The latest update to SteamVR, version 1.19.7, adds a great new feature which lets you float desktop or application windows inside of your VR games so that they’re always in view.

Update (August 20th, 2021): After releasing the new floating desktop windows feature in beta earlier this month, Valve has released the feature to all users in SteamVR version 1.19.7. The update also includes a handful of smaller changes previously found in previous beta versions. Check out the complete update notes here.

The original article, which explained the floating window feature in its beta form, continues below.

Original Article (August 6th, 2021): Valve has been expanding the virtual desktop functionality of SteamVR in recent months. Earlier this year they added the ability to open specific application windows (rather than your entire desktop) and even dock them to your controller so that they would always be visible inside of your VR game.

The latest beta update, SteamVR 1.19.6, goes one step further and gives you the ability to float desktop windows anywhere around you while making them persistently visible during the game. This has been available for a long time with the Oculus PC software, and it’s great to see it finally coming to SteamVR too.

It’s easy to imagine where this might come in handy. For one, you could easily float your Discord window inside your game to keep an eye on who’s hanging out in voice channels or sending you messages. Similarly, Twitch streamers could float their stream’s chat or stream dashboard to keep a tab on what’s going on. Or if you’re pulling a long-haul flight in Elite Dangerous you could easily stick a window on your ship’s dashboard to watch some YouTube while you’re shuttling between star systems.

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The beta also adjusts SteamVR’s virtual desktop UI so that you see more of your application window icons without needing to scroll.

In the latest version it’s easy to switch between docking a window to your controller or just letting it float. If it’s attached to your controller you can grab the move button and ‘tear’ it off the controller to float anywhere. You can do the same to reattach it to your controller.

When you have the SteamVR menu open you can interact with the windows like you’d expect by using your controller as the mouse pointer (though we’d love to see a keyboard button nearby each window in case there’s a need to enter text). Once you close the SteamVR menu, any floating windows become ‘view only’ so that you don’t accidentally click something while you’re playing.

Captured by Road to VR

As with most SteamVR beta updates, this will eventually be released to everyone. If you want to check it out today you can do so easily by opting into the SteamVR beta yourself:

Opt into SteamVR Beta
  • In your Steam games list, right-click on SteamVR > Properties > Select the ‘Betas’ tab
  • In the drop down list, select ‘SteamVR Beta Update’
  • Allow SteamVR to update

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  • Ad

    Now they need to replace the keyboard. The one in desktop+ is great. It’s important both for other languages, and so users can alt tab out of apps that for some reason take up the fullscreen even though they’re in VR.

    • CIR

      Agreed, that would be awesome to stick them to chaperon bounds.

  • Nice feature

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  • Cless

    Nice!

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  • Lulu Vi Britannia

    Cool. Except we’ve been able to do that for years.

    • Rosko

      Not in steam vr.

      • Lulu Vi Britannia

        We could too, with OVRTool.

  • Wild Dog

    They finally did it and just said fuck it. OVR is no longer relevant.

    • Blaexe

      So when Valve introduces a feature that makes a third party app irrelevant nobody cares. If facebook does it? Big outrage.

      I think it’s perfectly fine for a platform owner to introduce fundamental features, but the different reaction by the community is funny.

      • Rosko

        What did Facebook introduce that caused 3rd party app irrelevance & thus outrage from community? I’ve not followed what Facebook/Oculus are doing these days apart from the unavoidable headlines I see regarding advertising.

        • Blaexe

          Oculus Move and AirLink to name two.

          • Rosko

            I’m struggling to find a ‘big outrage’ on here about Oculus Move & AirLink.

          • Wild Dog

            I thought the facebook outrage was about the exclusive games.

          • Chris Blackburn

            the outrage over airlink was like less than a week because Virtual Desktop updated and was better than it again

          • ViRGiN

            And now horizon workspace is “ripping of” other “productivity” app

        • Chris Riashi

          Part of the the outrage was that FB banned Virtual Desktop game streaming and required a side load for that functionality. They then released the feature themselves.

  • ViRGiN

    oh WOW. when will i finally be able to use SteamVR tech without obsolete Steam account?

    • Cless

      What is obsolete about having a Steam account? Also… Its called “SteamVR” its kind of in the name dude.

  • Nothing to see here

    Handy for when Microsoft Flight simulator pops up a window that you can’t see when wearing your VR headset. Now if Steam could fix the other Microsoft created problem of requiring the user to type on the keyboard when they can’t see the keyboard or their hands while wearing a VR headset.
    It is clear why Microsoft does not support VR on the XBox. They simply don’t know how to write a VR user interface.

  • Henryalbert

    I really live this features
    Henry albert