Programs and Utilities

Below is the list of free programs and utilities that people commonly use when modding Skyrim. For a full list of nearly 300 utilities, check out the Nexus.

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Mod Description
video link SKSE - Skyrim Script Extender Extends scripting capabilities of Vanilla Skyrim. Nearly essential since it is required by so many great mods such as SkyUI, Immersive HUD, Convenient Horses, Trade and Barter, etc. After SKSE is installed, the game must always be launched by running skse_loader.exe instead of TESV.exe in order to take advantage of the SKSE capabilities i.e. mods such as SkyUI that rely on SKSE will not work properly if you simply launch the game with the default launcher even if SKSE is installed correctly. (watch "How to launch the game with SKSE running").
Video Source 1: SKSE (with Skyrim 1.6 and later) by Gopher
      1. What is SKSE (1:42)
      2. How to install SKSE (3:56)
      3. How to launch the game with SKSE running (11:39)
Video Source 2: How to install SKSE when using Mod Organizer by Gopher
Video Source 3: How to install SKSE when using Mod Organizer by GamerPoets
video link Mod Organizer A free utility to help download, install, update and manage mods. The recommended and more capable alternative to Nexus Mod Manager (NMM). Like NMM, it also integrates with Nexus for easy 1-click downloading but it isolates installed mods and uses virtual directories so nothing in your actual data directory is ever overwritten. Lets you create multiple profiles to manage different mod collections, ini files, characters, and save games. Slightly higher learning curve than Nexus Mod Manager but it will save a lot of time in the long run.
Video Source 1: Mod Organizer Video Tutorial Series by Gopher
Video Source 2: Mod Organizer Video Tutorial Series by GamerPoets
Video Source 3: Basic Tutorial Video | Advanced Tutorial Video by Mark Hollis
Written Guide: STEP Project Mod Organizer Tutorial Guide
video link Nexus Mod Manager A slightly easier-to-use alternative to Mod Organizer. Nexus Mod Manager is a free utility that makes it fast and easy to download, install, update and manage mods. A very good mod manager for beginning modders.
Video Source 1: Nexus Mod Manager Tutorial Video by Gopher
video link LOOT (replaces BOSS) A one-click program that quickly optimizes mod load order to avoid conflicts. Essential for anyone who mods. Used in conjunction with Mod Organizer, Nexus MOd Manager or Wrye Bash. Always run LOOT every time you add or remov a mod.

** Do not use BOSS. It is no longer being updated. LOOT is the newer version of BOSS developed by the same team. **

Mod Organizer does have sorting built-in but it is recommended to install and use LOOT within Mod Organizer.
Video Source 1: How to install LOOT with Mod Organizer by Gopher
Video Source 2: Load Order Part 1 of 2 | Part 2 of 2 by Gopher
Video Source 3: LOOT : Load Order Optimisation Tool by GamerPoets
video link Wrye Bash If you have multiple mods that alter the same leveled list (e.g. 2 mods that add armor), only items from the last mod in your load order will actually be found in loot unless you create a Bashed Patch (Bashed Patch.esp) using Wrye Bash.

What is a bashed Patch? - An ESP file named "Bashed Patch.esp" that is auto-generated by Wrye Bash. When Bashed Patch.esp is placed at the bottom of your load order and enabled, it will merge leveled lists from 2+ conflicting mods so that new/modified items will appear in leveled lists within the game. Items from different mods are merged by marking each mod with one or more Bash Tags.

What is a leveled list? - Skyrim has hundreds of leveled lists that determine what type of soul gem you will find as loot in a dungeon, what armor an NPC will wear, what reward you will receive for completing a quest, etc. As needed, the game will will choose a random item from the appropriate list depending on what level you are i.e. lower-level items when you're low level and higher level items when you're high level. If two armor mods both try to edit the same leveled list used for randomly determining what armor a bandit will wear, the last armor mod will overwrite any changes made to that leveled list by the first mod such that there will never be any bandits wearing armor from the first mod. A bashed patch will include both armors in the leveled list so that bandits will have a chance of wearing both armors.

