The Steam Deck can do a great many things beyond playing games from your Steam library, but did you know you can connect a mouse and keyboard to it for use in Desktop mode? If you didn’t, well, you can. You might be wondering how you do such a thing or how you even put the Steam Deck into Desktop Mode.
If these are things you’re trying to figure out how to do, not to worry. This handy guide will walk you through the steps to connect a mouse and keyboard to your Steam Deck and put the Steam Deck into Desktop Mode. Additionally, we’ll talk about some reasons why Desktop Mode is useful and what you might need or want it for. Though, there are tons of uses for it, so we aren’t going to cover all of them. Just some more common ones that are likely to get tons of use.
You can also connect Bluetooth devices to the Steam Deck in Gaming Mode. Which this guide will also cover. With that said, let’s jump in. That way you’ll be ready to use these features once you have your own Steam Deck in-hand. If you don’t already.
Why Connect A Mouse & Keyboard To Your Steam Deck?
Connecting your mouse and keyboard to your Steam Deck isn’t a terribly difficult process.
Before we get to that though, let’s talk about why you would want to connect Bluetooth devices and put your Steam Deck into Desktop Mode. The most obvious reason is perhaps because you can then use the Steam Deck like a traditional PC. Because, well, it is a PC. It just comes in a different formfactor. It runs on Linux, and in this mode everything actually does look like a desktop. With proper desktop icons, a toolbar and more.
You can use this mode to access the browser if you simply feel like browsing the web. Or you can use it to launch the terminal for a number of reasons. You’ll also use Desktop Mode for access to various applications that you’ll need to get a few other things running in Gaming Mode. Such as the Xbox Game Pass app for cloud gaming, and any number of available emulators.
The point is there’s a lot you can do with Desktop Mode on your Steam Deck so you’re going to want to check it out.
How To Put your Steam Deck into Desktop Mode
To get your Steam Deck into Desktop mode, all you have to do is hit the Steam button on the left side of the handheld. Upon doing this, an options window pops up from the left side and if you scan through the options, you’ll see an option for Power.
Use the d-pad, thumb sticks, or touch pad to scroll down to the power option and click it. This will give you options for putting the Steam Deck to sleep, shutting it down, restarting it, and switching to Desktop. Select Switch to Desktop and you’re good to go.
How To Connect Your Mouse & Keyboard To Your Steam Deck
Now that you’re in Desktop Mode, it’s time to connect your peripherals. You don’t need to use these accessories with your Steam Deck. As all of the inputs work perfectly fine for navigating Desktop Mode as they are. Trust us, the Steam Deck is more than equipped to handle it.
However, navigating around in Desktop Mode is way easier with a mouse and keyboard. Even if you don’t plan on staying in Desktop Mode for a long period of time, using a mouse and keyboard will make whatever short task you’re trying to complete that much simpler to deal with. And it may even be faster. We found it a little cumbersome and more time consuming than we would have liked to setup the Xbox Game Pass app by using the touch pads and virtual keyboard.
If you look across the bottom of the desktop you’ll see the toolbar. All the way on the right side of the toolbar you should see a bunch of icons. One will be for Bluetooth. Click that and the Bluetooth options window pops up. Now, if this is your first time connecting a Bluetooth device to your Steam Deck, you won’t see any names in here. So you’ll need to find something for the Steam Deck to add.
Put your mouse and keyboard into Pairing Mode
As soon as you click on Add New Device, the Steam Deck will begin searching for Bluetooth accessories. So now is the time to put your mouse and keyboard into pairing mode. You will need to do this one at a time, though. So for the purposes of this guide, we’ll just be referring to the mouse.
Select your mouse from the list
Now that the list has been populated, find your mouse and click on that using the right touch pad to select it. This will start the pairing process and you should have to confirm a connection. Confirm it, then give it a few seconds and everything should be good to go. Repeat this process of adding a device for the keyboard.
Once done you’re ready to use Desktop Mode like you would a normal PC. Naturally, this isn’t exactly a viable option if you’re using the Steam Deck without a flat surface to place your peripherals on. But for those times when you do, this makes using Desktop Mode easier.
Connecting A Mouse & Keyboard In Gaming Mode
If you want to connect a mouse and keyboard while in Gaming Mode, this is possible to do. Though you’ll only want to do this if you plan to play games using these peripherals. Which is possible as well since the Steam Deck can be hooked up to an external display.
Tap the three dot menu button
To connect a mouse and keyboard to your Steam Deck in Gaming Mode, first tap the three dot button on the right side. This will bring up a number of system options and settings.
Select Quick Settings
Scroll down to the Quick Settings menu which looks like the little cog. Then scroll to the right to highlight the quick settings options
Scroll down to Bluetooth
Now, scroll down to Bluetooth under the other section. Click this option to toggle Bluetooth on. Now back out and go to the home screen or simply hit the Steam button.
Hit the Steam button
Now with the Steam options menu open, scroll down to settings and click it.
Select Bluetooth and add a new device
Scroll down to Bluetooth, click it to move over to the Bluetooth options, then scroll down to the available to pair device list, then find and select any devices you want to pair. Just like in Desktop Mode you need to do this for each device. Which can include keyboards, mice, and headsets.