Steam ‘Big Picture’ feature emerges from beta; play Mac games on your TV

Valve today update its Steam software for OS X and Windows to officially support a new feature called “Big Picture.” It’s been available as a broadly released public beta, but this marks the feature’s official support in the release client. It’s automatically updated the next time you log on to Steam.

“Big Picture” enables you to go full screen for Steam. It’s more than just hitting the maximize button, though. The popular gaming client is completely reformatted in Big Picture mode, making Steam more friendly than ever if you use a Mac (or PC) as a media center connected to a television. Menus and games can be controlled using a game controller peripheral in addition to keyboard and mouse.

Other features include an integrated Web browser and a special typing mode that lets you use the buttons on your game controller instead of a keyboard, if you don’t want to take your hands off your gamepad.

Big Picture works even if you don’t have your Mac connected to a TV set; it just makes Steam occupy the entire screen. But if you’re using a Mac with a set attached, you’re bound to see things more the way the designers intended.

Steam is celebrating the release with sales on Big Picture-compatible games. Mac support is still pretty scant, though you’re in luck if you’re playing Portal 2, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, or one of several indie Mac game titles available through Steam.