Step 1 – Installation

STEP 1 - Installation

So the first thing we need to do is actually install Skyrim SE - or, in case you already did that, ensure that it is in the correct folder and no traces of previous mod installations remain. This will prevent some major headaches down the line - faulty INI edits or leftover mod files can cause serious issues.

In addition to that, we will also install and 'fix' the Creation Kit, Bethesda's official modding tool.

1.1 Your Skyrim SE modding folder

A dedicated modding folder is one of the most important tools in my opinion - and something that is very often overlooked! I use my modding folder as the main directory for all my other tools, downloaded mod archives, custom mods / patches, notes, backups, screenshots, et cetera.

This is optional, but highly recommended. I will be constantly referring to this folder throughout all parts of the guide.


  • Create a new folder anywhere on a hard drive with lots of space - like an External USB 3.0 drive or a secondary Internal HDD.
  • Name it whatever you want, e.g. Skyrim SE Modding and create several more new folders inside (see below)
  • For now this is all there is to do - we will come back later.
your new modding folder

1.2 Installing Skyrim SE to the correct directory

Yes, even for the initial installation process there are things to keep in mind. First, all your modding tools and your Skyrim SE installation must be outside of the default folders, C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files x86. This is due to permission issues with the OS that may occur at some point later on and break certain mods / tools. Better to not install anything there in the first place.

It is also important to know that your Skyrim SE installation and your Mod Organizer 2 folder containing all your mods need to be on the same drive - preferrably on your SSD which will give improved performance over an HDD, leading to shorter loading screens and stutter-free loading of very large textures. Bear in mind that Skyrim SE is almost 13GB by itself and a decent setup can reach 50-100GB worth of mods, depending on the type of mods you install.


  • Install Skyrim SE (and Mod Organizer 2) to a hard drive with at least 150GB of free space.
I do not have Skyrim SE installed.

  • Launch Steam and open your Library. Go to Skyrim Special Edition and click install.
  • It is important to change the installation path now – by default every game is installed under C:\Program Files x86\Steam\steamapps\common. Choose the option Create a new Steam Library under … and point it to a folder on a hard drive of your choice (preferrably an SSD) outside your C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files x86 folders, click next and wait for the game to install.

I already have Skyrim SE installed but it is on the wrong hard drive / located in the default folder (Program Files Steam steamapps common).

  • First check if you have the correct version of Skyrim SE.
  • In your root folder, right-click your SkyrimSE.exe, select Properties and check Product version under Details – it should be 1.5.50.0.
  • If it’s not, switch to Steam and download the update under Downloads. It is important that you have this specific version of Skyrim SE installed.

  • If you never added a second Steam library directory, you will need to do this first. Launch Steam and open the Settings.
  • In the Downloads tab, select Steam Library Folders, then Add Library Folder and point it to a location somewhere outside your C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files x86 folders on the hard drive where you wish to install Skyrim SE and Mod Organizer 2, so preferrably your SSD.
  • Close all windows when you are done.
  • Open your Steam Library. Right-click The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in your games list and select Properties. Navigate to the Local Files tab and select Move Install Folder which will then prompt you with a window where you can select your new, second library directory. Finally hit Move Folder and wait for the process to complete.

My Skyrim SE installation was modded before and might have left-over mod files.

  • To circumvent the need for a full re-install, we will instead delete all files except for the large ones in the data folder and then verify your game files which will cause all missing, modified or corrupted files to be re-acquired. This is significantly faster than re-installing the entire game and yields the same result.
  • Locate your Skyrim SE installation which should be somewhere inside a Steam library (outside your C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files x86 folders) under Steam\steamapps\common\Skyrim Special Edition. It contains your SkyrimSE.exe and is called root folder. Delete everything inside except for the data folder.
  • Next open your data folder and delete all folders and loose files inside except for the ESM (5) and the BSA (18) files.
  • Launch Steam and open your Library. Right-click The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in your games list and select Properties. Under the Local Files tab, select Verify Integrity of Game Files…. Wait for the verification and subsequent download process to complete.

You should now have 100% clean vanilla root and data folders in a directory outside your C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files x86 folders. Perfect!

Make sure you are running the guide's current supported version of Skyrim SE: 1.5.53.0
If you are not, please refer to this guide on how to roll back to the previous version.

1.3 Backups and Shortcuts

I would highly advise you back up some of your game files, specifically the executables and the ESMs. You could also just backup the entire game folder using the Steam backup feature, but in my opinion that's just not worth the 13GB of space. If the game should receive another update, SKSE64 and all other DLLs / DLL plugins will be broken. By overwriting the updated executables with the old ones, you will then still be able to launch the game and play until SKSE64 and all dependant mods are updated. Once that has happened, you can safely verify the game files to have Steam re-acquire the latest executables for you.


  • To backup the current executables, copy SkyrimSE.exe and SkyrimSELauncher.exe from your root folder to Your Modding Folder\Backups\<version number>.
  • You should also create backups of all five ESM files in case you ever mess with them in xEdit and accidently save the edited plugins (of course you could also just have Steam re-acquire them via the verify game files option). Copy the five ESM files from your data folder into the same folder as the previously backup-ed executables under Your Modding Folder\Backups\<version number>.
  • (Optional) Lastly, I always create shortcuts to various directories for my Skyrim SE modding folder which in turn is added to Quick Access. Navigate to your Skyrim SE root folder, create a shortcut for both root and data folders, then move them to your modding folder - now you can quickly open your installation folders (root/data) through your modding folder.

 

Backup 1.5.39.0

1.4 Disable automatic updates in Steam

Should Skyrim SE receive another update - which is likely because of the Creation Club, unfortunately - SKSE64 and all dependent mods will need to be updated as well. This will take weeks at the very least. However, you can continue playing the previous version with SKSE64 and all your mods by simply setting Skyrim SE to only update when launching the game - but since you start the game through the SKSE64 launcher, Steam will never update.


  • Find The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in your Steam Library.
  • Right-click it and select Properties.
  • Switch to the Updates tab and under Automatic updates, make sure it is set as Only update this game when I launch it.
  • Problem solved!

1.5 The Creation Kit

Next we are going to install Bethesda's official modding tool, the so-called Creation Kit, or CK for short. It is important to note that - just like the game itself - the CK was updated for the 64bit engine and is now commonly referred to as CK 2.0 or CK64. It can also no longer be acquired directly from Steam but must be downloaded via the Bethesda Launcher which in turn requires a Bethesda account, unfortunately. Even if you do not plan to start creating mods yourself anytime soon you should absolutely install the CK as it is also used for 're-saving' - porting plugins from Classic Skyrim to the Special Edition.


  • Go to Bethesda.net and scroll all the way down to the footer where you can download the Bethesda Launcher.
  • Let the executable guide you through the installation process.
  • When that is done, you must log-in with your Beth.net account or register a new one.
  • Once you're logged in, you will see two CK icons in the left icon bar so make sure you select the white one - the green one is for Fallout 4.
  • The CK should be installed directly into the Skyrim SE directory.
  • Wait for the files to download, then close the Bethesda Launcher.
  • From now on, you can launch the CK directly from the root folder (or via Mod Organizer 2 once that is set up and running).

1.6 Fixing the Creation Kit

It's Bethesda, what did you expect?


  • Download my CreationKitCustom.ini (CK64 Fixes Release 0.8) from the files section and extract it to your root folder.
  • Download SSE CreationKitFixes from the Nexus and extract the contents of the archive into your root folder as well. Overwrite if prompted.