Modding Beginner's Guide by tony971
Skyrim » Modders resources and tutorials
Added: 10/08/2014 - 05:52PM
Updated: 28/02/2015 - 08:13PM

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Last updated at 20:13, 28 Feb 2015 Uploaded at 17:52, 10 Aug 2014

Modding Beginners Guide
Welcome to Nexus! This guide will help setup your game for modding.
It will give a basic understanding of the tools, mods, and settings needed to have a stable modded game.
Sorry that it's so long. I'm trying to make you an expert ;)

Info below is courtesy of Gopher, Boris Vorontsov, Sheson, and The STEP Project.

1. Make Your Game Bethesda Vanilla
Modding is very tempermental and you'll want to start off with a clean game.
Mixing Steam Workshop and Nexus mods is a bad idea.

1. Unsubscribe from all of your Steam Workshop mods.
2. Go to Steam/SteamApps/common/Skyrim.
3. Delete all of the files and folders EXCEPT:

Data (folder)
DirectX10 (folder)
DotNetFX (folder)
Skyrim (folder)
VCRedist (folder)

4. Open the Skyrim/Data folder.
5. Delete all of the files and folders EXCEPT:
You may not have all of these. That is okay.

Interface (folder)
Strings (folder)
Video (folder)
Skyrim - Animations.bsa
Skyrim - Interface.bsa
Skyrim - Meshes.bsa
Skyrim - Misc.bsa
Skyrim - Shaders.bsa
Skyrim - Sounds.bsa
Skyrim - Textures.bsa
Skyrim - Voices.bsa
Skyrim - VoicesExtra.bsa

6. Open the Data/Interface folder.
7. Delete everything EXCEPT Translate_[your language].txt.
8. Open the Data/Strings folder.
9. Delete everything EXCEPT:

Skyrim_[your language].DLSTRINGS
Skyrim_[your language].ILSTRINGS
Skyrim_[your language].STRINGS
Update_[your language].DLSTRINGS
Update_[your language].ILSTRINGS
Update_[your language].STRINGS

10. Open the Data/Video folder.
11. Delete everything EXCEPT BGS_Logo.bik.
12. Go to Documents/My Games/Skyrim.
13. Delete Everything.
This will delete your saves. If you want to keep them, don't delete your Saves folder. Just know that modded saves are unstable when you remove mods from your mod list the way we just did.
14. Right click on Skyrim in Steam and select "Properties."
15. Under the "Local Files" tab, select "Verify Integrity of Game Cache..."
You now have a perfectly vanilla game.

2. Move Steam Out Of Program Files.
There's gonna be a whole bunch of permission issues if you leave it there and start modding.
(Yes, even if you run as administrator.)
In order to fix this, we're going to take Steam, and move it somewhere else.

1. Exit completely out of Steam by right clicking on it in the task bar and selecting "Exit Steam."
2. Go to C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam/.
3. Delete everything except the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe.
4. Create a new folder somewhere like C:/Games/Steam/ or D:/Games/Steam/.
5. Copy the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe file to the new directory.
6. Delete the originals and launch Steam.exe. You will need to verify your account again.
7. Verify the integrity of game cache for all of your installed games.
You have now successfully moved your Steam installation.

3. Make Your Game Modding Vanilla
Although Bethesda allow their games to be modded, they don't clean their files to do so.
I guess that's our job. This is known as "cleaning your masters."

1. Now would be a good time to make a folder for your modding tools. I'm using C:/Games/Modding Tools/.
2. Download and install TES5Edit to your Modding Tools folder.
3. Start Skyrim via Steam and exit after your graphics settings have been determined.
4. Run TES5Edit and ONLY check Update.esm.
Skyrim.esm will load with Update.esm; this is fine. Only clean Update.esm.
5. When it finishes loading, right click Update.esm and select "Apply Filter for Cleaning."
6. Right click again and select "Remove 'Identical to Master' Records." (Yes, you're sure.)
7. Right click again and select "Undelete and Disable References."
8. Close TES5Edit and save. (No, I didn't mess up the order on that. The save dialog pops up when you hit the close button.)
9. Repeat steps 4-8 for Dawnguard.esm, Dragonborn.esm, and HearthFires.esm if you have them. ONE AT A TIME BECAUSE THEY SAY SO.
Dawnguard.esm will need to be cleaned twice
You now have a clean game to start modding with.

