Accessing the desktop mode on the Steam Deck is a simple process that allows you to use applications like web browsers and access the device's file system. It is also necessary if you want to install Battle.net on the Steam Deck or other storefronts. Whether you want to take a break from playing games or do some tinkering, it's important for every Steam Deck owner to know how to access the desktop mode.
To access Steam Deck Desktop mode, press and hold the power button located at the top right-hand side of the handheld next to the R1 and R2 trigger buttons. Keep holding it until the ‘Power' menu appears. From the menu, select ‘Switch to Desktop'. The Steam Deck will then reboot into a desktop interface with a toolbar, desktop icons, and wallpaper.
Alternatively, you can press the ‘Steam' button on the Valve handheld, scroll down and select ‘Power', and then choose ‘Switch to Desktop'. Although this method involves more steps, it avoids the risk of accidentally resetting or turning off the Steam Deck by holding down the power button for too long.
In Desktop mode, if you own one of the best Steam Deck docks, you can connect a gaming mouse and keyboard via USB. This makes it easier to navigate the Steam Deck's file system. However, you can also use the Steam Deck keyboard in desktop mode.
To switch back to ‘Gaming Mode', use the shortcut icon on the Steam Deck desktop. You can select it using the right analog stick, touchpad, or touch screen. After a short period, you'll be back in the familiar Big Picture UI.
If you want to explore more ways to enhance your gaming experience on the Steam Deck, check out our list of the best Steam Deck accessories.