Valve has released Steam Big Picture Mode, which provides PC gamers with a new, elegant TV-tailored experience of Steam. The problem is Big Picture Mode is currently only in open beta testing, and finding out how to opt into the beta can be tricky. Detailed below are steps to help you get Steam's new Big Picture Mode running smoothly on your big-screen TV.
Opt Into Steam's Big Picture Mode
The first thing you'll want to do upon booting up Steam is to click on the "Steam" dropdown menu at the upper left and then select "Settings."
A menu will pop up. From here, under the "Beta Participation" section, click the "CHANGE…" button.
Another pop-up menu will appear and then in the Beta participation drop-down menu, select "Steam Beta Update." Steam will then ask you to restart the program. Do so. Steam will then take a couple of seconds to update.
Once Steam reloads, you'll notice a new "Big Picture" icon at the upper right-hand corner. Click it.
After a brief intro animation, you'll be in Steam's Big Picture Mode.
You'll find that Steam Big Picture mode comfortably allows you to navigate its interface from the confines of your relatively distant couch or bed with the assistance of your favorite game controller. While you can certainly use a keyboard and mouse, we can tell Valve spent a lot of time tailoring the experience for USB-powered Xbox 360 controllers.
Now that you've gotten into the Steam Big Screen beta, you might be wondering how you get this new interface onto your HDTV.
Set Your HDTV to Your Primary Screen
If your HDTV is connected to your PC via HDMI, doing this is really easy. On Windows 7, simply right-mouse click anywhere on an empty portion of desktop then click "Screen resolution." From here, select your TV and click on the "Make this my main display" checkbox. Select "OK." Now your nice, big screen TV will be your primary monitor (you can always switch back when you're done using Steam's Big Picture Mode).
Switch to Your TV's Audio
Before you boot up Steam, you'll similarly want to enable your TV to play your PC's audio. To do this in Windows 7, right-mouse click on the speaker icon on the lower-right hand corner of your desktop > select "Playback devices" > choose your TV's speakers > press the "Set Default" button > Press "OK."
Voila! Now your TV is configured to take full advantage of Steam's new Big Picture Mode.