4. Make A Clean Save
The opening scene of Skyrim is the biggest script mess in the whole game.
If you try to play it on a heavily modded game, you're likely to see bugs.
When you finish with this section, you will have everything prepared to start adding mods to your game.

1. Download and install LOOT to your Modding Tools folder.
LOOT 0.6 requires Internet Explorer 11 in order to generate its reports. This requirement will go away once LOOT 0.7 is released.
2. Run LOOT for Skyrim and select "Sort Plugins" followed by "Apply" when it finishes.
3. In the "Details" tab of your report, you'll see the different plugins you have running. There should not be any notes to clean your files with TES5Edit because you've just done so.
4. Start Skyrim via Steam and select "Data Files."
5. De-activate the HighResTexturePack .esp files (if you have the Hi Res DLC) and start a new game.
6. Play until you complete the quest "Unbound" and save the game.
7. Exit the game and go to Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Saves/.
8. Rename your save file to "Clean Save.ess"
9. Start Skyrim via Steam again and turn the HighResTexturePack .esp files back on (if you have them).
10. Make a backup of your Steam/SteamApps/common/Skyrim and Documents/My Games/Skyrim folders.
These are the backups to your perfectly working, vanilla game and save. When all else fails and you've broken Skyrim, these will be waiting for you. Think of these backups as your happy place. You will start every new game from your Clean Save. If you want your character to look differently or have a different name, we'll talk about some mods for that later. Remember, Clean Save and vanilla backup = happy place.

5. Actually Start Modding
Now that we've got a nice clean game and save to start from, let's start modding.
In order to set ourselves up to cause the least amount of damage, we'll be using Mod Organizer.

Let's take a second to talk about the way that Skyrim works. We're not going to be talking code, don't worry. These are just basic things that you should know if you're going to be using mods.

The Steam/SteamApps/common/Skyrim folder (also known as your main Skyrim directory) contains your executable files. The files in this folder are MAJOR game changing files. They'll effect the way that Skyrim launches. Mod managers won't even consider handling things that go here because, just like any other executable, they have the ability to contain viruses or mess with your computer. If a mod says to put things into this directory, you MUST be wary of the source.

Most mods will install to the "Data" folder within the main Skyrim directory. Things in this folder can affect your game, but don't have much real power outside of that. This is where you'll find the contents of your game. You'll find the scripts, audio, textures, ... you get it. It's all in the Data folder. Three types of files that you'll find in this folder are ESM, ESP, and BSA files. ESM and ESP files (also known as plugins) are your game changing files. They hold the content that will change the way the game works. BSA files are basically the Bethesda .zip file. They're zipped up files of textures, meshes, sounds, or anything else that the ESP or ESM files wants to load into the game. A BSA file cannot be loaded into the game unless an ESP or ESM file (plugin) tells Skyrim to load it.

Not every mod has a plugin, though. Some just have folders of textures, scripts, or anything else that it wants loaded. These are known as loose files. Unlike BSA files, loose files can be loaded into the game without a plugin telling them to. For instance, Skyrim - Textures.bsa contains all of your vanilla textures. If you install a texture replacer for iron swords, it'll probably just have a folder containing the iron sword texture. If the folder is put in the right place with the right file name, Skyrim will know to load it. The iron sword texture from that mod will be loaded instead of the iron sword texture from Skyrim - Textures.bsa. Loose files will ALWAYS get loaded over top of BSA files.

