Team Fortress 2

How to TEXT Idle TF2 with a batch file

If you want to text idle, the following is a step-by-step guide to doing so. First let’s go through creating your text idle shortcut:
  1. Highlight the following code with your mouse. Right click on the highlighted text and on the resulting menu click on Copy.
    C:"Program Files"Steamsteam.exe -applaunch 440 -textmode -nosound -nopix -novid -nopreload -nojoy -sw -w 640 -h 480 +map itemtest
  2. Open Notepad and paste that text into the edit window.
  3. Click on the File menu. On the resulting menu click on Save As.
  4. In the Save As box that comes up you will see *.txt highlighted in the File Name box near the bottom. Simply start typing idle.bat and it will overwrite what was there.
  5. In most cases Desktop will be selected for the location to save. Use the side bar to select where you want to save this file. Keep in mind this is the file you will need to run to text idle so put it somewhere easy to find such as the Desktop.
  6. Click Save.
Whenever you want to text idle:
  1. Make sure you are logged into Steam and simply run the idle.bat file you created by double-clicking on it. Note that some systems are set up to run files with a single click—be careful not to run the file twice as this will cause errors.
  2. A command window will flash up on the screen and then you will see the typical “Preparing to launch Team Fortress 2″ screen but instead of the game launching you should get another command window that will come up. It will go through some technical jargon and there will be some errors that go by, but wait it out. It should eventually come to the point where it says Username connected (Username being your current Steam Profile Name)
  3. Eat cake, walk away, or anything else because that is all you have to do. Let this run for however many hours a week you want to text idle.
  4. When you are done idling, use the X in the top right of the window to close your text idling session.
  5. Launch TF2 as normal to receive your drops.


Been working on this for a few months now. Started off as a [1] command line tool to streamline the process of starting up TF2 idling accounts which then evolved into a GUI tool because I wanted to learn how to write a GUI program in Python.
TF2Idle is an open source GUI for managing idle accounts in TF2. What it is is a fancier way of starting up TF2 accounts in sandboxes with arguments. It is nothing more complicated than using .bat files. For idling on multiple accounts at the same time it requires [2] Sandboxie. What it is not is a tool that modifies or circumvents the game or Steam in any way.
It can handle many accounts, it can handle sandboxes (terminating, emptying and experimental support for automatically creating and deleting them on the fly) and it can log item drops in an easy to use interface.

You can find the source code [4] here and a precompiled exe can be found on the [5] downloads page.
Hopefully the program is self explanatory but I will be expanding the readme soon. I will be also adding more features in the coming weeks. If you use it please let me know of any bugs/criticisms/problems.
  • Any plans for an Mac version?
    Unlikely I’m afraid. Sandboxie doesn’t work on OSX afaik and I am not familiar with the OS at all so I wouldn’t know how to start the game and such. The program will work in OSX though as Python is platform compatible, but a lot of the code will need to be rewritten.
  • How do I get an API key?
    Visit [6] and read the terms and conditions before signing up.
  • I get an error when trying to launch TF2 through the program
    Make sure you have correctly entered the relevant paths to Steam.exe and the like correctly in settings.
Version history
Version 1.3.0
  • Added option to launch any program sandboxed for each account
  • Added option to define per account launch parameters
  • Increased max account delay to 10 minutes
  • Drop log now shows crate series
  • Removed restriction on what filetype logs can be saved as
  • Added alphabetical ordering in groups dialog
  • Fixed bug with account launch delay where some accounts would fail to launch
  • Fixed Sandboxie errors when deleting the contents of too many sandboxes at once
Version 1.1.1
  • Fixed bug with saving drops to log file
  • Changed an icon
Version 1.1.0
  • Added option to add delay between account launches
  • Added option to modify drop log output file formatting
  • Tweaked update gcf icon
  • Added progress icons for gcf updating
  • Fixed bug with changing multiple account sandbox names
Version 1.0.0
  • Initial release

Team Fortress 2 Multiple Account Idle Program TF2Idle


TF2Idle is a convenient GUI interface for idling in Team Fortress 2. It does not modify game files or circumvent TF2. You will still need to run a TF2 instance for each copy of TF2 you wish to idle on.


