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The best Skyrim mods

Skyrim Console Commands

Skyrim Mod: Santa

(Image credit: Bethesda)

There's no need to play Skyrim as a humble warrior. Become a giant, fly, walk through walls, spawn any item you want, and even become Santa Claus with Skyrim console commands.

If you can imagine it, chances are there's a Skyrim mod for it. Skyrim is one of the most modded games of all time, with over 60,000 submissions on Nexus Mods and 28,000 in the Steam Workshop. Modders have created everything from tiny tweaks to entirely new campaigns to silly memes for Skyrim since its release in 2011. There's no sign of Skyrim modding slowing down now, with new mods still being created every day. It's an overwhelming number to sort through, which is why we're here to help find and install Skyrim mods.

This is our guide to the best Skyrim mods, sorted into categories that will make it easy for you to find what you're looking for. And if you're looking for Skyrim Special Edition mods, follow that link to our separate collection. Mods added in the latest update of this list have been marked with a ⭐. 

First up: some essential improvements.

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Patches, optimization, and UI

It's no secret Bethesda's RPGs can be more than a bit buggy. There are glitches, optimization problems, and in Skyrim's case, a UI designed for consoles. Thankfully, long after the official patches stopped rolling out modders remain devoted to making the game more stable and usable. Here are some mods that will improve your overall experience.

A Quality World Map ⭐ 

the best skyrim mods: a quality world map

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Skyrim's map is functional but boring. A Quality World Map offers multiple ways to fix it. You can replace the map with a much more detailed world texture, with colors that help delineate the separate areas much more obviously, but there's also an option to have a paper map with a more Oblivion look if that's your thing. 

Sky UI

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Skyrim's original UI is, well, terrible. SkyUI makes it easier to use, more pleasant to read, and much more useful for sorting through your loot and menus. Most importantly, SkyUI adds a mod configuration menu to the pause screen, letting you tweak and adjust compatible mods (including many on this list). A lot of mods don't require SkyUI and will run just fine without it, but you'll get much more out of your mods if you have it.

In other words, it's highly recommended.

Unofficial Skyrim Patches

Skyrim Mods - Unofficial Patch

Download links: Legendary, HD-DLC. 

Created by the same modders as the Unofficial Oblivion patches, the Unofficial Skyrim patches catch a huge amount of bugs the official patches don't. A lot of them are things you might never notice, like objects that were placed slightly wrong so they clip through each other or quests that break if you do something unusual, but it's still better to have them than not. There's one for the Legendary Edition and one for the official High Resolution textures patch.

Vendor Sale Delay - GONE

the best skyrim mods: vendor sale delay - gone

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This is a small mod, but it makes the game much less frustrating. Now instead of having to listen to the vendor dialogue before they’ll trade with you, the trade window opens up immediately while they give their speech about their junk—I mean “treasures.”

Realistic Humanoid Movement Speed

the best skyrim mods: realistic humanoid movement speed

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Sick of walking like a turtle and sprinting like a cheetah? This mod fixes the problem. Your movement speed is adjusted to more reasonable levels, from a brisk walk that lets you keep up with NPCs, to slower run speeds that make it challenging to escape from that cranky troll. Also eliminates “skating” from sneak running. 

Not So Fast

the best skyrim mods: not so fast

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Dragons returning is a pretty big deal, but the main questline feels like you’re on a runaway train at times. This mod helps you modify the order of events to a more reasonable pace. Not only can you get Breezehome when you hand in the Dragonstone, but you can also ignore the Civil War part altogether! Fully customizable through MCM.   

Project Optimization

Skyrim Mods Project Optimisation

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Project Optimization improves Skyrim performance by occlusion culling, which means not rendering effects you can't see. If you use a lot of serious lighting mods, like ENB and Realistic Lighting, then this mod can save you several frames per second.

Performance Textures

the best skyrim mods: performance textures

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This mod rezises and enhances the textures for armor, clothes, and weapons, making them both better looking while simultaneously making the file sizes smaller for improved performance. This is useful for users with low-end machines who still want to improve their graphics. The modder has done the same for animals and creatures.

Performance Plus

the best skyrim mods: performance plus

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Falling leaves and snow are pretty, but can sometimes cause FPS drops on older GPUs due to the size of the textures. Performance Plus decreases the fidelity of particles, which provides an FPS boost. In most cases, such as snow, it's barely noticeable, and the slight degrading of particle textures is more than made up for by an increase in performance.

The Choice is Yours

the best skyrim mods: the choice is yours

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Lets the player be way more in charge of what quests they want. Stops random auto-quest greetings from NPCs, stops books from giving auto-quests, and lets the player customize when they want to see certain quests become available. Full MCM support. Optimal experience paired with Timing Is Everything.

Better Dialogue Controls

Skyrim Mods Better Dialogue

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Using a keyboard and mouse for Skyrim means sometimes the game gets confused when you're selecting a dialogue option. You've noticed, surely, that sometimes when you choose a response the game thinks you've chosen a different one. Skyrim's dialogue controls are weird and clunky, and this mod completely and thankfully fixes that. The same modder also created one for message boxes.

Immersive HUD

the best skyrim mods: immersive hud

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You don't need your HUD onscreen all the time. This mod hides the crosshairs and status bars when you're not actively using them, such as outside combat. You can also toggle the compass and quest markers on and off with a keypress, and adjust their opacity.

HUD Clock

the best skyrim mods: hud clock

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On the other hand, sometimes you want a little more info on-screen. This widget adds a clock to your screen—with several different elegant and unobtrusive faces you can choose through SkyUI's mod configuration menu—so you can keep track of the time and date. The Dovahkiin's got a smartwatch.

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