How to Edit Videos on a Steam Deck


The Steam Deck is a great gaming device, but it’s also a full-fledged personal computer. For many of us, it may be the most powerful PC in our house. With a powerful APU meant for pushing intense graphics, the machine is also capable of rendering video at speeds that can best what many of us experience on devices with Intel-integrated graphics.

So if a Steam Deck is potentially your best video-editing machine, here’s how to get set up.

Step 1: Switch to Desktop Mode

Switch to desktop mode on Steam Deck

You first need to transform your game console into a computer. If you aren’t already familiar with how this works, the process is pretty painless. If you hold down the Steam Deck’s power button, a menu will appear with the option to Switch to Desktop.

When you select this option, your computer will reboot. By default, the desktop will appear on your Steam Deck’s screen. You can navigate this most easily using the Deck’s built-in touchpads underneath the joysticks, though you may need to wait a few moments for them to activate.

“Left-click” by pressing the right trigger and “right-click” by pressing the left. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the logic is that the dominant finger activates the dominant form of clicking.

While 1280×800 is a usable resolution, the Steam Deck’s screen is a cramped space to do any real video editing on, so you may want to spring for a dock.

You can buy the official one from Valve or use a third-party USB-C dock you might already have lying around. Then you can connect the Steam Deck to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. At this point, using the Steam Deck becomes akin to using any other desktop PC.

Steam Deck Docking Station

Step 2: Make Sure You Have Enough Storage Space

Next, you’re going to want to make sure you have enough storage space. Video files can be rather large. You need enough space for the files you wish to edit, the size of the completed files, and the amount of space taken up by the rendering process itself.

256GB or 512GB Deck

Since storage space is a concern, the 64GB Steam Deck isn’t the ideal option. 64GB fills up quickly, especially if you’re also using your Deck to play games. Some newer titles can take up the entirety of that space on their own.

The 256GB and 512GB Steam Decks also have another advantage. Both come with faster NVMe drives, with the 512GB’s drive offering faster speeds than the 256GB model’s.

The 64GB Steam Deck uses slower eMMC storage. You might not mind the occasionally longer load time in a game, but storage speeds become more noticeable when rendering and transferring large files.

Get a microSD Card

Fortunately, your internal storage is only part of the picture. Regardless of which Steam Deck model you own, you have the option to increase your storage space with a microSD card. Buying a 256GB card is much cheaper than paying the extra for the 256GB Steam Deck if you’re looking to stretch your money.

Alternatively, you can put a 1TB card in and enjoy having oodles of room to work with. Though when it comes to producing video, even 1TB can start to feel restrictive after a while.

External SSD via a Dock

A microSD card is cheap and affordable, but it’s not the most reliable form of data storage. If you don’t need to take your files with you, you may want to spring for an external hard drive instead. Just plug one into your dock and mount it whenever you’re ready to get to work.

This option removes any concern over storage space. You can plug in an 8TB drive and render video until your heart’s content.

Replace the Steam Deck’s Internal Memory

Technically, you can also replace the internal SSD drive that came with the Steam Deck. If you can pry your Deck open, it’s not that hard to do. The keyword in that sentence is “if.” Prying the Deck open without damaging it is the risky part.

Step 3: Install Kdenlive (the Best Option for Most)

Discover app store displaying Kdenlive on SteamOS

Now that you’re in Desktop Mode and you have ample storage to work with, it’s time to install a video editor. Most of the options you’re familiar with from Windows or macOS probably won’t be available for the Steam Deck.

It comes with SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system. Specifically, you’re using the KDE Plasma desktop. The most capable and well-known video editor for KDE Plasma is Kdenlive.

You can find Kdenlive inside the app store that comes with the Steam Deck, known as Discover. This isn’t a special program that Valve designed. Instead, Discover is the KDE app for finding new apps, add-ons, and more. It’s also how you remove the stuff you’ve already installed.

Once installed, if you’ve used a video editor before, you can probably figure out your way around Kdenlive. Every video editor has its own workflow, but many of the fundamentals are the same.

Editing a video using Kdenlive on SteamOS

Are Other Video Editors Available?

If you don’t already have your hands on a Steam Deck, or you don’t have yours nearby, you can check which apps are available for the Deck by checking Flathub. Flathub is a website that distributes Linux apps in the Flatpak format, which the Steam Deck utilizes. This software is available for any Linux desktop, not just the Deck.

Here is a list of some of the other open-source video editors available:

They’re joined by other video-related tools, such as HandBrake for transcoding video from one format to another and OBS Studio for screen casting.

A few top-notch, proprietary video editors are also available for Linux, such as DaVinci Resolve and Lightworks, but you may have a difficult time using them on your Steam Deck since they’re not available in the Flatpak format.

You can also use any video editor that’s available in a web browser, since Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge are all available on SteamOS.

The Steam Deck Isn’t Just for Gaming

Should you go out and buy a Steam Deck to edit videos? Probably not. But if you already have one, you may find it’s the best tool in your house for the job. And if you’re looking for one more reason to buy one, here is another way you could put that potential splurge to good use.

If you find that you feel at home with the Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode, you can consider installing the KDE Plasma desktop on your PC. Doing so will give you the freedom to use a wider range of software than SteamOS allows.


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