Modding Microsoft Flight Simulator with Vortex

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Microsoft Flight Simulator

From light planes to wide-body jets, fly highly detailed and accurate aircraft in the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Test your piloting skills against the challenges of night flying, real-time atmospheric simulation and live weather in a dynamic and living world.

Released: 2020

Genre: Simulation

Engine: Custom

Nexus Mods

This guide is designed to help you set up Vortex to install and manage mods for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

How it works

When installing an add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator, Vortex will look for the manifest.json file which usually marks the main folder.

If it can't find a manifest.json or a layout.json file, Vortex will assume that it's a mod that is intended to modify the vanilla files in the game. It will then compare the files in the archive to those in official game folder to try and work out which aircraft it is intended for. If Vortex can't find a relevant aircraft, it will present a dialog box asking the user to choose which aircraft to install it to. Once the app knows which aircraft the mod is intended to edit, it will automatically create a community folder mod using the files provided.

In the event that Vortex can't work out which aircraft the mod is intended to edit, it will show an error message informing the user of the problem with the archive.

In our research, we discovered that Microsoft Flight Simulator loads the mods from the Community folder in alphabetical order, so Vortex will assign each mod an index between AAA-ZZZ. This index is used to control the load order of your mods, which can be altered from the Load Order tab inside Vortex by dragging the entry higher or lower to adjust the priority. To update the installed files you must deploy each time a change takes place here. This is especially useful if two mods edit the same thing and you want to control which changes actually appear in game.

In addition to this, Vortex will automatically merge configuration and localisation files to prevent collisions and ensure all your content shows up properly in game. This is done each time mods are deployed and requires no user input. If you look in your Community folder, you'll see a mod called ZZZZ-merged-config, this does not appear in the load order (as it should always come last) and contains the merged files to overwrite those found in mods loaded before it.

Supported mod types

The following types of mod are fully supported for installation with Vortex.

Type Description
Community Folder Mods The most common type of mod for Microsoft Flight Simulator, they are used to install liveries, scenery, new aircraft and more. These mods are installed to the user-defined "Community" folder. Addons in this format are identified by the manifest.json file found inside their base folder.
Vanilla Content Overrides Mods intended to edit the vanilla installation files directly are automatically converted to Community Folder Mods (if possible). This includes things like tweaks to performance of the aircraft.

Packing your mod for Vortex

In order to make your addon compatible with Vortex, it's very simple. It's best to include only one addon in a zipped folder. So there should only be one manifest.json file. This also allows Vortex to control the load order effectively. If you're unsure how to package your mod, feel free to reach out to our team on the Vortex Support Forums or our Discord Server.


I can't see some of my installed mods in the Load Order tab

The mods that aren't showing up properly may not be structured correctly. The most common cause of this issue is when there are large compilations of mods in a single archive. The preferred format is one mod per archive, as stated above.

I am getting an error when trying to manage the game, how can I fix it?

Unfortunately, Microsoft Flight Simulator has a very flexible installation across both Steam and the Windows Store. We have catered for the most common installation setups but we ask that you contact our support team via the forums or Discord if you have a setup that isn't working.

Can I download mods from other sources?

Vortex will allow you to install mods from any website. You simply have to download the zipped file and manually drop it into the "drop zone" at the bottom of the mods tab. Addons downloaded from Nexus Mods do, however, have the added benefit that you can track updates to them, endorse them to support the authors and directly open the download page from the right click menu.