Essentials

updated June 7th, 2018

WARNING: THIS GUIDE WILL NOT WORK WITH SE.
Oh, hello! I didn't see you there. Welcome to The Official Elder Scrolls General Modding Guide: The Overhauled Editon!
In this extensive guide, we will teach you how to make Skyrim both fun AND good looking! First things first, I'm gonna have to teach you how to install mods and how each file works. The perfect way for a scrub like you to efficiently organize and sort your mods, is a mod organizing program! There are several of these programs we can use. You can even sort them manually if you're experienced or bold enough!
Remember to ALWAYS read the mod description on how to install, activate, and use the mod if you don't know. The same rule apply to README's in the mod packages.
 
In this section, we will discuss:
-Mod Organizing
-Essential Mods
-Tools and Utilities
-Skyrim Memory Patch
-Performance Mods
-Extra UI Mods
 

Quick Questions

Q: I don't like this guide, are their any other guides that are similar to this one?
A: We have a list of various other modding sites with their own guides and mod lists. Click on the Skyrim Guide section to check them out!
 
Q: I don't like guides like these, are there any overhauls that are quick and easy?
A: Try PerMa.
 
Q: I don't like PerMa, is there anything else?
A: Try SkyRe.
 
Q: I don't like Skyre, is there  anything else?
A: Try Requiem.
 
Q: I don't like Requiem, is there anything else?
A: Those are pretty much the only big overhauls out right now. Play the game vanilla with a few patches and essential mods.
 
Q: I don't like that either.
A: Then try Enderal! And if you don't like that then you're out of luck friend!
 

Enderal - The Shards of Order

From the guys who made Nehrim for Oblivion, Enderal is a Total Conversion for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim -  a new game based on Skyrim's core architecture, game-play, engine, and assets. It has been in the making for 4 1/2 years, with over 30 000 hours of work, on a completely non-commercial basis. It runs independently from Skyrim and provides a completely new game-experience with a new land with it's own lore and different biomes, deeply overhauled game-play and a professionally voiced story-line with a dark and mature narrative.

Mod Organizing

Nexus Mod Manager

 

Pros:
-Easy installation
-Simple interface
-Nexus friendly mod downloads
-Baby's first mod manager
Cons:
-Only works when the Nexus works which is never
-Little to no customization
-Does not work well with SteamWorkshop mods
-Does not like loose file mods
-Saves mods in a different folders
-When it tries to self update, you can't do ANYTHING
-Tells you to update incorrect versions
The Nexus Mod Manager is a really clunky program that forces you to play by its rules. When you use it, you're constrained to use nexus only mods. If you want to use something else, you're gonna have to painstakingly create folders and organize the mod so that the mod manager will recognize it. In terms of its features, other programs have better stability and even more features than this one. We highly recommend that you DO NOT use this program. If you do, I won't help you. In fact, I'll point and laugh at you when your mods don't install properly or when the program flat out doesn't work.
 
Pros:
-Organized interface
-Tons of options
-Mod profiles to switch between
-Save game manager
-Alerts you of conflicts
-Can move NMM mods to Mod Organizer
-INI editor
-Great for anyone!
-When I mean anyone, I mean scrubs
Cons:
-Mod conflicts can show up incorrectly
-Mods must be packed accordingly with game profiles
 

Mod Organizer

 

Mod Organizer is a great tool for someone who uses a lot of mods for Skyrim! The amount of things you can do in this program is huge! You can edit mods and INI files on the fly and not have to worry about overwrites and extra files. The best part about this is that you can basically organize your mods into separate games. For instance, you can have one profile for lots of combat mods and immersion while also having another profile with tons of graphics mods with lore breaking joke mods. It's like having the best of both worlds! The downside is that it takes a lot of time to figure out how everything works and how organization plays a deep role in all of this. But I'm assured that you will be confident and smart enough to do it! It's well worth learning and it does everything that the Nexus Mod Manager does and more! For more Mod Organizer help, click on the Link button!
Pros:
-Steam integrated
-Comes with the game
-Easy mod installation
-SteamWorkshop only mods
 
 
Cons:
-SteamWorkshop mods only come in BSA's
-Some mods take a LONG time to download and configure
-Hates SKSE
-Doesn't do a lot

SteamWorkshop/ SkyrimLauncher

 

