Step 5 – Tools


Here are a few more applications that I have found useful or even essential when modding Skyrim SE. For now we will 'only' install them and, if necessary, set them up for our needs. If you are a beginner or generally unsure which of them you might need, I would actually recommend you download and install all of them as they are very small and will probably come in handy at some point.

Most of them remain optional however.

5.1 LOOT - Load Order Optimisation Tool (optional)

LOOT automatically analyzes your mod list and presents you with an optimised load order plus warnings / instructions for some individual plugins.

Please note that I do not use LOOT myself and the guide includes no instructions for it. I explained my reasons for that here under 'To LOOT or not to LOOT'. If you only install the Phoenix Flavour Core and continue on your own afterwards, you should probably download LOOT - especially if you are unfamiliar with xEdit. Relying on LOOT and not using xEdit is not optimal. Learning xEdit takes time but it is very much worth it.

LOOT is still a great tool, but in my opinion not suited for large, complex mod setups.

  • Download the latest version of LOOT and run the installer.
  • I suggest you install LOOT into Your Modding Folder\Tools like everything else.
  • Add LOOT.exe to MO2's executable drop down list.

5.2 Merge Plugins Standalone

After Mod Organizer 2 and xEdit this the third-best tool for modding Skyrim, hands down. Mator's amazing Merge Plugins Standalone practically allows us to load as many plugins as we want by just merging them together.

Download the latest version of Merge Plugins Standalone.

  • Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools\Merge Plugins Standalone v2.3.1.
  • Add MergePlugins.exe to MO2's executable drop down list and run it from there. You should be directly prompted with the Profile window where you should select the SSE profile.
  • Under Game, you should obviously have Skyrim: Special Edition selected and Path should point to your root folder. Click OK.
  • Right-click anywhere inside the Plugin Selection window and select Check all, then hit OK once more.
  • When the application window comes up, it should automatically open the Settings for you.
  • Switch to the Integrations tab.
    • Check I'm using Mod Organizer.
    • Point Mod manager path to your MO2 root folder (containing ModOrganizer.exe) and Mod manager mods path will be filled in automatically.
  • Click OK and exit the application.

5.3 Bethesda Archive Extractor (BAE) (optional)

This is basically 7zip for BSAs (asset archives). It's no longer required to unpack BSAs when porting Classic Skyrim mods as that can be done through MO2's integrated unpacker now, but I still use this tool on occasion to check the contents of a BSA that I have not installed in MO2 or don't want to unpack.

  • Download the latest version of Bethesda Archive Extractor.
  • Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools\Bethesda Archive Extractor v0.10.
  • Create a shortcut of the executable and move it to your modding folder's root directory for quick access.

5.4 Windows Texture Viewer (WTV) (optional)

While this little tool is unfortunately prone to crashing and unable to open certain types of DDS files, it is still a quick and convenient way to view textures and check their resolutions.

  • Download the latest version of Windows Texture Viewer.
  • Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools\Windows Texture Viewer v0.89b.

You can use the included to set WTV as the default application to open DDS files. To do so follow these instructions (for Win10):

  • Right-click and select Open with.
  • In the window that comes up next, make sure Always use this app to open .dds files is checked before selecting More Apps.
  • Scroll down until the Look for another app on this PC option appears and select it.
  • Locate your WTV.exe and double-click it.

5.5 Ordenador - Optimizer Textures (optional)

This is a simpler alternative to DDSopt; a utility that you can use to quickly resize any texture to save some precious megabytes of VRAM if you need them.

  • Download the latest version of Optimizer Textures (Ordenador).
  • Extract the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools\Ordenador - Optimizer Textures v0.8.3.
  • Create a shortcut of the executable and move it to your modding folder's root directory for quick access.

5.6 SSE NIF Optimizer

The format of meshes (.nif files) changed with the Special Edition, requiring meshes created for Classic Skyrim to be updated with this little tool. Fortunately, that process is quick and simple.

  • Download the latest version of SSE NIF Optimizer.
  • Extract the contents from the mod archive directly into your modding folder - it's only a single executable. You can launch it directly from there.

5.7 ENB Man - An ENB Manager (optional)

Contrary to what its name suggests, this little tool is also excellent at managing ReShade or SweetFX or everything at once with multiple different binary versions and presets. If you're even remotely considering to install more than one preset for any post-processing injector, you should definitely install ENB Man - plus you can also manage ENB / ReShade / SweetFX presets for other games as well!

There is a bunch of ENB managing tools out there - I tried some of them and this one definitely works best for me in terms of usability, simplicity and features. Highly recommended!

  • Download the latest version of ENB Man - An ENB Manager.
  • Extract the downloaded archive (which contains a single executable) to Your Modding Folder\Tools\ENB Man - An ENB Manager v3.0.0.0.
  • Create a shortcut of the executable and move it to your modding folder's root directory for quick access.

  • Run the executable and click the green plus (+) icon to add a new game.
  • Click the folder icon next to Path to executable and point the application to your SkyrimSE.exe.
  • Rename the profile to something like TES V - Skyrim SE.
  • When you're done, click the green checkmark.
  • You can close ENB Man now.

5.8 Skyrim Performance Monitor 64

This is the 64bit updated version of an older tool by the same name and it does what it says on the tin - provide you with live hardware monitoring when SkyrimSE.exe is running. It's most useful when you have a second display so that you can check your hardware while playing, but you can also leave it open in the background and have a look at the graphs after closing the game again. In addition to that, it also makes it easy to track the current GPU memory usage for people nearing their VRAM limit and / or playing with many ultra high resolution textures. There is even an optional, toggle-able ingame overlay.

  • Download the latest version of Skyrim Performance Monitor 64.
  • Extract the setup.exe from the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\temp and run it.
  • Let the setup install SPM under Your Modding Folder\Tools\Skyrim Performance Monitor 64.
  • Once the installation process is completed, SPM will automatically be launched for you.

  • Navigate to Tools > Setup Options and check whether the paths in the first tab point to the correct directories.
  • Switch to the second tab, Miscellaneous Options, and uncheck Use FPS Smoothing. Then set the Monitoring Mode to Option 3.
  • If you like, you can now also customize the hotkeys and settings for the ingame overlay (changing the font to 13pt Segoe UI Semibold is recommended - see here).
  • Make sure to click SAVE before closing the Settings and exiting SPM.


5.9 Mod

Using a tool called Mod is by far the easiest way to share your mod list including INIs, load and mod order. If you run into issues and need some help, you will be asked for your Mod link. For now we only need to install the application.

  • Download the lastest version of Mod
  • Extract the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools and rename the 'Modwatch-win32-ia32' folder to 'Mod v0.4.1'.

5.10 zEdit

Developed by mator to be an all-in-one modding solution, zEdit offers similar functionality like xEdit plus includes an automated patching framework and merging plugins.

  • Download the lastest version of zEdit.
    • zEdit_Alpha_v0.5.3_-_Portable_x64.7z
  • Extract the downloaded archive to Your Modding Folder\Tools\zEdit v0.5.3.
  • Add zEdit.exe as an executable to Mod Organizer 2.

  • Run zEdit through MO2.
  • Click the gears icon and make sure the Path is correct, then close the profile settings window.
  • Select zMerge from the drop-down list and hit START SESSION.
  • Click the gears icon in the top right.
  • Switch to the Integration Settings tab:
    • MO2 (portable) should be selected as your mod manager with the correct file paths filled in below.
  • Switch to the Merge Settings tab:
    • The output path should be your Mod Organizer 2\mods folder.
    • Under Integration, you will want Disable Plugins checked.
  • Once you have made sure everything is configured correctly, you may close zEdit.