What is a bash tag? - Within Wrye Bash, mods are marked with various bash tags to guide Wrye Bash in how to properly construct a Bashed Patch.ESP appropriate for your current list of mods. (A new bashed patch should be created when adding or removing mods). Run Loot (see utility above) to sort your mods in the correct order. Once sorting is completed, Loot will automatically tag mods with the appropriate Bash Tag/s (i.e. all mods that alter loot lists). Common Bash Tags:
   Delev - Delete leveled list items (i.e. instructs Wrye Bash to delete entries from Leveled Actor, Leveled Item and Leveled Spell Records)
   Relev - Relevel leveled list items (i.e. instructs Wrye Bash to relevel entries in the Leveled Actor, Leveled Item and Leveled Spell Records)

Video Source 1: Wrye Bash : Installation - Mod Organizer | Wrye Bash : Bashed Patch - Mod Organizer by GamerPoets
Video Source 2: Wrye Bash - Bashed Patches by An3d1n
Written Guide: STEP Project Guide: Wrye Bash
video link TES5Edit An .esp viewer and conflict detector that can improve stability by automatically finding and removing dirty edits and replacing deleted objects with disabled objects. Recommend anyone who plays with mods to clean their master files as explained in this video. (view TES5Edit Cleaning Guide)
video link Merge Plugins TES5Edit Script If you've reached the 255 mod limit, this script helps to automate the mod merging process in Tes5Edit.
video link Skyrim Performance Monitor An external utiltity to track and benchmark system resource usage based on currently-installed mods - Memory, VRAM, CPU, GPU, FPS, etc.
Texture Pack Combiner A utility that merges up to 60+ different texture packs by hand-picking textures from each one, putting them all together into a single, fully-compatible and load-order-free package.
Optimizer Textures Optimizes textures for improved performance
video link ReProccer - Automated SkyRe patch generator Automated SkyRe compatibility patch generator for weapons, armor, ammunition and alchemy mods to make them compatible with T3nd0's Skyrim Redone. Watch this video explaining the problem and how this mod solves it.
video link Fores New Idles in Skyrim - FNIS Allows other mods to add different types of animations to the game: idles/poses, sequenced, arm offset, furniture, and paired animations, killmoves, and creature animations. Watch video for instructions on how to install and use.
video link ENB Manager and Changer Allows users to easily switch between ENB configurations
video link Skyrim configurator An external GUI interface to configure the Skyrim configuration files
Personalized Music - Add your own music to Skyrim Lets you add your own choice of music to skyrim. Add-ons totaling 900 tracks can be downloaded.


SKSE (with Skryim 1.6 and later) - by Gopher

1. What is SkSE (1:42)
2. How to install SKSE (3:56)
3. How to launch the game with SKSE running (11:39)


Mod Organizer - A Beginner's Guide (by Mark Hollis)


Mod Organizer - An Advanced Guide (by Mark Hollis)


Nexus Mod Manager Tutorial (by Gopher)

1. Introduction and "What is the Nexus Mod Manager" (0:00)

Setting up NMM
1. Downloading and installing NMM (02:06)
2. Running NMM for the first time (04:24)
3. Switching games, getting your mods to work with FOMM and NMM, and issues with OBMM (06:50)
4. Advanced installation with NMM and FOMM together (11:03)

Installing mods using NMM
1. Installing a simple mod (14:19)
2. Scripted installers (18:52)
3. Mods that do not work with NMM (19:57)
4. Mods that need a little work before installing (21:07)

Managing your mods
1. General Mod Management (25:44)
2. Updating your mods (29:43)


TES5Edit - How to clean your master files to improve game stability

(recommended for all players who play with mods)

Wrye Bash - How to Create Bashed Patches (by An3d1n)


ENBs - What they are & How to use ENB Manager and Changer