Using BOSS and TES5Edit to optimise your Skyrim mods load order to improve game stability and reduce game crashes

Updated on April 22, 2015

Guide to using BOSS a plugin load order optimiser and TES5Edit a tool to clean mods for Skyrim to avoid mod conflicts

Hi and welcome to my latest hub on Elderscrolls V Skyrim. Today, I am going to look at how you can check your mod load order and how to ensure that all your mods load in the optimum order. An incorrect mod load order can cause performance issues, mod conflicts or even cause Skyrim to either not load at all or to crash to desktop (CTD) randomly.

Mods add so much to Skyrim: they improve the vanilla game including its graphics, add wonderful new content to it, fix bugs, create entirely new landmasses and quests and much more. For many (myself very much included) playing an Elderscrolls game without mods would be unthinkable.

Skyrim in game screenshot courtesy of Bethesda and Zenimax.
Skyrim in game screenshot courtesy of Bethesda and Zenimax.

Unfortunately, because they are all written by different authors you need to use tools to make sure that:

  • Mods do not conflict
  • The number of crashes is reduced as much as possible
  • Game performance is improved
  • All necessary patches are installed (authors will often make patches so that their mods will work well with other popular mods)
  • Any errors in mods are cleaned
  • Mods that make similar changes to the same object or objects do not overwrite each other and if they do, you have control over what gets overwritten

Today, we will look at using two tools, BOSS and TES5Edit to optimise your load order. First, let’s look at the load order itself.

  • Simply put, Skyrim loads all mods (including the actual game itself) in order starting at mod number 1 using the load order.
  • Mods lower down the list will potentially overwrite mods higher up the list (this is where conflicts can occur).
  • If you have more than one mod that changes the same thing, the mod lower in the order will have its changes added to the game).

You can see my initial load order in Mod Organizer below:

An example of a Skyrim load order shown in Mod Organiser.
An example of a Skyrim load order shown in Mod Organiser. | Source

Using Mod Management Software such as Mod Organizer and Nexus Mod Manager to easily organise, install, update and uninstall your Skyrim mods

Alongside BOSS and TES5Edit, I would thoroughly recommend using an installation manager to install, update, uninstall, categorise and tidy your mods.

You can of course install mods manually, which I cover in my extensive guide to installing mods yourself which can be found here.

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Beginners-Guide-on-how-to-manually-install-and-use-Elderscrolls-V-Skyrim-mods-downloaded-from-Nexus-or-other-websites

The advantage of installing mods manually is that you have far more control over exactly what is installed.

  • You can install the parts of mods you like (you might only like bits and pieces of a mod, for example an armour replacer mod)
  • When installing, you have far greater control when overwriting files

The Nexus Mod Manager interface.
The Nexus Mod Manager interface. | Source
The Mod Organiser interface.
The Mod Organiser interface. | Source

Should you choose to install your mods using installation management software, there are two main choices, Mod Organiser and Nexus Mod Manager.

Nexus Mod Manager:

  • Has an excellent interface with pre-built categories
  • Offers single click installation, un-installation and updating of mods
  • Is simple to use

My hub introducing Nexus Mod Manager can be found here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-use-Nexus-Mod-Manager-to-download-install-uninstall-and-manage-Skyrim-Oblivion-Morrowind-and-Witcher-2-mods

Mod Organiser:

  • Has advanced features such as profiles which allow you to have different mods and ini files set-up for different profiles
  • Installs mods into separate folders to reduce conflicts
  • Checks with Skyrim Nexus for available mod updates

My hub on Mod Organiser:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Mod-Organizer-an-advanced-Skyrim-utility-to-manage-install-detect-and-fix-mod-conflicts-and-update-all-your-mods

Using BOSS to optimise your load order in Skyrim

First, you need to download the latest version of BOSS from their website,

http://boss-developers.github.io/.

  • Install it and launch it via its icon.

When you first launch it, you may get the below error. If you see this error, launch Skyrim until you see the menu inviting you to start a new game and quit Skyrim.

To fix this error in BOSS, launch Skyrim until you get to the main menu, then click Quit.
To fix this error in BOSS, launch Skyrim until you get to the main menu, then click Quit. | Source

If you are using Mod Organizer, you need to add BOSS to it so that it can sort your load order (otherwise BOSS will not see any mods installed using Mod Organiser):

  • Click the Add Executable button
  • Select Edit

How to add BOSS and other executables to Mod Organizer.
How to add BOSS and other executables to Mod Organizer. | Source
  • Add a Title
  • Specify the Binary as BOSS by navigating to the folder on your computer that you installed BOSS into that contains BOSS.EXE
  • Click Add

You will now have BOSS added to your drop down list of executable files

  • If you are using Nexus Mod Manager or installing your mods manually, simply run BOSS from the Start Menu

BOSS now automatically updates itself, perform its checks, re-orders your mods and then opens up the results. It will present you with three tabs:

  • A summary, listing whether your plugins (mods) are recognized or unrecognized by BOSS, if there are any warnings, notes or errors about your plugins or any known patches missing
  • It will scan Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) if you use it to check it is up to date
  • Finally, it will have a tab for your Recognised Plugins (there may also be a tab for Unrecognised Plugins if any exist) which is the tab that we are really interested in

An example of the output once BOSS has scanned all your recognised mod plug ins.
An example of the output once BOSS has scanned all your recognised mod plug ins. | Source

What we are looking for on this tab are:

  • Mods that need cleaning (an example is Update.esm above)
  • Mods that have dependencies missing (Ars Metallica – Dawnguard is an example)
  • Mods that have missing patches (to allow them to work well with other specific mods)
  • Mods that have warnings (for example, “Use only one Height Adjusted Races*.esp”)

Note: the Bash Tag suggestions are for another application that can be used to create levelled lists known as Wyre Bash and can be safely ignored.