Now let's talk about how we're going to manage these files. Mod Organizer is the cleanest, most versatile way of handling mods. We'll refer to it as MO from now on. When you install mods with MO, the mods don't actually install into your Data folder. MO makes a pseudo Data folder for that mod. This pseudo Data folder only contains the contents of that mod. Every mod installed via MO has their own folder like this. You tell MO which mods to load, and it loads up those pseudo Data folders along with the real one. As far as Skyrim is concerned, all of the mods are in the real Data folder. The advantage of this is that in order to uninstall a mod, you just have to tell MO not to load it. That pseudo Data folder simply won't be loaded. Your real Data folder will remain clean forever.

Another advantage of MO is that you can set it to automatically extract all BSA files into their loose folders. This way, you can see each individual file that your mods are overwriting. You can even see when two mods are trying to overwrite the same file. This gives you complete control of which mod "wins." If two mods are trying to replace the iron dagger texture, you get to pick which one gets loaded. Just tell MO to load your favorite one last.

MO does have some disadvantages, though. Since your mods aren't actually in the Data folder, your tools won't know that these mods exist unless MO tells them that they do. You'll have to run all of your tools through MO so that MO can tell your tools that the mods are there. Also, MO uses it's own settings files. So when a mod tells you to change something in your skyrim.ini or skyrimprefs.ini, yours will be in a different place. You'll have to remember to edit the correct one.

Alright, ready to start using it? Let's begin.

1. Download and install Mod Organizer in your Modding Tools folder. Be sure to check the box for "Handle Nexus Links" during installation.
2. Run MO and select your Skyrim game directory as the game to manage.
3. Click on the wrench and screwdriver icon in the top toolbar.
4. Under the "Nexus" tab, check "Automatically Log-In to Nexus" and enter your Nexus info.
5. Hit the "Associate with 'Download with manager' links."
6. Under the "Plugins" tab, select the "BSA Extractor" plugin and set enabled to true.
7. Under the "Workarounds" tab, change the NMM version to 0.52.2 and hit "Back-date BSAs."
8. Go to your MO install directory and run nxmhandler.exe.
9. Select "Register Active" and hit OK.
MO is now setup to install mods from Nexus. Now let's install your first mod. This first one is essential and gives you practice with all of your mod installation skills. It's the Skyrim Script Extender, or SKSE for short. This mod reports more game info for your mods to use. This is one of those rare mods that has files that go into both the main Skyrim directory and Data folder. Pay attention to how we handle it.
10. Download the SKSE .7z archive, NOT the installer, and extract it somewhere using 7zip or WinRAR. Inside, you will see a directory that looks like this:

Data (folder)
src (folder)

All of this is supposed to go into your main Skyrim directory, but remember: MO lets us keep our Data folder vanilla forever. So we'll install the Data folder stuff with MO.

11. Move everything but the Data folder to Steam/SteamApps/common/Skyrim/.
12. Go back to that Data folder that you left behind. Inside you will find a folder named "scripts."
13. Right click on the scripts folder and archive it into a .7z or .rar file using 7zip or WinRAR. Name it SKSE.
14. Make a folder for all of your manually downloaded mods. I'm using C:/Games/Manually Downloaded Mods.
15. Move the SKSE archive that you just made into your Manually Downloaded Mods folder.
16. In MO, click the top left icon in the toolbar. It looks like a CD in front of a box.
17. Point it to the SKSE archive you just made and hit OK.
The Data folder portion of SKSE has just been installed with MO. Let's take a look. Right click on SKSE in the left hand pane of MO and select "Open in explorer." Here you can see the pseudo Data folder that MO created for SKSE. It contains the scripts that would have gone in your real Data folder. The real Data folder still gets to stay clean ;)
18. Restart MO and you'll see that SKSE has become the default option for MO to run. Go ahead and click the "Run" button.
As you can see, this started your Skyrim game with SKSE. This is going to be the way you start Skyrim from now on.
19. Click on the SKSE version number in MO to change it from the install date to the current version. The current version is 1.7.1 as of this publication.

