The Easiest Way to Transfer Files on Steam Deck: KDE Connect
The Steam Deck is a phenomenal gaming console, but it’s more than that. It’s a full-fledged PC. You can switch to Desktop Mode on the go or drop your machine in a dock and treat it like a desktop. Either way, there comes a point when you will probably want to transfer files to your Deck.
The Steam Deck doesn’t have a full-size USB port for many USB drives, though it does have a USB-C connection. But the easiest approach is to use a feature that comes pre-installed with SteamOS known as KDE Connect.
What Is KDE Connect?
KDE Connect is a set of software from the KDE community to enable all of your devices to communicate with one another. It’s a way to check phone messages from your desktop, control music on your phone from your PC’s system tray, use your phone as a remote to control your computer during a presentation, and more.
KDE Connect is a part of your desktop environment if you use KDE Plasma. On other desktops, it may function more as an app or an extension. On mobile devices, it’s an app.
If you’re immersed in the Apple ecosystem, you may marvel at how well your devices integrate. While KDE Connect isn’t quite as seamless, it’s a great free alternative available for a much larger range of devices, including PCs that run Windows.
Plus, KDE Connect is also available for Apple devices, so they can wirelessly integrate with non-Apple hardware as well. But the experience feels most at home on devices that run Linux, like the Steam Deck.
What Can You Share With KDE Connect?
You can sync anything with your Steam Deck using KDE Connect that you would be able to on any other PC. This means you can read phone messages on your Deck and send responses, or you can browse your phone’s filesystem remotely. You can also connect to other PCs on your network and browse their filesystems.
The experience of browsing remote filesystems can be hit or miss. It’s faster to send over the exact files you want between the devices, as you would with Apple AirDrop. Just install KDE Connect on both devices and connect them to the same network.
There isn’t a limitation to the type of file you can send. So if you want to share game folders, wallpapers, music, videos, or documents, you’re good to go.
How to Get Started With KDE Connect on a Steam Deck
To use KDE Connect, first, switch to Desktop Mode by holding down the power button and selecting the Switch to Desktop option.
Once your device has rebooted, click on the Steam icon in the bottom-left to open the application launcher. You can find KDE Connect among the available apps. A search bar is available to help you find it.
Here you can activate KDE Connect on your Steam Deck, but to go any further, you will need to also install KDE Connect on a second device. This can be your personal computer or mobile phone. Or it can even be another Steam Deck.
Once you have two devices running KDE Connect, you can pair them. They will likely detect one another automatically if they are running on the same network.
You can pair devices within the KDE Connect app, but there happens to be a quicker way to access your list of devices. Click on the KDE Connect icon in the system tray in the bottom-right corner. Here you can activate a number of KDE Connect features, such as ringing your device or taking a photo remotely. You can also send files from here.
If you don’t see the KDE Connect icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen, click the Up arrow at the right-most edge of the system tray. The “Status and Notifications” menu will pop up, with KDE Connect being one of the indicators you can pick from.
There is an even faster way to send files than using the system tray icon. Simply open your file manager, right-click on a file, and select Share > Send to Device.
Why KDE Connect and the Steam Deck Are an Ideal Fit
KDE Connect may not come from Valve, but the software is great for Steam Deck owners. Here’s why:
1. The Steam Deck Comes With KDE Plasma
It comes as no surprise that KDE Connect and KDE Plasma are a good match. The KDE team developed KDE Connect for KDE Plasma initially, before expanding to other desktop environments and operating systems. Since the Steam Deck comes with KDE Plasma, the device ships with a top-notch KDE Connect experience.
2. KDE Connect Is Pre-Installed
KDE Connect is available out of the box. Okay, not technically out of the box, if your Deck comes with a version of SteamOS older than 3.4. In that case, download system updates before looking for KDE Connect. But as long as you have the latest version, KDE Connect is a built-in way to share files.
3. You Can Maximize Storage Space for Games
You may not want to stockpile large amounts of files on your Deck, especially if you have the 64GB model. In that case, it’s convenient to only send data over to your Deck when you need it. KDE Connect makes this simple.
4. You Don’t Have to Fuss With Cables and Drives
Cables are a reliable way to transfer data, but they take up additional space in your bag or on your desk. Plus USB-C flash drives and external SSDs are one more thing you might accidentally leave behind. KDE Connect lets you get data to and from your Deck even if you left everything else at home.
5. You Don’t Need to Worry if Your Syncing App Supports SteamOS
You may use a cloud storage provider to share files from one device to another, but that service may not have an app that supports Linux. There’s a good chance you can browse the service’s website to download the files that way, but that involves installing a web browser to your Deck and, if you’re not docked, navigating that browser on a small screen.
Is Your Steam Deck Connected?
The Steam Deck is a remarkably easy device to get your data onto. Out of the box, it already syncs with your Steam account, downloading games and saving data. With KDE Connect, you can transfer over much of what Steam doesn’t do for you. You’re free to wirelessly share whichever files you wish.
It’s possible to install another operating system on a Steam Deck, but people usually prefer to stick with SteamOS on their Deck.