How to Remove the Compass and Crosshair in Skyrim

Updated on June 28, 2016
One of my favorite screenshots. Much better without the compass or crosshair.
One of my favorite screenshots. Much better without the compass or crosshair.

The compass and crosshair are the only two elements of the HUD (heads-up display) that are visible in Skyrim all of the time. While they can be very useful tools, for many serious role-players who like to give themselves a bit of a challenge, they are a source of distraction and annoyance.

This mini-tutorial will show you how to disable the crosshair and compass to improve your immersion, or simply to take better screenshots.

Skyrim's default setting is to have a compass in the top center and crosshair in the center of the screen.
Skyrim's default setting is to have a compass in the top center and crosshair in the center of the screen.

Removing the Crosshair

Skyrim allows you to remove the crosshair by changing a setting in-game, which is very convenient.

To remove the crosshair, just open the System menu by pressing Esc (on default settings), then go to Settings, Display and scroll down to the Crosshair option. To enable or disable the crosshair, just select it.

You can disable the crosshair in the System -  Settings -  Display menu.
You can disable the crosshair in the System - Settings - Display menu.
The crosshair is now gone.
The crosshair is now gone.

The Sneak Crosshair Icon

Note that this only removes the regular crosshair, the small four-pointing arrow that you see when you walk around normally. The sneak icon, which looks like a line-drawing of an eye that opens and closes as enemies become more or less aware of you, is not affected by this change.

The sneak crosshair is special because it is animated and interacts with the game instead of being a more or less static fixture of the HUD. I don't know how to disable it yet, but I will update this hub as soon as I do.

Only On the PC Version

You can only edit the SkryimPrefs.ini file if you are playing the PC version of Skryim.

Removing the Compass Using the SkyrimPrefs.ini File

To disable the compass, you need to edit the SkyrimPrefs.ini file as the game does not have a setting to disable it in-game. The SkyrimPrefs.ini is located in your game folder, not your Skyrim executable folder. Typically, this is Documents/My Games/Skyrim/.

After making a backup (always, always, always keep a backup!), open the SkyrimPrefs.ini and look (or search) for this section:

[Interface]
bDialogueSubtitles=0
bGeneralSubtitles=0
bShowCompass=1

You want to change the last setting, bShowCompass to 0, like so:

[Interface]
bDialogueSubtitles=0
bGeneralSubtitles=0
bShowCompass=0

This will disable the compass so you will no longer be able to use it. If you want to restore the compass, just change bShowCompass back to 1 and resave.

(You can also enable and disable subtitles here. They are off by default in Skyrim.)

Now both the compass and the crosshair are gone.
Now both the compass and the crosshair are gone.

Removing the Crosshair Using the SkyrimPrefs.ini File

Incidentally, you can also disable the crosshair in the SkyrimPrefs.ini file by changing the bCrosshairEnabled setting from 1 to 0. Here is the default:

[MAIN]
bGamepadEnable=0
bCrosshairEnabled=1

And here's what your .ini file should look like after the change:

[MAIN]
bGamepadEnable=0
bCrosshairEnabled=0

Note that you will still be able to re-enable the crosshair in game.

These HUD elements can be enabled and disabled independently, so, if you like the crosshair but don't like the compass, you can just disable the compass and leave the crosshair.

It's hard to see in this picture, so I've circled it in red.

You can enable and disable separately. In this screenshot, only the crosshair is enabled.
You can enable and disable separately. In this screenshot, only the crosshair is enabled.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Yrvilore 3 months ago

        I can't find the compass option the file. The subtitles are there. How?

      • profile image

        Guten 3 years ago

        I actually used this to enable compass after it disappeared for no apparent reason. Thanks!

      • j-u-i-c-e profile image
        Author

        j-u-i-c-e 5 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @SkyrimGal: Sounds like you have your HUD opacity turned all the way down. Check your System Settings and make sure it's not all the way to the left.

      • profile image

        SkyrimGal 5 years ago

        Please help me out somebody, everything disappeared from my screen in Skyrim. No dialogue or map or cross.. I don't know what I have pressed but when I press on the cross in the settings section it does not appear back.

      • profile image

        Argonian Man 5 years ago

        on xbox just change the hud opacity (see throughness to zero.)

      • profile image

        alividlife 6 years ago

        Just wanted to quickly mention with Screenshots.

        The best way to take a screenshot is to type into console

        TFC 1

        ToggleFreeCamera "1" allows you to move about the screen while everything is "paused" in realtime. In conjunction with TM (or ToggleMenu) you can take almost whatever type of screenshot you want in your own sweet time.

      • j-u-i-c-e profile image
        Author

        j-u-i-c-e 6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @skyrimfan: You can also just turn down the opacity in the Display settings. The problem is that it removes the other HUD elements as well, like Health/Magicka bars, notifications about quest updates, etc. I need to rewrite the article to make that a little clearer. Thanks for reading.

      • profile image

        skyrimfan 6 years ago

        I think you can avoid all that.

        Just go to the console with ~ and type tm and hit enter. Then hit ~ again to leave the console. All interface should be gone. I think you do it again to get it back.

      • j-u-i-c-e profile image
        Author

        j-u-i-c-e 6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @billymad: Yeah, it's pretty confusing the first time you try to make any changes!

      • profile image

        billymad1977 6 years ago

        I had that problem and couldn't find the line in the skyrimPrefs.ini. Than I noticed I was in skyrim main file and not in my documents where your saved games are located. Guess the game keeps a backup of a similar file in the main folder which has the same name.

      • profile image

        D1kk3N 6 years ago

        Thanks, easy and quick to the point!

      • profile image

        NooDLe 6 years ago

        Cheers for that buddy :3

      • j-u-i-c-e profile image
        Author

        j-u-i-c-e 6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @NooDLe: If there is no bShowCompass entry, you can add it manually. Just copy it from the article and paste it in the location shown. Make sure you're adding it to the SkyrimPrefs.ini in your My Games folder. There are lots of ini files, so make sure you use the right one. And ALWAYS make a backup of this file before editing it.

      • profile image

        NooDLe 6 years ago

        I've opened my ini file, but there's no ShowCompass entry :S Please help!

      • j-u-i-c-e profile image
        Author

        j-u-i-c-e 6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Ray VN: You're welcome!

      • profile image

        Ray VN 6 years ago

        Much appreciated

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