6. Patch Your Game
Skyrim is pretty awful with memory allocation. Luckily the modding community has it covered.

The first patch we're going to install is "Sheson's Memory Patch." This patch makes Skyrim's memory blocks bigger. It's useful because if the memory blocks become full, Skyrim usually crashes trying to make another. This patch is already integrated into SKSE; we just have to activate it. To activate it, we'll be using an INI file. INI files are text files full of settings. Because we're activating this patch with SKSE, you should not use SSME. It is the same patch.
1. In MO, hit the globe icon in the toolbar. This will take you to Nexus and finish the process of getting your "Download with Manager" button to work.
2. Download the SKSE.ini in the downloads section of this guide. Use the "Download with Manager" button.
3. It will show up in the "Downloads" tab of the right-hand panel of MO. Double click to install.
4. Rename it from "Modding Beginners Guide" to "SKSE ini."
Sheson's memory patch is now activated. The next patch we'll use is ENBoost. This moves your processes from RAM to VRAM because VRAM is faster. Any processes that don't fit in the VRAM are executed in the RAM. This will help out with the 3.1GB RAM cap that 32 bit applications have.
5. Download the latest ENBSeries.
The download button is in a dumb place. First, click on the latest version number (0.264 as of Oct 2, 2014). The download button is at the very bottom of the version page.
6. Extract it with 7zip or WinRAR and open the "WrapperVersion" folder.
7. Take the d3d9.dll, enbhost.exe, and enblocal.ini files and place them in Steam/SteamApps/common/Skyrim/.
8. Open enblocal.ini with Notepad or Notepad++ (preferred) and set the following values:

This setting disables everything in ENB except ENBoost. If you decide later on that you want to use an ENB, set this to false, install your favorite preset, and head over to my Speed and Stability Guide for ENB.
You only NEED it to be set to 64. Users have seen better performance with it being set to 256 or 512. Only set to 512 if you have at least a 2GB graphics card.
You only NEED it set to (VRAM - 128). Users have seen better performance with (RAM + VRAM - 2048). 1GB=1024.
False if you experience stuttering.
Because it keeps guessing wrong.
Set to the iMaxAnisotropy value in your skyrimprefs.ini located in Mod Organizer/profiles/Default/.
True if you experience stuttering and can take the FPS hit.

DO NOT download ENBoost from Nexus. What you've just installed is a more updated version.

9. Go to Mod Organizer/profiles/Default.
10. Open skyrimprefs.ini with Notepad or Notepad++ (preferred) and set the following values:

Set this to 1 AFTER you set MaxAnisotropy in enblocal.ini to this setting's original value.

11. Go to your Nvidia Control Panel or Catalyst Control Center and turn vsync and anisotropic filtering to "application controlled" for Skyrim.
Intel graphics users are already configured correctly by default.

You now have the memory patches needed to have fun with high end mods.

7. Install Nexus Mods
Now we're getting somewhere! We can install the mods that YOU want now.
Let's practice with the Unofficial patches. Pretty much every mod assumes that you have these installed.

1. Download the Unofficial Skyrim Patch via MO and install.
2. If you have these DLC, download the unofficial patches for Dawnguard, HearthFires, Dragonborn, and the Hi Res DLC.
DO NOT install unofficial patches for DLC that you do not have installed.

Remember when I said that plugins contain info that changes the way the game works? Well, plugins can, and do conflict like the contents of the BSA files. However, the correct order of these is not a matter of user preference. They have to be in a specific order for your game to function properly. It's no longer deciding which iron dagger texture gets loaded. It's determining what worldspace edit to make or which script to run. In order to determine the load order of our plugins, we'll be using LOOT again. Remember that LOOT will not know that these mods exist unless it's run within MO.

