How to Install Skyrim Mods

Boost your play on your PC, PS4, and Xbox One

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fantastic game right out of the box. The reason people still play it years after its initial release is the massive modding community. Skyrim mods can do almost anything, from improving the graphics to creating new quests and non-player characters (NPCs), to something as simple as making the maps more attractive.

Modding Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition isn't difficult. Still, it can be a confusing process. Since there are two versions of the game, and Skyrim is available on many platforms, there are multiple ways to find and install Skyrim mods.

What Version of Skyrim Do You Have?

There are two versions of Skyrim, and the game is available on several platforms. Both versions can be modded, but the only platforms that are compatible with mods are PS4, Xbox One, Windows PC, and Steam.

The version of the game, and the platform you use, affect the process you need to go through if you want to mod your game.

Here are the main sources of mods for Skyrim and the platforms you can use:

  • Nexus Mods: Windows, Steam
  • Steam Workshop: Steam

Here are the three main sources of mods for Skyrim: Special Edition and the platforms you can use:

  • Bethesda: Windows, Steam, PS4, Xbox One
  • Nexus Mods: Windows, Steam
  • Steam Workshop: Steam

Mods are not compatible with the PS3, Xbox 360, or Nintendo Switch versions of Skyrim.

How to Install Skyrim: Special Edition Mods for PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Skyrim: Special Edition is a version of Skyrim that's available for PC and consoles. It's designed to make the modding process easy. Bethesda hosts a huge variety of mods on their site, and you don't need to download additional software to use these mods.

The first part of this process is to create an account on Bethesda.net and locate some mods that interest you. Here are the steps that you need to take:

  1. After you log in to your Bethesda account, select the More menu (three horizontal lines) in the upper-left corner.

    The More menu on Bethesda.net
  2. Under the Mods heading, select Skyrim Special Edition.

    The "Skyrim Special Edition" heading under Mods
  3. On the Mods page, use the left column to sort and browse based on when the creator uploaded the mod, popularity, content tags, platforms, and more. Click a mod's tile to learn more about it.

    The Mods page for Skyrim
  4. On a mod's page, click Add to Library to download the mod.

    Alternatively, click the Download button (an arrow pointing down) on the main Mods page.

    The "Add to Library" button

Once you find Skyrim: Special Edition mods that you want to install, the rest of the process takes place in the game. You'll need to tie your accounts together, choose some of the mods you found, and install the mods.

The next step in modding Skyrim: Special Edition is to connect your Xbox, PlayStation Network (PSN), or Steam account to your Bethesda.net account and install the mods:

  1. On the main menu of Skyrim: Special Edition, select Mods.

    The Mods option in Skyrim
  2. Enter the email address you used when you created your Bethesda.net account, and select Create Account or press Enter.

    You need to select Create Account even though you have an account. As long as you enter the same email you used to set up your Bethesda.net account, you'll see the option to log in.

    The Bethesda.net login screen in Skyrim
  3. Enter your Bethesda.net username and password, and select Accept or press Enter.

    The Bethesda.net login in Skyrim
  4. The mods you downloaded from Bethesda's site appear under My Library. Click the one you want to install.

    The "My Library" heading in Skyrim mods
  5. Select Download, then wait for the mod to download.

    The Download button for a Skyrim mod
  6. Select Back or press Escape to return to the main mods screen.

  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for any additional mods.

  8. Select Back or press Escape, and the mods load.

Some mods don't work well with other mods. If your game doesn't operate normally, adjust the load order by selecting Load Order from the main mods screen. If that doesn't work, disable one or more mods by clicking the mod and then clicking Disable.

Understanding Skyrim: Special Edition Mod Limits

Depending on your platform, there may be limits on how many mods you can download and install. The number of mods you can install is lower if you don't have enough free space on your console.

Here are the limits you might encounter:

  • PS4: No more than 100 or 1 GB worth of active mods.
  • XBox One: No more than 150 or 5 GB of active mods.
  • Steam: No hard limit is imposed by Steam. Skyrim has a hardcoded limit of 255 mods.

The space limitations are placed by Microsoft and Sony. The limit on the number of mods you can install can be placed by either the console manufacturer or Bethesda.

The limitation on the number of mods can change from time to time if Bethesda decides that Skyrim can handle more or fewer mods while still remaining stable.