The Steam integration into Skyrim is Steam's solution to modding websites. You can easily download mods and have the installed to your game as quick as possible! The downsides of only using  this is awful. Usually a mod gives you options and ompatibility fixes, but if you use the SteamWorkshop, you can't really get those since it's all packed into one BSA and one ESP. On top of that, editing load order is a pain in the ass. You can't click and drag groups of mods. Instead, you have press the up and down arrows on ONE selected mod to move it. Not to mention that some mods might have conflicts and the launcher won't tell you of any conflicts. The one plus side to using this is SteamWorkshop exclusive mods. Some mods are exclusive to SteamWorkshop mods for one reason or another and are usually really good. So to put it bluntly, ONLY USE THIS TO DOWNLOAD STEAMWORKSHOP EXCLUSIVE MODS.
Pros:
-MUST USE tools for modding
-Bashed patches
-ESP merging
-INI editor
-Savegame organizer and editor
-Conflict alerts AND missing Master file alerts
-Screenshot organizer
-Nexus friendly
- Old layout may not appeal to casuals
 
Cons:
-It doesn't matter you're gonna have to use this anyways
 
 

Wrye Bash

 

Wrye Bash is one of the oldest running mod managers. Formerly known as Wrye Mash, Wrye Bash is a very complex mod manager that is sorta like Mod Organizers big brother without the profile management. You can sort your mods and load order, get conflict notifications, edit INIs, and organize your saves. There are a few key features that seperate this from the rest of the mod managers. First off, you can merge mods and make bashed patches. A bashed patch is when you combine features with several different mods and make them not conflict or interfere with each other. It's a really great tool for someone who likes variety in there game. If you wanna play Skyrim the right way, you MUST use this. You don't have to use the mod organizing itself, but you have to use the extra tools it provides! What's a Bashed patch you ask? Well a bash patch is a ESP file that combines leveled lists. Leveled lists are basically the item and loot lists given to NPCs. Usually an item mod overwrites this. So if you have several mods that add items to NPCs, they're just gonna keep overwriting each other and you'll only get an item list from one mod! With a Bashed patch, you can combine these leveled lists together so that they're all compatible and you can have NPCs with different item mods on them. 

Manual

 

Pros:
-DIY
-Only limitation is yourself
-You can do "almost" anything!
-It's what ALL the cool kids use!
 
Cons:
-Requires one of the other mod managers to actually be viable.
IE: WryeBash or SteamWorkshop
-Can't edit load order without the SteamLauncher or a mod manager
-Complex for beginners
 
Manually installing mods is the way to go for most people. It's rewarding to learn and experience how to mod a game as big as Skyrim. It's probably the best way to start out modding, and then working your way to organizing mods with other programs and utilities. The reason is because once you learn the basics,  they lead you to complex fixes and organization which require programs such as Mod Organizer or Wrye Bash. You can't change the load order without using a program to do it. Some might find manually installing mods to be the hardest way to manage your mods, but this is how most people learned when Skyrim first came out and there weren't any mod managers out yet. It was all about trial and error with mods and finding the right combination that wouldn't crash your game every 30 seconds. If you want to learn what loose files are and how to install mods, click on the Skyrim button!

Essential Mods

This is a list of mods that are a MUST HAVE for anyone. These mods don't go too in-depth and work with any kind of rig. You'll see some major and significant changes in your game because these mods fix a lot of things that Bethesda left out or were too lazy to properly fix.
 

Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch

 

The Unofficial Patches are a MUST HAVE, no exceptions. If you have all the DLC, which you should, the only patch you need is this. This mod fixes plenty of bugs and conflicts in the game that will make you say to yourself, "How have I been playing Skyrim without these?"

SkyUI

A complete overhaul of the UI in skyrim (except for the crafting menu). This changes the console like user interface into a clean and PC friendly one. This also overhauls the favorites and hotkeys with outfits and lists you can swap on the fly! It even includes MCM which many mods use now. MCM is a short for Mod Configuration Menu, which was also used as a separate mod in Fallout:NV. This allows you to customize mods even more with an in-game menu that automatically changes your settings in an instant. If you don't use this mod, then I suggest you question your existence on this planet.

Crash Fixes

A plugin that helps fix some common crashes that revolve around some other SKSE plugins or just Skyrim in general.

Bug Fixes

Similar to Crash Fixes, Bug Fixes fixes some bugs that are related to the engine. This mod also includes Fix Lip Sync so you do not need that mod anymore.