3. In MO, click on the green and blue gears icon in the taskbar.
4. Click the "..." button next to "Binary" and point it to your LOOT.exe file.
5. Change the title to LOOT and untick "Close MO when started."
6. Hit "Add," then "Close."
7. Take a look at the load order under the "Plugins" tab in the right-side panel of MO. This is wrong. LOOT will fix it.
8. In the drop down menu of programs next to the "Run" button, you should now have a button for LOOT. Select it and hit Run.
9. Click "Sort Plugins" and then "Apply" when it's finished.
10. After reviewing the report, take a look at the new order of the "Plugins" tab. Everything is now in the correct order.

The left panel of MO shows the loose file load order. Whenever you see a lightning bolt with a plus or minus sign under the "Flags" column, this means that there are mods fighting over which one gets the last overwrite on files. Take a look at the Unofficial Skyrim Patch. There is a lightning bolt under the Flags column for this mod. To see the conflicting files, double click on the Unofficial Skyrim Patch and look at the "Conflicts" tab. You will see which files are conflicting, which mods are "fighting," and which mod "wins." For the sake of matching the plugin load order with the loose file load order, let's rearrange the loose file order to match the Plugin load order. When you're done, your left panel should look like this:

SKSE ini
Unofficial Skyrim Patch
Unofficial Dawnguard Patch
Unofficial Hearthfire Patch
Unofficial Dragonborn Patch
Unofficial High Resolution Patch

And your Plugins tab should look like this:

Unofficial Skyrim Patch.esp
Unofficial Dawnguard Patch.esp
Unofficial Hearthfire Patch.esp
Unofficial Dragonborn Patch.esp
Unofficial High Resolution Patch.esp

In the Plugins tab, next to the Hi Res DLC related things, there are broom icons. This indicates that the plugins are dummy files. Remember when I said that BSA files can only get loaded into the game if a plugin tells Skyrim to load them? Well dummy plugins are plugins that only exist to tell Skyrim to load their BSA file. They have no game-altering content of their own. MO can tell Skyrim to load these files instead of the dummy plugin, so we can turn the plugins off. Just make sure that the archives are checked under the "Archives" tab. This is helpful because you're only allowed to have 255 plugins for Skyrim. Any plugins that can be turned off should be turned off.

Run LOOT again. This time, let's take a look at the report. LOOT reports are a great troubleshooting tool. Take a look at "Unofficial Skyrim Patch.esp" in the Details tab. There are green tags for it (Delev, Names, Relev, Stats). These tags are for you merge info from your plugins into one giant list. This allows things like NPCs wearing custom leveled armor. We'll implement these green tags using a Bashed Patch from Wrye Bash.

11. Download the installer version of Wrye Bash and install it to your Modding Tools folder.
12. Add Wrye Bash to the list of tools to run in MO the same way you did for LOOT.
13. Run Wrye Bash via MO and find "Bashed Patch, 0.esp" at the bottom of your plugins list.
14. Right click it and select "Rebuild Patch" followed by "Build Patch."
15. Hit OK, activate the bashed patch, and close Wrye Bash.

Wrye Bash created our Bashed Patch, but it has made it in our "overwrite" folder. You can tell because in MO, the "Overwrite" row in our left hand panel has red lettering. There is also a warning symbol in the top right corner of MO. Clicking on it will show that there are files in your overwrite mod. Things go in our overwrite mod if a file gets installed any other way than you installing it with MO. We don't like things in our overwrite mod. Let's get it out of there.

16. Right click on "Overwrite" and select "Create Mod."
17. Name it "Bashed Patch" and activate it in your mod list.

Your overwrite file is now empty. The bashed patch got moved into a regular mod slot. Let's take a look at what happens when we rebuild the patch. You will have to rebuild your Bashed Patch every time you add or remove a mod that LOOT gives a green tag suggestion.

