Skyrim BSA Extraction

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This tutorial will describe the process of extracting files from Skyrim's BSA (Bethesda Softworks Archive) files. The extracted files will allow you to access the animations, models, sounds / voices and textures.


  • 7-Zip Archiver
  • BSAopt
  • Figure out where Steam is installed. Hopefully you installed it someplace outside of the default "Program Files" folder if you are using Vista or Windows 7 (due to UAC issues when modding)
    • Default for 64-bit systems --> C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam
    • Default for 32-bit systems --> C:\Program Files\Steam
    • My computer (hehehe) --> D:\Apps\Steam
  • Figure out where you are going to store the unpacked files and make sure you have enough room to hold them.
    • Example: E:\Games\Skyrim\out\

Here is a list of the BSA files, how big they are and how much space the files consume once extracted:

BSA Filename Packed Size Extracted Size
Skyrim - Animations.bsa 41 MB 85 MB
Skyrim - Interface.bsa 34 MB 34 MB
Skyrim - Meshes.bsa 1,485 MB 2,990 MB
Skyrim - Misc.bsa 173 MB 176 MB
Skyrim - Shaders.bsa 25 MB 26 MB
Skyrim - Sounds.bsa 931 MB 953 MB
Skyrim - Textures.bsa 1,356 MB 2,381 MB
Skyrim - Voices.bsa 1,424 MB 1,455 MB
Skyrim - VoicesExtra.bsa 13 MB 13 MB

Install BSAopt

  1. There is not an installer so you just need to extract the contents somewhere and run the program inside.
  2. Extract the BSAopt archive someplace such as C:\Apps\BSAopt\
  3. Be sure to run the program that matches your operating system. "BSAopt x64.exe" for 64-bit versions of Windows, "BSAopt x32.exe" for 32-bit versions.
  4. You can create a shortcut to the program if you want but odds are, you will not be using it again after extracting the BSA files.

Skyrim BSA Extraction Screenshot 1.jpg

Unpack BSA Files

  1. Start BSAOpt
  2. Click the 1st Browse button at the top
  3. Browse to Skyrim's Data folder <<Steam Folder>>\steamapps\common\Skyrim\Data
  4. Double-click on a BSA such as "Skyrim - Meshes.bsa" and wait for it to load
  5. Select *.* from the dropdown selection and click the Apply button next to it
  6. Click the green checkmark button to select all files
  7. Click the 2nd Browse button at the bottom
  8. Browse to the folder you wish to store the extracted files and click the "Use Folder" button and wait for it to skim through the archive
  9. Click the Convert button at the bottom-right corner and wait for it to process all the files
  10. To extract more at this point, simply repeat the above steps

Skyrim BSA Extraction Screenshot 2.jpg

Configure NifSkope

It would be a good idea to configure NifSkope to look in the folder where you extracted the textures. When you open a NIF file that uses textures that shipped with the game, NifSkope will not be able to look inside a BSA to show you the textures, you will need to re-direct it to look in your "out" folder.

  1. Start NifSkope
  2. On the menu, click Render, then Settings
  3. On the Rendering tab, click the Add Folder button to add a new path to the texture search path.
  4. With "Choose a folder" selected, click the "Folder" button below it and select the folder where you extracted the "Skyrim - Textures.bsa" file. Example: E:\Games\Skyrim\out
  5. Close the Settings dialog box
  6. Now when you open one of the NIF models in your "out" folder, NifSkope should be able to find and apply the texture to the model (instead of looking at a white object)

Example: Open E:\Games\Skyrim\Out\Meshes\Weapons\glass\glasssword.nif

It might also be a good idea to include an additional search directory for Skyrim's Data folder. <<Steam Folder>>\steamapps\common\Skyrim\Data\

Skyrim BSA Extraction Screenshot 3.jpg


LHammonds Tutorial Site