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Looking for ways to enhance your Steam Deck experience? Plugins are a great way of doing it! Currently, there are two popular ways to get plugins, with the most popular being the Deck Plugin Loader. This creates a framework which allows other plugins that can be integrated into the Steam Deck game mode. Unfortunately, this does require giving the program root access, which in itself isn't hard, but an extra step. But there is another option!

Crankshaft, made by coolavery, is an alternative to that, but with some added benefits, like a significantly nicer user interface and some pretty amazing plugins to start off like a ProtonDB integration and even a way to download new Proton GE versions from game mode!

Enabling Developer Mode

Before doing this, you do have to enable developer mode and CEF Debugging, both of which are easy to do. First, go into your System settings and scroll down until you see the enable developer mode button and turn that on.

Steam Deck Dev Mode

Then, once that's done, scroll down in your settings to the Developer tab and turn on CEF Remote Debugging.

Steam Deck CEF Debugging Enable

Now all you have to do is go to Desktop mode to actually get the program!

Installing Crankshaft

You can get Crankshaft easily by going to the Discover store and searching "Crank". Should be the first option that pops up.

Crankshaft Discover Store

Then, start it from your application list. Once you see the little Crankshaft icon in the bottom right, you are good to go! Hop back into game mode and it is installed! Now we can start configuring Crankshaft and getting the plugins.

Configuring Crankshaft and Getting Plugins

Once back into gaming mode, press your "Steam" button and, if done correctly, you will notice some new options!

Crankshaft Plugin Enabled

You won't need to do much in the settings tab for Crankshaft, but if you need to do a quick restart due to plugins not loading, that's where you would find a restart button! Otherwise, I would first head over to the "Get Plugins" option and start getting some fantastic ones!

Crankshaft Get Plugins

I personally recommend Compatibility Tools Manager and ProtonDB Indicator to start out. ProtonDB Indicator will add a ProtonDB rating at the top of each Steam game and, if tapped, will take you right to their page!

Crankshaft ProtonDB

It is a nice tool to just quickly check things. Now, Compatibility Tools Manager will actually allow you to install Proton GE versions from Game Mode! All you have to do is go over to the available versions box, click install on whichever you want, and it is now installed! That's it! To have it show up in Steam, you do need to restart your Steam client. Just hit the Steam button, scroll down to power, and click "Restart Steam Client". As of right now, there is no way to delete the older Proton GE versions, so keeping and using ProtonUp-QT is needed. You can check how to get ProtonUp-QT from our Proton GE guide!

Crankshaft Compatibility Tools Manager

The rest is up to you now! There are some enticing other plugins to check out, just be wary! Make sure to research the plugins before using them. Anyone can make them and you want to be 100% sure it is trustworthy.

Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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