18. Reopen Wrye Bash and rebuild the Bashed Patch.

Look! There's another Bashed Patch in your Overwrite mod. If you restart MO, you can also see that there is now a gray lightning bolt in the Flags column of your Bashed Patch mod. A gray lighting bolt means that every single file of that mod is being overwritten by other mods. This makes sense because we just made a new Bashed Patch. We want to use this more updated Bashed Patch instead of the one we installed earlier. Let's take care of that.

19. Right click on "Overwrite" and select "Create Mod."
20. Name it "Bashed Patch" and a popup will appear that there's already a mod with that same name.
21. To fix this, double click on Overwrite. You will find the updated Bashed Patch, 0.esp file. Drag it to the "Bashed Patch" mod in the left panel.
22. Select "Move and Replace" in the following popup.
You have successfully updated your Bashed Patch.

8. Practice Installing Your Average Mod
We've been doing some of the most complicated stuff you'll be doing as a mod user.
Sorry about that. It was all necessary in order to have a good base to start installing mods with.
Let's practice installing average, every day mods.

Let's install some mods to make it so that you can change your character's name and appearance at any time. This way, you can still use your Clean Save to start new games AND have different characters every time.

1. Download and install RaceMenu using the "Download with Manager" button.
Notice that popup that says that SKSE is required? Aren't you glad we installed that first?
2. Download and install ShowRaceMenu Alternative using the "Download with Manager" button.
3. Activate both of these mods in the left panel of MO.
There are now 3 new plugins in your Plugins tab. We know that we should use LOOT to sort the order of these.
4. Run LOOT via MO and sort plugins.

The LOOT report didn't give any green tag suggestions for these mods so we don't have to rebuild our Bashed Patch. The left panel of MO doesn't show any file conflicts between these mods and anything else, so the loose file order doesn't matter. Both our plugins and loose files are in order. Let's see how the mods work in-game.

5. Run SKSE via MO to start playing.
6. Load up your Clean Save. You should have a new power named "ShowRaceMenu Alternative." Use it and select "Open race menu."
You can now edit your character's race, sex, appearance, and name. This allows you to make new characters and still use your Clean Save to start new games.
7. When you're done editing your character, save the game to a new slot. Remember, we don't want to overwrite our Clean Save.
8. Open up MO again.
Uh oh. It looks like there are files in Overwrite again. Let's find out what they are.
9. Double click on Overwrite to see what files went in there.
It looks like it's just an empty cache folder. RaceMenu must have used it while you were editing your character.
10. Delete the folders in Overwrite because they're not necessary.
Look at all of this progress we're making! You're able to install the mods you want, use them effectively, and manage them properly. You're already ahead of half of Nexus.

9. Practice Messing Up
As a mod user, you're going to mess up. It's kind of our thing. Let's find out how to fix it.

Alright, let's practice installing something that you shouldn't. We're doing this so that you can see what happens and how to fix it.

1. Download Audio Overhaul for Skyrim 2 using the "Download with Manager" button.
This is actually a fantastic mod. We're just going to install it incorrectly to see what happens.
2. While installing, install the patch for Pure Weather.
We both know that you don't have Pure Weather, but install the patch anyway.
3. Activate Audio Overhaul for Skyrim 2 in the left panel.
In your plugins tab, you'll see two new plugins. Notice that "Pureweather_AOS2 Patch.esp" has a warning flag next to it. If you hover your mouse over the warning flag, you'll see "Missing Masters: Pureweather.esp." This is warning you that "Pureweather_AOS2 Patch.esp" needs "Pureweather.esp" to function. You don't have Pure Weather so you don't have Pureweather.esp. Let's pretend that we missed this warning. The next step after installing a new mod is to use LOOT. Let's do that.
4. Run LOOT via MO and sort plugins.
5. Look at "Pureweather_AOS2 Patch.esp" in the LOOT report.
Once again, you'll get a warning "Error: This plugin requires 'Pureweather.esp' to be installed, but it is missing." But once again, we'll ignore it. We don't have any green tag suggestions so we don't need to rebuild our Bashed Patch. We're ready to play.
6. Run SKSE via MO to start your game.
Look at that. It crashed right after the logo. I guess we should have listened when it said we needed "Pureweather.esp." So now let's fix it. We can either run the AOS2 installer again, uncheck the patch plugin from the Plugins tab, or install Pure Weather. It's really your choice. Let's keep AOS2 installed for the next demonstration. Just don't keep the patch without having Pure Weather.
7. Fix it.