How to Install Skyrim or Skyrim: Special Edition Mods on PC Using Nexus Mods

The easiest way to find and install mods for the original version of Skyrim on a PC is a program called Nexus Mod Manager, which has an associated website. This program is also compatible with Skyrim: Special Edition and many other games. Modders upload their work to the website, where users can search for interesting mods, download mods, and then install mods using the Nexus Mod Manager program.

Before you can use Nexus Mod Manager, create an account on the Nexus Mods site. Account creation is free, although there are limits placed on free accounts. For instance, download speed is capped if you don't pay for a premium account.

The Skyrim mods on the Nexus Mods site are free, and you aren't required to pay money or provide billing information during the registration process.

The first step is to download and install the Nexus Mod Manager:

  1. Navigate to nexusmods.com and create an account.

    You don't need to pay to create an account. If you don't wish to pay, don't select any of the payment options during the registration process.

  2. Navigate to the Nexus Mods Mod Manager download page.

  3. Download Nexus Mod Manager.

  4. Install and run Nexus Mod Manager.

  5. Wait for Nexus Mod Manager to locate your copy of Skyrim.

    Nexus Mod Manager searches for over a dozen games. Once it has located Skyrim, click Stop Searching if you don't have the other games.

  6. Click the green check mark to confirm the location of your copy of Skyrim.

    If Nexus Mod Manager locates multiple games, click each green check mark to proceed.

    The green checkmark in Nexus Mod Manager
  7. Click Ok.

  8. Select Skyrim or Skyrim Special Edition, and click OK.

    The game selection window in Nexus Mod Manager
  9. Select the location where you want to store the mods you download, and click Finish.

  10. If another window appears, click OK.

  11. Change the location where mods are stored, or click Finish.

After you install Nexus Mod Manager, dig in and find some mods for it to manage. This is done through the same Nexus Mod site where you made an account and downloaded the manager software.

The next step is to locate and download Skyrim mods from the Nexus Mods site, and use Nexus Mod Manager to install the mods:

  1. Navigate to the Nexus Mods Skyrim page.

  2. Locate a mod that you are interested in, and click it.

  3. Click the Files tab.

    The Files tab
  4. Select Mod Manager Download.

    The "Mod Manager Download" button
  5. Wait for the mod to download in Nexus Mod Manager.

    You may need to authorize Nexus Mod Manager to make changes to your system. If it fails, run Nexus Mod Manager as an administrator.

  6. In the Nexus Mod Manager client, select a mod you downloaded, and click the green check mark on the left to install it.

  7. Wait for the mod to install.

  8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 to install other mods you would like to use.

  9. Click Launch Skyrim.

You can download and install as many mods as you want with Nexus Mod Manager. It's possible to run hundreds of Skyrim mods at the same time. However, adding too many mods can slow down the game, and some mods don't work well with each other.

If your game doesn't run well or doesn't launch, use Nexus Mod Manager to change the load order of the mods. In some cases, changing the load order makes mods work well together or run optimally.

If that doesn't work, then the next step is to use Nexus Mod Manager to disable mods until your game works again.

How to Install Skyrim or Skyrim: Special Edition Mods on a PC Using Steam Workshop

If you own either Skyrim or Skyrim: Special Edition on Steam, the easiest way to install mods is to go through Steam's workshop.

Owners of the Steam versions of Skyrim can use mods from Nexus Mods and Steam Workshop. Owners of the Steam version of Skyrim: Special Edition can use mods from Nexus Mods, Bethesda.net, and Steam Workshop. Using mods from multiple sources works fine in some cases, but you may experience undesired effects.

Here are the steps to install mods for Skyrim or Skyrim: Special Edition from the Steam Workshop:

  1. Click Library.

    The Library tab in Steam
  2. Locate The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in the games list on the left side of the client and click the one you wish to mod.

    Skyrim in a Steam library
  3. Select the Workshop tab.

    The Workshop tab
  4. Click the mod you want to install.

    Skyrim mods in Steam
  5. Click Subscribe to install the mod.

    The Subscribe button

You may need to close Skyrim and launch it again to install the mods. Some Steam Workshop mods and mods from other sources may not work well together.

Was this page helpful?