Modding is a popular way to enhance gameplay, add content to, and even break your game.
Modding for all Bethesda games is simple and easy to understand once you know how to do it.
The sections of the guide that follow this one will explain the different ways to install and manage Mods for Skyrim.
Your Skyrim 'Data' Folder
Knowing the location of your Skyrim/Data folder is the important first step in installing mods to the game.
When Using Steam: Your data folder will be contained in C:\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim, with the 'C' changed to whatever drive letter your hard drive is assigned. (C is the default)
Otherwise, Skyrim will be installed to C:/ProgramFiles/BethesdaSoftworks/Skyrim, or an address similar.
The 'Skyrim' folder should contain one named 'Data'.
You're on your way.
Finding A Mod Manager
The way that you manage mods is completely your choice. Some players feel that Bethesda's In-Launcher manager is sufficient for their needs, and it is if you only have a few mods. But if you plan on going all out, you may want to consider Nexus Mod Manager.
Nexus Mod Manager can be obtained by going to Skyrim Nexus[skyrim.nexusmods.com], making an account, and downloading the manager.
Upon first launch, it will search your computer for your Skyrim Data directory, taking the earlier part of the work out for you.
Note that the Mod Manager CAN manage mods that you download from the Steam Workshop, as they are all placed in the same folder.
Downloading a Mod
Mods for Skyrim can be found in a few places, but there are two major sources.
The first is the Steam Workshop, where mods that you subscribe to will be automatically downloaded to your Data folder, which requires little to no input on your part.
The second is the Skyrim Nexus, where you have two options. They are
Download the mod with Nexus Mod Manager. This will function the same as Steam Workshop in that it requires little effort.
Download the mod manually. See the next section for instructions.
Manually Installing a Mod
When you download a mod manually, be sure to take into account any of the Author's personal instructions, or else the mod may not work as intended.
That said, when you download a mod, it will come in .zip form, which you need an unzipper to open. Popular unzippers are WinRAR and 7Zip.
Inside, there will be .esp and possibly .esm files. These are the files required in your mod.
In any case, copy all the files in the zip or rar to your Skyrim/Data folder, overwriting any files that you are prompted to. This is also important in making sure the mod works.
Once you have the mod installed, it is time for the final step.
Activating Your Mod
Mods that are manually installed need to be activated in order to work. However, this is also a very simple process.
Simply open the Skyrim launcher. Once there, click on Data Files. A menu will come up with all of your installed mods.
The mod that you just installed will be the one without an [X] in it's box. To activate it, simply check the box and hit OK.
Alternatively, you can activate mods in Nexus Mod Manager the same way, by checking the box next to the respective mod.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT UNCKECK SKYRIM.ESM OR UPDATE.ESM. THIS MAY CAUSE YOUR GAME TO BREAK.
Once you have checked the box, launch the game, and enjoy your modded Skyrim!