Getting Started

Are you new to modding Skyrim or looking to get started modding on the right foot? Getting Started is for you! The items listed on this page are utilities and tools to let Skyrim mods have more features and work correctly. Also, Skyrim.ini and SkyrimPrefs.ini tweaks are discussed here.

Before you proceed complete the following steps:

  1. This guide assumes that you have a fresh install (no mods at all) of the Legendary version of Skyrim (all DLCs). If you do not have all the DLCs, you could most likely complete the rest of the guide with no issues.
  2. Know where your Skyrim installation is located. Usually this is something like:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim
  3. Next, if you just downloaded Skyrim, make sure you start the game first before modding. On the launcher, select the Ultra graphics setting, set the resolution, and turn off FXAA. Now, start the game. On the main menu screen, exit Skyrim. This is to make sure that Skyrim generates the Skyrim.ini and the SkyrimPrefs.ini files correctly. These are located by default here: C:\Users\%YOUR_USER_NAME%\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\
  4. Then, you will need to create a NexusMods Account. This website is where most Skyrim modders upload their mods. Making a NexusMods account is free, just don't choose a donation/support option (skip to the "Create Account" button at the bottom of the page). You can always donate later if you wish to support the site, and enjoy ad-free perks and such.

Skyrim Modding Tools and Utilities Listed Here:

Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE)

Next, you will need Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE). Download SKSE here After installing SKSE, you will start Skyrim by using skse_loader.exe. Again, you will NOT start Skyrim by launching it from Steam. Personally, I make a shortcut to skse_loader.exe then pin it to the Windows Start Menu.

You will know if SKSE is working properly if you have a SKSE message when you open the menu in Skyrim, as shown in this screenshot.

After you download SKSE and install SKSE, go to your /skyrim/Data/ folder. Create a new folder called "SKSE". Within this new folder, make a new file named skse.ini.

Then, open this file with Notepad and put in the following code:


Load Order Optimization Software (LOOT)

Description of LOOT from the LOOT download page:

Setting the right load order for your mods is a crucial step to enjoying a stable modded game. The Load Order Optimisation Tool (LOOT) can help with that, by providing automated load order sorting that's simple to use and fully customisable.

While sorting, LOOT checks for load order errors (such as incompatibilities and missing requirements) and notifies you of any issues that it detects. It also provides thousands of plugin-specific messages, such as usage notes and bug warnings, to help keep your game healthy.

Basically, you run LOOT to organize the load order of your mods so that your game won't crash. You should run LOOT after installing any mod. Also, make sure to read the mod descriptions to see if that particular mod should be loaded last/after another certain mod, because LOOT is not perfect.

If you've heard about BOSS, it is no longer being supported. LOOT is the successor to BOSS.

Nexus Mod Manager (NMM)

Now, to make mod installation easy, download Nexus Mod Manager (NMM). With NMM you can download mods with a click of a button from the Skyrim Nexus website, which makes installing and uninstalling mods very easy.

Wrye Bash

Download the "Installer" version of Wrye Bash. You will need to use Wrye Bash after you download the mods listed in The Essentials section.

Wrye Bash was a tool that is used mainly for modding Oblivion. You can still use it to be a mod installer/organizer of sorts for Skyrim still, but it's main feature we want to use is the Bashed Patch feature. With the Bashed Patch feature, we can merge the leveled lists of mods together. When different plugins alter the same leveled list, only the last loaded plugin's changes get applied. The leveled list patcher circumvents the issue by instead merging all the changes made to leveled lists and having this merged set of changes applied.

You should rebuild your Bashed Patch every time you change your load order. The Bashed Patch should also be last in the load order list unless you have plugins that explicitly state that they must be loaded last.

