Modding Skyrim Special Edition with Vortex
This guide will walk newcomers to modding through the steps necessary to find, download, and install our mod manager Vortex as well as the following mods for Skyrim Special Edition:
- Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (USSEP)
- Sky UI
- Immersive Armors
- Immersive Weapons
- A Quality World Map
These mods were selected to give you a good modding foundation and in order to convey some basic knowledge regarding Skyrim modding.
Note: you may choose to install other/more mods than the ones listed above, but please note that this guide is focused on describing the exact process for those exact mods.
- 1 Installing our Mod Manager Vortex from the website
- 2 Vortex Initial Setup
Installing our Mod Manager Vortex from the website
- Go to NexusMods.com and click the “Install Vortex” button near the top right corner.
- Click “Download the latest version now”.
- In the file section, download the file at the top described as “One-click installer” for Vortex (Manual Download). This is the preferred and recommended way of installing Vortex.
- Once the download is finished, open the *.exe file to run the installation. Note: some misconfigured anti virus programs might rename the *.exe to something else, in that case, rename the downloaded file to *.exe and open it to run the installation.
- Vortex will install on C: (note that this is just Vortex and the files it requires to function which amount to around 70 MB). You may choose within Vortex later on where you want to download your mods to.
Vortex Initial Setup
Once Vortex is installed, there are a few steps to be taken in order to set it up to manage and download mods for Skyrim Special Edition. There are also some things that you might (optionally) want to customise to your liking.
Starting up Vortex
Once installed, start up Vortex via the shortcut on your Desktop. Upon initialising, Vortex will automatically associate itself with Nexus Mods download links and inform you of that via a notification in the top right corner:
This is necessary so Vortex can be used to download mods straight from Nexus Mods via the corresponding “Download: Vortex” button on a given mod page.
As Vortex does this automatically upon startup, no action on your end is required.
Link your Nexus Mods account to Vortex (required)
Open Vortex and click the red icon in the top right corner.
In the next dialogue window that comes up, click “Log In On Website” to open a new page in your browser:
If no new page is loaded in your browser, copy and paste the link displayed by Vortex into your browser’s address bar:
Click the "Authorise" button to allow Vortex to sign in. Congratulations! You have now successfully linked your Nexus Mods account to Vortex.
Note: if authorising via the website fails, you can try to log in manually. To do so, click on the hyperlink that reads “Not working? Try manual login.”
Follow the instructions on screen to copy and paste your API key from your API access page (https://www.nexusmods.com/users/myaccount?tab=api+access):
Once you hit “Save” you should have successfully linked your account with Vortex and your Nexus Mods profile should display your avatar.
Search for, discover, and manage a game (required)
Vortex is capable of managing mods for dozens of different games. That being said, Vortex does not just automatically take over mod management for a particular game - in case you would rather manage it yourself or with another tool. Therefore, in order to use Vortex the first thing we want to do after installation is to tell it to actively manage Skyrim Special Edition.
To do that, navigate to the “Games” section from the side menu.There you will see three different tabs:
- Managed - Games currently handled by Vortex.
- Discovered - Games Vortex has found on your hard drive.
- Supported - All games Vortex supports that are neither discovered nor managed (yet).
If your installed game does not appear in the “Discovered” tab, you can have Vortex attempt to find it by running either a quick scan (from the toolbar) or a detailed scan (from the button at the bottom right of the Vortex window). A detailed scan may take several minutes to complete, so, please, be patient while Vortex is searching for the game.
Once your game appears in the “Discovered” tab, put your mouse over the game tile and click “Manage”. Vortex will automatically switch to that game mode and a tile representing Skyrim Special Edition will appear in the top left.
Change your Download Folder and/or Mod Staging Folder (optional)
While Vortex will always install the files it needs in order to work to your C drive, you are free to choose the location where you want your downloaded mods (i.e. the file archives) to be stored.
To change the default download location which is “C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Roaming\Vortex\downloads” go to your Settings > Download:
You can specify any folder on your drive. Make sure to confirm your selection by clicking “Apply”.
Mod Staging folder
This is the folder where Vortex stages your mods i.e. unpacks them to. Due to how the Bethesda games work (including Skyrim and Skyrim Special Edition), the Mod Staging Folder must be on the same partition as the game.
The default location for the Mod Staging Folder is “C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Roaming\Vortex\skyrimse\mods”. To change it, go to Settings > Mods and change the folder to an (empty) folder of your choice that is located on the same partition as the game.
You can change both your Download Folder as well as your Mod Staging Folder at a later point in time and even when you have already downloaded and installed mods. Depending on the amount of mods you have downloaded and/or installed, it will take a while for Vortex to move your folder(s). Please make sure that enough disk space is available and remain patient, as your mods will be copied over.