10. Practice Picking A Loose File Order
So far, we haven't had to mess with our loose file load order that much.
The three mods that we've installed don't have any loose file conflicts.
Let's get one that does.

1. Download and install Immersive Sounds - Compendium using the "Download with Manager" button.
2. Don't forget to install the Audio Overhaul for Skyrim patch during install.
3. Make sure that both Immersive Sounds and AOS are activated in your left panel.
With both mods active, you'll see lightning bolts appear in the "Flags" column for these two mods. Let's find out which files are conflicting.
4. Double click on Immersive Sounds - Compendium.
Under the "Conflicts" tab, you'll see that Immersive Sounds is overwriting two of AOS's files. We have to decide whether to have Immersive Sounds or AOS "win."
5. Look at the compatibility section of the Immersive Sounds Nexus page.
As it turns out, Immersive Sounds has been made with AOS in mind. The author says to just have Immersive Sounds overwrite AOS. Therefore, we should leave Immersive Sounds lower on the left panel of MO than AOS. If we wanted AOS to overwrite Immersive Sounds, we would drag Immersive Sounds higher than AOS in the left panel.
6. Sort your plugins with LOOT to keep your plugin load order up to date.

11. Practice Installing Mods With Incorrect File Trees And Dirty Edits
As you know, MO creates pseudo Data folders for all of your mods.
But what if a mod is uploaded with an incorrect file tree? Let's take a look.
Also, sometimes mods have dirty edits just like the master files. We'll fix that too.

1. Download and install Ethereal Elven Overhaul using the "Download with Manager" button.
I love this mod. We just need to fix it up a bit.
You will get an error that says "No game data on top level." This Means that it was uploaded to Nexus with the wrong file tree. We have to fix this. In the popup, you'll see this file tree:

>READ ME.txt

As you can see, the DATA folder is supposed to be the Data folder used for this mod.

2. Right click on the DATA folder and select "Set data directory."
The message now says "Looks good" so you are ready to install.
3. Finish installing and activate the mod.
4. Run LOOT via MO and look at "ethereal_elven_overhaul.esp" in the Details tab of the report.
You'll see a warning that says "Warning: Contains 6 ITM records. Clean with TES5Edit."
5. Add TES5Edit to MO the same way you did LOOT and Wrye Bash.
6. Run TES5Edit via MO and clean ethereal_elven_overhaul.esp the same way that you did Update.esm.

12. Practice Installing Mods With Disordered Masters
Remember saying that LOOT helps determine the right plugin order?
Having the right load order is important. Mods that require multiple masters also need the correct load order.
We're going to take a look at a mod that has an incorrect load order on its dependencies.
Sorry non-Dawnguard and Dragonborn users, but you're going to have to sit this one out.

1. Download and install Enhanced Better Sorting. Be sure to check the "Ammo" module.
2. Activate it and run LOOT.
Everything looks normal so far, but what happens when we look in Wrye Bash?
3. Run Wrye Bash via MO.
The EBS - ammo.esp has an orange check box. Looking in the "Masters:" section of the right panel, you can see that it's expecting to load Dawnguard.esm and Dragonborn.esm before Update.esm. We know that this is wrong. Let's fix that.
4. Run TES5Edit via MO and only check EBS - Ammo.esp.
5. When it's finished loading, right click on EBS - Ammo.esp and select "Sort Masters."
6. Exit TES5Edit and save.
EBS - Ammo.esp's expected load order will now match our actual load order.

13. Acknowledge The Downside Of MO
Remember that your tools will have no idea that any of your mods are installed unless MO says they are.
This extends to your mods.