Version history

Version 1.1.1

  • Fixed bug with saving drops to log file
  • Changed an icon

Version 1.1.0

  • Added option to add delay between account launches
  • Added option to modify drop log output file formatting
  • Tweaked update gcf icon
  • Added progress icons for gcf updating
  • Fixed bug with changing multiple account sandbox names

Version 1.0.0

  • Initial Release

Compiled exe

Download the exe from the downloads section.



  • Python 2.7 — Install the 32 bit version (x86)
You will also need to install the following modules.
  • PyQt4 — Install the 32 bit version (x86)
  • PyCrypto — For config file encryption


Run from commandline

API key

You can sign up for your own Steam API key from here. Please read through the terms and conditions before you do so.


Quick tl;dr on how to idle.


Folder structure

You’ll want a seperate Steam installation for each of your idle accounts (they’ll share a single steamapps folder, so don’t worry about disk space), you can do it with a single secondary Steam install – however some users may face errors doing this. Never use your main Steam install, else you risk corrupting your game files.
  • Copy the Steam folder (minus the steamapps folder) to somewhere else on the hard disk.
  • Create a folder inside the Steam folder for each account you have.
  • Copy the steamapps folder somewhere (Do not use your main Steam installation’s steamapps folder). You can delete all the non-TF2 related gcfs from this folder.
  • Open cmd.exe as an administrator, and for each idle account enter (using my directories as an example):mklink /d "G:/Sandboxie/Steam/Account1/Steamapps" "G:/Sandboxie/Steam/Steamapps" where the first parameter is the idle account’s Steam install, followed by /Steamapps, and the second parameter is your secondary steamapps folder (Again, not your main Steam installations steamapps).
You should now have a folder structure similar to:
  • This tricks programs into thinking the steamapps folder is present in each of those account folders.


The free version of Sandboxie limits you to one sandbox, meaning you can only run two instances of Steam at any one time (one unsandboxed and one sandboxed). To create more sandboxes you will require a license.
Create a sandbox for each of your folders, with whatever name you want to give them – I name mine the same as my folder names (so just Account1, Account2, Account3…).
For each sandbox right click on it and go to sandbox settings. You’ll want to set the settings as follows:
  • Restrictions -> Drop Rights -> Untick Drop rights from Administrators and Power Users groups
  • Resource Access -> File Access -> Full Access -> Add your idle accounts Steam folder, and your steamapps folder.
    • e.g. G:SandboxieSteamAccount1
    • G:SandboxieSteamSteamapps

First launch / what to do after every TF2 update

  • Run
  • Select ‘Update GCFs’ to copy the TF2 GCFs from your main Steamapps folder, to your secondary Steamapps folder
  • Select ‘Empty sandbox’ to delete any contents in each sandbox, this prevents errors.
  • Start Steam.exe from the secondary directory unsandboxed to make sure the GCFs are completely updated.
  • You are now ready to idle.

Borderless Fullscreen Team Fortress 2 Steam console arguments

Here’s a great tip that I’m generally surprised more people aren’t aware of! I know many of you, like me, absolutely love the full-screen-windowed mode on L4D, right? But, we thought it wasn’t possible in TF2 so we all either went Full Screen, or Windowed with a slightly lower resolution. I chose the latter, and always wished I could be full-screen-windowed.

Well, now you can! Here’s how:

  1. Right click on “Team Fortress 2” in your “My Games” list and choose Properties.
  2. Choose “Set Launch Options”
  3. Enter the following without the quotes: “-window -noborder -novid”
  4. Click ok, start up TF2, and set your TF2 window size to whatever your desktop is. In my case, it was 1680×1050
  5. That’s it, you’re done! Enjoy your full screen windowed TF2 where you can alt tab without lag! Additionally, when alt-tabbing out your start bar shows for ease of use!

For the record,

  • -novid isn’t related to this. It removes the intro video, which is useful.
  • -window makes it windowed, and
  • -noborder removes the window border.