How to Change the Timescale in Skyrim

Skyrim is just begging for screenshots. Now you can enjoy those beautiful vistas for longer by changing how fast time moves.
Skyrim is just begging for screenshots. Now you can enjoy those beautiful vistas for longer by changing how fast time moves.

PC Version Only

Unfortunately, you can only use the console on the PC version of Skyrim. Which is why you should buy that version instead of a PS3 or X360 version. :)

Skyrim time moves a little more quickly than real time. For every minute that passes in real life, 20 minutes pass in Skyrim. If you find this to be a little fast or a little slow, you can change it by changing the timescale. Learn how in the article below.

Change the Timescale

To change the timescale, open the in-game console by pressing the tilde key '~' (it's on the top left corner of standard North American keyboards).

Once the console is open, type the following and press Enter: set timescale to 10

When you are done, press the tilde '~' key again to close the console. This will set the in-game time to 10 minutes for every minute of real time that passes.

You can set the time to any length you want by changing 10 to any other number. I set mine to five, because I enjoy a little more realism—but setting it to one can make things tedious.

Set it for Each Character You Create

Once you have changed your timescale, Skyrim will remember it between sessions so you don't have to reset it every time you play. If you play with a different character or go back to an old save from before you set the timescale, you will have to set it for these other saves as well.

I set the timescale every time I finish making a new character. Every save you make based on that initial save will have your custom timescale.

Of course, you can also make time pass more quickly. Great for those boring sermons.
Of course, you can also make time pass more quickly. Great for those boring sermons.

Possible Unintended Side Effects

Whenever you make a change like this to a game, there is always the chance that it will have unintended consequences.

In Oblivion, for example, when you set the timescale too low, it would prevent a certain quest from advancing. You could fix this by resetting the timescale to the default value (30 in Oblivion) until you are done the quest and then reset it back to your preferred time. That should work for Skyrim as well if you encounter a similar issue.

Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be other consequences for Skyrim. However, I've been setting my timescale for Oblivion and Fallout 3 for years and never had a single issue with it and have had it set to 5 for Skyrim for over 30 hours of play without issue.

If you do encounter any issues, please leave me a comment so I can update this hub.

Update: Timescale 0 or 1 Is Bad

Since I've had a couple of commenters share their woes of setting a timescale to 0, I'm just going to add it to the article:

Don't set your timescale to 0 or 1.

Timescale 0 means you want each minute of real time to equal 0 minutes of game time (or vice versa). It doesn't work, and just breaks things.

I've also heard from a couple of people on the forums that setting your timescale to one can result in problems as well. These problems aren't as serious, but they can result in delays in AI processing and quest triggering, so it's probably best to avoid setting it to one as well.

So far, I haven't heard of anyone having any problems with a timescale of two, so that is probably the lowest safe cut-off point. As always, let me know if you have any problems or advice to share.

Showing the Current Timescale

You can view the current timescale by opening the console and typing: show timescale

This can be handy if things seem to be a little off and you want to make sure it isn't your timescale messing things up.

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Comments 22 comments

ladyonthemoon 3 years ago

Timescale has less to do with time than with distances. The closer to real time the timescale is, the smaller Skyrim gets. I think 20 is too small, 30 would be better given the size fo the map.

PCGAM3R 4 years ago

Umm for the fun of it I set timescale to 85 000 and left it until like 100 days passed within like 3 mins and then set it to default and everuthing is fine :)

Good Smith 4 years ago

I have been playing 1:2 for a while without any problems. When you take the game slowly I don't think 1:2 would break things. However, I get bored with this timescale, specially when I spend time looking at my inventory, reading books and buying/selling (time freezes during these scenes), so I guess I will pump it to 1:3 or 1:4 and see how it feels. I really don’t want to rush things in the game.

GoodSmith 4 years ago

timescale of 0 means the time in the game remains still and doesn't move forward. If it's 3 PM it will always be 3 PM for ever (until you change the timescale to something greater than 0). NPCs would still interact with you and life goes on in the game, but any quests or events depending on the time will not work.

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Douglas: Even if that's the case, I'm not sure how that would be useful...unless you're doing time-lapse videos.

Douglas 4 years ago

Hey Juice. You are wrong. The maximum value is at least 10000

Ender 4 years ago

@j-u-i-c-e yeah it does go back to positives though after you make it roll into negatives if you rest one or two days it will jump back to negatives :P. So i would definitely agree. Im going to do a hole lot more playing with it, mostly i just wont a way to make things repopulate faster without giving my self items or a huge advantage and with out causing glitches. In Oblivion i was able to use a MOD to change the Scale when you sleep from hours to days witch was most helpful.