MFG Console

During the end of Skyrim patch 1.8, people found out console commands that allowed you to edit facial expressions! It was an amazing discovery! Everyone found a way to use this whether it be screenshots or videos. Then a tragedy occurred, patch 1.9 came out which destroyed this feature, as well as some of the lip synching. Bethesda even said that nothing was broken, but it was probably more sweet little lies. Up until now, all hope was lost for MFG to be fixed. But then this mod came out and fixed it and made it even better! With a new console command UI that's more sleek and a MFG menu to easily edit faces. This is a great fix and tool for those who want to take screenshots, make videos, or have fun making goofy faces! Now this also comes with player blink fix which means that your character CAN ACTUALLY BLINK LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

Optimized Vanilla Textures

Fixes a few errors that were left in the Official High Resolution patch. As well as optimize some of the game's other textures which improves performance but barely takes anything away from the looks.

Precache Killer

This is a godsend of a mod.  It keeps the game from CTD when you use showracemenu or when you have too many hair mods installed at once. So now you can use all those high-res warpaints and over 200 hairs without having the game explode!

Main Font Replacement

Gives you a various amount of options to change your games font.

USMP

Unofficial Skyrim Modder's Patch is a large, community-collected compilation of fixes for the many bugs, inconsistencies, and errors that are either completely visual (placement of objects, or object models not being set up correctly) or only come to light from a modded install of Skyrim and its DLCs. 

Tools and Utilities

These are programs that are not mod managers or anything of the sort, but required tools that are needed for some mods.
Now not all of these tools are "required" for the user, such as the save game cleaner, but we recommend you look at all of these.

Conclusion

Do not use NMM. Only use SteamWorkshop for exclusive mods. Use Mod Organizer and Wrye bash to organize mods and make bashed patches, but doing things manually is the best way to learn faster. Manually install graphics mods and ENB. Download all of the essential mods and run them in LOOT. Run FNIS anytime you add a new animation mod. Always use SKSE to run and play your game. Use TES5Edit to fix dirty edits and clean old mods. Use DyndoLOD when you want to make your LODs look better.  DO NOT INSTALL DOZENS OF MODS AT ONCE AND ASSUME THEY WILL ALL WORK TOGETHER. Install mods in small groups so you can test for any conflicts, requirements, or incompatibilities. 
 
And that's all your basic needs for Skyrim Modding. Be sure to follow the rest of the guide or check out each individual section for something that interests you!
 
 

Skyrim Memory Patch

Ever since the game has been released, Skyrim has always ran like shit even; for the best of computers. Crashes, freezes, and all of the sort were not bias to anyone who dared to play Skyrim on PC, whether it be a casual playing on a laptop or a hardcore neckbeard playing with two Nvidia Titans. However, in the age of lies, we have found a way to make Skyrim not crash because of memory issues. Skyrim Memory Patch is utility plugin that fixes Skyrim's memory cap. To use it, you'll need SKSE. ENBboost is highly recommended for those who have decent computers and can run an ENB. There's a lot to cover about this memory patch. So if you want to read more, check out the enbdev site for the full page! Thankfully it's already been added to SKSE you don't have to worry about a separate download! Need more info? Check out the STEP guide on SKSE via the Link button to learn how to set it up and more!

Performance Mods

Quick and simple mods that will help with your game's performance. These mods are aimed for people with REALLY shitty rigs or people who don't really care about small details in their graphics.
 

Extra UI Mods

Skyrim's UI was one of the many problems for the game on PC. The UI is too clean compared to the previous games and was built for console use. Probably to attract the "new age" Apple lovers. SkyUI fixes this issue, but here are some extra mods you can add to liven up your interface a little more.
 

FAQ

Q: Why isn't this or that mod in the guide?
 
A: This guide was made specifically so that all or atleast most of the contents on this page will work together without any compatiblity issues unless notified on the mod page.
 
Q: What is a SkyProc Patcher?
 
A: SkyProc is a Java program used in some mods. It's most commonly used to record and compile settings for a mod without all the trouble of making 20 different ESP files. Mods like ASIS and Automatic Variants use this program to customize their setting easily. For more info, check out the UESPWiki page.
 
Q: Will you be adding more to these guides?
 
A: Of course!  We'll try to keep all the guides up to date and will notify everyone if something has changed or has been added on. We also accept submissions if the mod is good enough!