Now that we have a list of problems with our mods, first:

  • Disable any mods that are missing dependencies you don’t have or intend to install (so I would go to my game folder and delete Ars Metallica – Dawnguard as I don’t have Dawnguard installed)
  • Heed any warnings and take action if required (in many cases you may not need to take any action as the warnings are triggered by BOSS automatically)
  • Install any patches BOSS recommends and active the mods

Note: If you have an Unrecognised Plugins tab in BOSS, those mods will have to be placed in your load order manually. Use the mods readme files as a guide as to where in your order they should go.

When you launch Mod Organiser, Nexus Mod Manager or the Skyrim game launcher, you will notice that the load order has been updated by BOSS. You can see below that the first 18 mods in my original load order on the left in Mod Organiser (I have currently 200+ in my mod list this is just a subset) is massively different to the load order on the right after BOSS has corrected it.

An updated Skyrim load order in Mod Organiser after it has been ordered by BOSS.
An updated Skyrim load order in Mod Organiser after it has been ordered by BOSS. | Source

Using TES5Edit to clean dirty Skyrim mods

The final step in ensuring that your mods are working together and are not contributing to game crashes or poor performance is to clean those mods identified as “dirty” by BOSS. A mod that makes changes to the game by accident or makes unnecessary changes is called a “dirty” mod. Having only “clean” mods will reduce the number of potential conflicts between mods. To clean mods, we will use a tool called Tes5Edit.

First download and install TES5Edit from www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/25859

Note: As with BOSS, if you are using Mod Organiser, you will have to add the Tes5Edit executable so that it runs from within Mod Organiser; otherwise it will not pick up the mods correctly.

Now we are going to clean the “dirty” edits from Update.esm

  • Launch TES5Edit
  • On the Master / Plugin Selection dialogue box, right click and choose Select None
  • Choose Update.esm and click OK

Note: For best results, start at the top of your load order and work down, working on one mod at a time.

Tes5Edit will process the mod and add the mods master files; once it is finished:

  • Right click the mod you are cleaning and select Apply Filter for Cleaning
  • Once Tes5Edit has completed right click again and choose Remove “Identical to Master” records
  • Click Yes I’m absolutely sure on the big warning box
  • It will remove any identical records
  • Finally, right click on last time and pick Undelete and Disable References

The mod name will be highlighted green to show that it has been cleaned

Example of a cleaned Skyrim mod in TES5Edit.
Example of a cleaned Skyrim mod in TES5Edit. | Source

Now simply close TES5Edit and click OK to save the changed mod (it creates a back up automatically)

Finally, re-run BOSS to ensure that the mod is now shown as clean

BOSS now shows the mod as cleaned as a result of using TES5Edit to clean the mods.
BOSS now shows the mod as cleaned as a result of using TES5Edit to clean the mods. | Source

Conclusion

The load order for your installed mods in Skyrim is vitally important to ensure that your game is as stable and error free as possible. An incorrect load order can cause crashes, or even result in the game failing to load at all.

Today, we looked at two tools to help ensure that not only are your mods ordered correctly, but that they are clean.

First, we looked at BOSS. This tool:

  • Optimises your load order
  • Checks that all your mods are clean and have all the mods they depend on loaded
  • Ensures that you have all the necessary mod patches installed
  • Checks the readme files of all your mods for any warnings

Next, we used TES5Edit to clean dirty references from the mods identified as “dirty” by BOSS.

By using these two tools together, your Skyrim should run much better and be trouble free. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this hub and have found it useful and informative. Please feel free to leave a comment below and enjoy playing Skyrim!

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Robbie C Wilson

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Rod 

        7 months ago

        Hi

        I have installed BOSS Version 2.3.2, and get the critical error mentioned above, but when I run and quit Skyrim this makes no difference, the same error appears.

        Do you have any idea what might be causing this?

        Would my "My Documents" and hence the "My Games" folder being on E: be an issue?

      • profile image

        Lorkhan 

        2 years ago

        Thank you for these great and comprehensive guides to modding in Skyrim! Could you perhaps update this (or create a new topic or sub-topic to this one, whatever may work better) to reflect the fact that the BOSS tool has been kind of left aside by the more updated program called LOOT? Works practically the same way as BOSS, but is perhaps a bit more complete, and it's what modders are using, mostly. Again, thanks for the great tutorials!

      • profile image

        Ammy 

        2 years ago

        Yeah, the Boss masterlist is broken for me and after searching for an answer for four hours I think I'm just going to go play the witcher after all this shit.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, levelskip.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://levelskip.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)