and add friends to it.
You can also send invites to other players who play the game. They don’t have to be on your friend list to be able to join.
You have always been able to use Steam and appear offline, but now, you can also have a chat while in “Invisible Mode.” This setup works much the same as before and gives you some alone time while playing a game. If you don’t have the time or energy to chat with friends or just want a secret session on your own before you “group up,” then invisibility is yours to claim.
Either way, you can use “Invisible Mode” by selecting your username from the top left of the chat window and selecting “Invisible.”
It is both a “crying shame” and good that you cannot send a message on Steam to someone who’s not your friend. While it does get in the way at times, it protects the community from many spammers, gold farmers, and generally toxic teenagers that use the platform. This scenario might mean that you lose out on an access code or two, but it also means you don’t have to put up with a ton of spam comments!
As previously mentioned, some games such as CSGO by Valve offer in-game messaging to non-friends on the server. Some games may add downloadable content (DLC) that adds a messaging feature to the server. Therefore, it is not entirely accurate to say that you cannot message non-friends in Steam.
Speaking of DLC, check out what to do if your purchased DLC in Steam doesn’t install  as it should.