A long time ago a viewer on Youtube asked me to do a video on how to install SkyUI. At the time I didn’t really think there would be many people out there searching for this, rather that they would look for a guide on how to install Skyrim mods in general. So I did the video just with him in mind, but later it turns out there are just as many people looking for this guide, as well as the general one (which are the same by the way), hence this page here. So whether you were looking for this guide, or the general modding guide (no difference), I’ve made sure to cover all bases.
Introduction to Modding Skyrim
The process is the same for Skyrim LE (Legendary Edition) & Skyrim SE (Special Edition), the only difference is the version of the mods that you’re downloading (and SKSE, Skyrim Script Extender).
I personally recommend Skyrim SE due to improved stability, 64bit engine and generally much better performance and less crashes (very important if you have a lot of demanding mods).
Some mods work between the editions (textures are always fine but not meshes) but generally you want to stick to the one you’re using. And don’t go crazy with too many mods or the game might not even start if you have a lot of conflicts.
Install MO2 (Mod Organizer 2)
The first thing you need is a robust mod management utility. I use Mod Organizer 2. There are other ones out there, but this one is the best, at least in my (and many other people’s) opinion.
When installing MO2, at the bottom of the options make sure to check the handle Nexus links box and then later when you start it up, enter your Nexus account information. You will be able to download mods directly into it.
I’m not going to give you extensive tutorials on how to use MO2 because that would make this guide way too long, but when you first start it, it will offer to teach you the basics so make sure you go through that beginner tutorial that’s built into it.
Make sure your Skyrim root folder is away from your Windows drive (not 100% required but very recommended) and install MO2 as portable in a new folder you create inside the root one. Some people say you shouldn’t do it like that, but it’s 100% fine as long as there are no permission issues with Windows. I use portable option because I have multiple instances. But you don’t have to use portable of course.
MO2 can also be used to mod other games such as Fallout.
Install SKSE or SKSE64 (Skyrim Script Extender)
The next thing that you need is the Skyrim Script Extender. Download the appropriate 7z archive for your version of Skyrim. Download and extract anywhere on your machine. If you’re playing on LE then get the first one. On SE go with the SE build of SKSE. It won’t work otherwise.
Copy all extracted files to your Skyrim’s root folder. Always keep this updated or the mods won’t work if they require a newer version. Simply re-download and overwrite when there’s a new version.
However, if a mod that you really like hasn’t been updated to work with the newer version of SKSE, then you might want to wait until it’s updated so put that off temporarily. But generally you always want to keep it updated.
Now that you have SKSE, in MO2 you will see a dropdown that says SKSE and this is a shortcut that will start an instanced version of the game with SKSE enabled, which lots of mods require.
Feel free to send the shortcut to your desktop. You can rename it and even change the icon by right clicking on it > change icon then select the executable from the root folder just for its graphic. I demonstrate all of this in the video above.
You are ready to install mods now.
Essential Mods & SkyUI
These two mods will greatly improve the game and they are basically must-have.
SkyUI is important also because it provides MCM menu capabilities for other mods to use. Those are basically mod configuration menus you see in game.
When installing mods, always read the descriptions carefully, check the bugs & posts area to make sure it’s all good and updated, as well as possible tips and tricks other people recommend.
As I said, don’t go too crazy with it, especially as a beginner and also learn how to patch the game when you’re done installing all your favorite mods.
This should be enough for you for now. I did my best not to overwhelm you.
If you have any questions or you just want to say hi, feel free to leave me a comment either here at the bottom of the page, or in the comment’s area of the video embedded at the top.
I’ll see it and reply 100%. Good luck!