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Ender: The timescale probably has a maximum value; anything above that value will cause it to 'roll over' into negative numbers (and eventually back into positive ones again). It has to do with the way memory is stored in computers. My guess is the maximum is 255 or 256 though I've never tested it. Remember: 1 min of game time = the number you set in minutes, so a value of 90 would mean that an hour and half passes for every minute you play. That's probably too high for most people. The default is 20, so 3 minutes of play = an hour.

Ender 4 years ago

SO i set my time Scale to 400 to find out what would happen. my Day went to negative idk if there is a way to fix that but at 4000 time scale you can travel a small distance and have many many days pass. though after i did this a few times and the dates went to negatives this stop responing

Lunden 4 years ago

@j-u-i-c-e: Yeah, if you wait long enough I assume they will continue as normally. But it can still be annoying when the problem arises, especially in that quest since you are guided by a gang of NPCs through a dungeon (you don't have your items available to you at that moment). So they move over a long distance with very intricate pathing, rendering the experience less than amusing when it takes significantly longer time (at least in that specific quest).

Otherwise I haven't experienced any problems with having the timescale set to 5. No graphical one nor any quest-, or interaction-related ones.

With best regards from a Skyrim-looking Sweden!

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Lunden: I haven't played that quest but I have noticed some 'hesitation' at times when NPCs tell me they're going to lead me somewhere or go on ahead of me. Usually, they'll start up if I talk to them again or wait a few moments. I don't know if it's related, but it's certainly a good thing to keep in mind. Thanks for giving us the heads-up.

Lunden 4 years ago

Hi, I've experienced some scripting problems with the timescale set to 5 as you suggested. Particularly with the quest "No One Escapes Cidhna Mine" in Markarth. When talking to the Forsworn leader after having killed Grisvald, he gathers his men and escape through a tunnel to Markarth Ruins.

When having the timescale set to 5 the scripting sequences of him walking from his table to gather the men, and after that when moving to the exit takes an unusual amount of time or does not complete. He stops at certain places (a corner for example) and does not move for an extended period of time.

After loading a previous save and reverting the timescale to 20 (which I think is the default value) I was able to "fix" the scripted sequences. The difference was huge. However, it is quite possible that the sequences would have completed, but in a timeframe that is far longer than the intended one.

Bugs such as this one is obiviously not intended, and does not add to the role-playing experience since it is just dead time (great guide on the role-playing part you've written btw). Furthermore resting for an hour or two did not seem to decrease the waiting time.

Great guides!

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@will: Good to know. Thanks.

will 4 years ago

setting timescale to a very low value has another side effect: LOD shaders will not fade out when they should, which means you'll essentially see a lot of close up texture pop if you're moving.

andre 4 years ago

i put mine to 1.8 is good for real time and no probleme with game.

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Diced: I'm assuming just changing the timescale back to 20 and exiting/restarting didn't fix things. Do the graphical errors affect other saves, or is it just that one character? ie. will it affect a new game?

Diced 4 years ago

Yup, don't change timescale to 0, its bugs out a lot, you'll see ''black parts'' in the envoiroment, and some dungeons are all blackned, don't know if its because i fast traveled afterwards i did it. anyhow my time has completely froze, and there is nothing so far that can fixed, with my knowledge, will keep searching for some answers to fix it...

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

Thanks, pewpew. That's good to know. Let us know if you run into any problems at 1:3. I've been playing at 1:5 for dozens of hours without any problems.

pewpew 4 years ago

at timescale 1, Alduin, the black dragon at helgan, can't land on the tower, so you end up waiting forever in a buged cinematic.

at timescale 3, everything seams to work normal so far.

So 1 real minute is 3 minutes in game is the slowest it can get without bugs.

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j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

Well, timescale 0 is probably going to bork things for you. Try setting it to a different number. The default is 20, mine is set at 5. You can see your current timescale by opening the console and typing 'show timescale'. Remember: timescale means how many minutes of game time equals how many minutes of real time. At timescale 0, you've told the game that 1 minute of real time = 0 minutes of game time. Probably mess things up.

Meatsicle 4 years ago

K the time itself is normal but the player movement is still really fast... I move fast and so do the other 'Living thing' I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

Meatsicle 4 years ago

My Skyrim is messed... i hit the print screen button and the timescale is fast so i tried to reset it and nothings changing... i changed it to 0 and it's still fast... HELP!

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