TESG Skyrim Modding Guide - DISCLAIMER, THIS GUIDE WILL NOT WORK WITH SE

Skyrim, unlike Morrowind, hasn't been around since the 1800s, and as such doesn't have any definitive 'best' mods in a particular category. As such, this list can't really be considered the end-all of Skyrim mods.  This guide was created by Trainwiz, Izzy, Guardly, and numerous anonymous posters. Remember, this is a /tesg/ guide. It will sometimes be biased on mods because that's how people are. If you wanted to know what mods /tesg/ mostly uses, this guide is for you.
 
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.
 
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!
Since Special Editions Release, the LE page has been set to hidden but you can still buy the game on steam. Here's the link.
 

How To Install Mods

Let's explain the installation process now.
We'll start off with a simple mod called
It's a very essential mod that fixes a lot
of bugs that Bethesda left over.
Now just simply download it and the mod should be packed into an archive.  You can use winrar, winzip, and 72zip to open this.
Once opened, you should see the contents of the file.
 
You should see something like this.  Now, what do these files mean?
 
.esm is a master file.  It loads up .esps and are
dependent on them.  Most mods don't use .esms and
this mod is no exception.
 
.esp is a plugin file.  This is where all the info and
changes are made to make the mod.  Things like items,
npc's, and even whole landscapes are recorded and placed here.
 
.bsa is a archive file which holds all the resources that mods need like textures and meshes.  This works along side with the .esp and .esm.  Usually, you'll need to create paths between meshes and textures by making folders within their respective locations and then adding them to the .esp  But with the bsa, you don't have to.  Instead of the esp reading paths to the folders, it takes the resources from the bsa's so that way your normal folders can stay cleaner and more organized.
 
.bsl keeps records of changes within the .bsa files and is only used by the author of the mod.  You don't need this file for the mod to work.  It's just there because the modder probably had not idea what it did either.
 

Squiggums Skyrim Guide

An alternative Skyrim Guide by our buddy Squiggums!
 
To install this mod, simply click and drag or extract all of these files into the Skyrim data folder. 
We're not done yet however. 
 
Now you'll need to activate the .esp for it to work.  Start up skyrim and you should come up to this launcher.
If you're a pirate, you'll need to activatethe launcher.exe to get to this screen.
 
Click on data files and this load order should show up.  This will show you which files are read and activated first.  Order always matters so don't move any of the official DLCs out of their places.  They should always go first.
 
If you placed everything correctly, you should see the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.
Place it right after all of your .esm files and activate it.
 
Press the OK button and start playing!
 
And that was just the bear basics of modding!
If you want to learn more, read some of these guides to help you out.  If you have any questions, just remember that Google is your friend and he will never leave you. 
 
To uninstall mods, you do the  
You do the EXACT opposite of this guide.
Instead of placing the files, you delete them.
Keep your old zip or rar files of mods you've downloaded to use as guides to delete specific files.  Sorta like backtracing your steps with a map.
                           
 
Happy modding! Now, let's get really started!