1. Download and install SkyUI.
You'll get a big popup warning from Skyui's installer saying that the SKSE scripts are missing. We know that they're not missing. They're just not in the real Data folder.
2. Ignore the warning and install anyway.
3. Activate and run LOOT.
What? You expected more?

14. Optimize Your Textures
Converting your textures to more efficient formats is a great free source of FPS.
This portion of the guide is coming almost directly from the STEP project. Go thank them when you get the chance.
Yes, I know about Optimizer Textures and SMCO. No, I will not be discussing them.
However, My Skyrim folder shrank 2.69 GB from optimizing the vanilla textures and compressing their BSAs alone.

None of the tools in this section need to be run through MO. We're changing the files in their real directories. We don't have to trick the tools into thinking they're in the Data folder.

1. I've made optimized versions of the vanilla textures for you. You can download them here.
2. Download all of the full or lite modules of Skyrim HD - 2K Textures using the "Download with Manager" button.
3. Install all of them and select "Merge" during the "Mod Exists" popup.
4. Make a folder directory that looks like this somewhere. I chose C:/Games/:
These folder names must match exactly.

>Mod Extracted
>>Skyrim HD - 2K Textures
This is where your HD2K textures will be placed to be optimized.

5. Right click on Skyrim HD - 2K Textures in the left panel of MO and select "Open in explorer."
6. Copy the textures folder and paste it into the "Skyrim HD - 2K Textures" folder that you made in your Working directory.
7. Extract these batch files into your "Working" folder.
Your Working folder should now contain those batch files and your "Mod Extracted" folder.
6. Run "4_Mod_Sorting_Pre-optimization_2.75.bat" and click any buttons it tells you to until it closes itself.
Yes, we do want to separate exterior textures.
You will now have the following new folders in your Working directory:

Mod Body Textures
Mod Exterior Normal Maps
Mod Exterior Textures
Mod Normal Maps
Mod Ordinary Textures

These don't all necessarily have files in them. For instance, Skyrim HD - 2K Textures doesn't have any Body Textures. That folder will be empty.

7. Download and install DDSopt - pre-release - update 4 to your Modding Tools folder.
8. Copy these lines of code and replace the contents of your DDSopt.ini with them.
9. Start DDSopt and change the game to Skyrim in the "Game" tab.
10. Hit the "Browse" button next to ".\in," point it to Working/Mod Exterior Normal Maps/, and hit "Use Folder."
11. Hit the "Browse" button next to ".\out," point it to Working/Mod Optimized/, and hit "Use Folder."
12. In the "Ignore" menu, untick "Copy unprocessed and ignored files (passthrough)."
13. In the "Constraints" tab, change all of the file types to lossless and set both Resolution-limits to your preference.
Personally, I use these Resolution-limits:

Mod Body Textures - 2048x2048
Mod Exterior Normal Maps - 1024x1024
Mod Exterior Textures - 1024x1024
Mod Normal Maps - 2048x2048
Mod Ordinary Textures - 2048x2048

14. Tick "Show Recursive" in the "Browser" tab and hit "Process."
15. Repeat steps 10-14 for each of these folders.
16. Go to Working/Mod Optimized/Skyrim HD - 2K Textures/ and copy the textures folder.
17. Paste it back into MO's Skyrim HD - 2K Textures' pseudo Data folder to replace the originals. Overwrite when asked.
18. Delete the folders in your Working directory.

You have now optimized Skyrim HD - 2K Textures. You can optimize as many mods as you want at a time. Just give them their own folders under "Mod Extracted."
All mods that you want to optimize need to have loose files. DDSopt cannot optimize BSA files.

15. Do What You Want!
You now have all the tools and understanding you need to be a successful mod user!
Go on and download whatever mods you want. Upload screenshots of your game here. I want to see what you've done ;)
This guide is a work in progress. Save game cleaning will be coming next.