The best Skyrim mods

Is Skyrim the most modded game of all time? It's definitely up there. There are some 55,000 mods out there, modders are still creating new, ambitious projects. Just about any change, tweak, and fix you can imagine has been made by some enterprising modder, along with hundreds of hours of original content, and there's no sign the modding well has dried up yet. It's an overwhelming number to sort through, which is why we're here to help.

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.

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.

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: Original, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Hearthfire, HD-DLC, and Legendary. 

Bethesda stopped patching Skyrim themselves ages ago, so the fan-made Unofficial Patch series has become more important than ever. The patches were built by a group of modders who update them as new problems are found. There's one for every piece of official DLC, including the official High Resolution textures and Legendary Edition. Pretty much a must-have.

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

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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

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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

Skymod

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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

Skymod

Download link

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

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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

Skymod

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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

Skymod

Download link 

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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