Steps to create a Bashed Patch with Wrye Bash (do this after completing the Essentials section):
  1. Run WryeBash.exe. On the Mods tab, select Bashed Patch, Skyrim.esp, then right-click and select Rebuild Patch.
  2. Check Import Names. Make sure that all the Unofficial patches are checked.
  3. Check Import Stats. Make sure that all the Unofficial patches are checked.
  4. If Tweaks is checked, uncheck it.
  5. Check Leveled Lists. The "Automatic" box should be checked, and you should see something like
    Update.esm [ADR]
    Unofficial Skyrim Patch.esp [ADR]
    Dawngaurd.esm [AD]
  6. Click Build Patch.
  7. You're done! Don't forget that you should rebuild your Bashed Patch every time your load order changes, like when you install or uninstall mods or run LOOT to sort the load order of your mods.


TES5Edit is a tool that I have not used a lot, but mod creators do use TES5Edit to remove bad data/record changes ("dirty edits") that were made by accident or to sometimes patch other mods together. More documentation is here:

You can use TES5Edit to remove the dirty edits that Bethesda left in Skyrim.esm, Dawnguard.esm, Dragonborn.esm, and Hearthfire.esm. You can also use TES5Edit to remove dirty edits in other mods you download, but in my experience TES5Edit is for more advanced users or mod makers. Therefore, don't worry too much about cleaning your .esm files.

Also, be aware that some mods require that they remain "dirty", as in the dirty edits are intentional to ensure the mod functions properly. Usually the mod's description page will tell you whether the dirty edits are intentional.

Skyrim.ini Tweaks

Edit Skrim.ini with a text editing program (like Notepad) with the following tweaks. Some tweaks are strongly recommended, others are optional. The text in brackets (eg:[General]) is that section's header. Do not create a section's header (eg: [General]) if it exists already.

The location of this file, by default, is this:
C:\Users\YOUR_USER_NAME\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\

Disable the intro video/logo splash. - Shave off a few seconds when Starting up Skyrim! Either delete the intro.bik video file in Skyrim's Skyrim/data/video folder, or you can do this .ini tweak in the [General] section.


Shadow Flicker - A viewer of mine told me about this great tweak. This tweak will fix shadow flickering caused by the sun when it updates its position.


Torch/Light Source Pop-In - Enable a higher distance for the drawing of torches/light sources. Default in the game is 1024, which is pretty close.


Bow/Crossbow Aim Fix - Align your arrows and bolts to aim towards the center of your targeting reticule


Disable all killcams - Tired of killcams or think they break immersion? Disable them with this tweak!


SkyrimPrefs.ini Tweaks

Change these the Skyrim.ini file with a text editing program (such as Notepad) to tweak certain settings. The text in brackets (eg [General]) is that section's header.

The location of this file, by default, is something like this:
C:\Users\YOUR_USER_NAME\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\

SkyrimPrefs.ini has parameters that control other configuration options in Skyrim. Much like editing Skyrim.ini in the section before, these tweaks are optional.

For ENB users only - bFloatPointRenderTarget - This tweak is required for ENBs to properly use floating point rendering which allows the enhanced graphical effects, such as SSAO, DoF and more. Setting this to 1 will cause a small performance hit.

Enable if using ENB

Shadow Map Resolution - Bit of a tweak to reduce the excessive iShadowMapResolution that is set to 4096 by the Ultra graphics setting. You hardly lose any shadow graphical quality, but gain a big increase in performance.

Strongly recommended, performance gain

Shadows Tweaks - Enable shadows that trees and land/rocks cast. Small performance hit, but increases graphical quality.

Optional, small performance hit

Disable Mouse Acceleration - Simply disables mouse acceleration.


Miscellaneous Information

Curious about what types of files (.esp. .bsa, .dds, etc) you're seeing/using? Check out

Bad performance?
Disable HD texture mods if your video card does not have much VRAM. Another thing to decrease are shadow settings and maybe your resolution. Both of these are the main hogs of performance. Also, if you use an ENB, you may want to tone the ENB graphical effects down (such as Depth of Field, Detailed Shadows, sunrays, Ambient Occlusion, etc), or turn them off completely.