How to Install Custom Content and Mods in "The Sims 4" (PC & Mac)
Installing custom content and mods in your Sims 4 game can be a bit confusing! From knowing where to place the items, to figuring out what to do when your CC doesn't work- there's a lot to know and it can be tricky, especially if you're a beginner. This guide will teach you all you need to know about downloading, installing, and troubleshooting custom content and mods for the Sims 4!
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Table of Contents:
Make Sure Your Game Is PatchedClick thumbnail to view full-size
Before you get started with downloading and installing custom content, you'll need to make to make sure your Sims 4 game is up-to-date with all recent patches.
Make sure you are connected to the internet, then open Origin, go to The Sims 4 in your Game Library, click on the Settings tab, and then click on the Update Game button. If your game does need any updates, Origin will automatically download and install them. If your game is already fully updated, you'll get a notification telling you so.
Download an extraction tool
When you start downloading CC, you'll notice that many of the files end in names like .zip, .rar, .7s, and so on. These files have been compressed by the custom content creator so you can download them and put them into your game. However, you can't just place a .rar or .zip file straight into your Sims 4 game. Therefore, you'll need a tool to extract these files.
I recommend using Winrar (which, despite the name, can be used in both Windows and Mac) to extract your files. You can download it here. Once you've finished downloading it, install it on your computer and move on to the next step!
Turn on Mods in Your Sims 4 Game
By default, The Sims 4 has an option to disable mods in the game. Before you get started with playing with mods and custom content, you'll need to start up your Sims 4 game and turn mods on (you'll also need to do this after each patch that is released, as the game options default back to mods being turned off).
To do this, start the game, click on the Menu button (the three buttons on the top right corner), Game Options, Other and then tick the Enable Custom Content and Mods box. Then hit the Apply Changes button and restart your game. The next time you start it up, your settings will be saved and you'll be able to play with mods!
Now that your game is patched and you've got a proper extraction tool on your computer, it's time to download some custom content or mods that you'd like to use in your game! If you don't already have one in mind, I've written some articles on some great custom content sites and mods for the Sims 4. Feel free to browse those articles to find something of your liking!
Once you've found the content you want to add to your game, click on the download button on the website.
If you're using Google Chrome as your Internet browser, you'll see the item downloading at the bottom of the screen. Once it's done downloading, you can right-click on the little arrow, and then choose to go to the folder it's downloaded to. Typically, your downloaded items will go into your Downloads folder on your computer.
Open up the Downloads folder and then right-click on the content you've just downloaded. If you're using WinRar, you'll see an icon that looks like a stack of books. Click on the option that says, "Extract to (mod name)". The file will then extract into a folder.
Open up the folder and check the contents inside. Usually, you'll just see files that end with .package. This is the file-type used for Sims 4 mods and custom content. You might see some other file types too. Some creators include images of their CC or .txt ("read me") files. These can be safely discarded. If you see file types ending in .ts4script, .bpi, .blueprint or .trayitem- these are also Sims 4 file types, and I'll tell you how to install those below. Do not delete them!
Highlight (use your cursor to draw a box around) the .package files in the folder and then right-click on them and select "cut". Now you'll need to navigate to your Sims 4 Mods folder.
To do this, go to Documents > Electronic Arts > The Sims 4 > Mods. Once you're in that folder, simply right-click anywhere and then select "Paste." You'll then see the .package files you've downloaded appear!
When you start up your game, the mod or CC you've installed should be there and working perfectly!
Lots are the name for houses or any types of venues that your Sims can visit in the game. You can also download custom lots to add to your game on various Sims CC websites.
Installing and downloading lots is basically the same process as above, except you place these files in a place in your Sims 4 folder.
Follow all the instructions above, but once you extract your files, paste them into Documents > Electronics Arts > The Sims 4 > Tray. Any download that ends in .bpi, .blueprint or .trayitem belongs in the Tray folder ONLY.
When you open up your game, you'll need to go the Gallery (click on the icon of the photos in the top right corner), then click on My Library. There, you'll find the lot you've downloaded.
If the lot also included custom content, make sure you click on the Advanced option in the Gallery and tick "Include Custom Content" for the lot to show up.
Now you can place the lot somewhere in your game!
Script mods are ones which change and add-on to the scripting of the game. Things like custom careers, custom animations/interactions, and popular mods like McCommand Center and WickedWhims are all script mods.
Installing script mods is again, pretty similar to installing the other mods listed above. The main difference, however, is that the file type will end in .ts4script. For these kind of mods, you'll still put them into your Documents > Electronic Arts > The Sims 4 > Mods folder, but you'll also need to make sure in your game settings that you have Script Mods enabled.
To do so, click on the Menu (the three buttons on the top right corner), Game Options, Other, and then tick the Script Mods Allowed button. You'll see a warning about script mods. Click OK, Apply Changes, then restart your game.
Your script mod will then be working the next time you play!
If you've installed the CC or mod exactly as describe above, it should all work just fine. However, if it doesn't show up in your game, or doesn't work for some reason, you might need to do some troubleshooting. Here's a list of things to check and try when you run into problems:
- As described above, make sure you have custom content and script mods turned on in your game.
- If you can't find a particular item in Buy Mode (this is where your custom objects go), go into Buy Mode (by clicking on the tools icon or F2). Click on the Filter Items tab, select Content, then tick the Custom Content button and you'll see all your custom content. You should see the items you downloaded there.
- You can also double-check that your custom content is installed by clicking on the View Custom Content button in the Options menu (go to Options > Other and click on the View Custom Content button). Look at the files listed there and you should see the content you've downloaded listed.
- Open up your Mods folder, and make sure you've placed the CC correctly. Remember, you should only see files ending in .package or .ts4script in your mods folder. If the files are ending in .zip, .rar., or any other file type, they won't work in your game!
- While you're online, go into Origin and repair your game. You can do this by clicking on The Sims 4 in your library, selecting the Settings button, and then clicking on Repair Game (please note that you must not be playing the game when you select this option). The game will then repair itself and basically do a fresh install of the files needed to run The Sims 4. It won't damage your save game, and this has actually fixed broken CC (particularly issues with script mods) for me in the past.
- Try deleting your .cache files. To do this, go into Documents > Electronics Arts > The Sims 4 folder. You can delete the localthumbscache.package file in this directory. You'll also see a folder titled cache and one titled cachestr. You can delete everything in these folders, but not the folder themselves. You may also safely delete the entire onlinethumbnailcache folder, if present. Deleting cache files allows the game to "fix" itself in a way, and can be done as a first resort before repairing your entire game.
- Re-download the mod and start over. Sometimes, download can be corrupted upon downloading them, so just in case, you can delete the files your first downloaded, download them again, and put them into your mods folder and see if it works.
- Check that the mod itself is up-to-date. With the Sims 4, nearly every time a patch comes out, it breaks a variety of mods. Usually, the mod's creator will be aware of this and will update his or her website to notify players of this. Check the page you downloaded the mod from and then delete and reinstall the new version, if necessary. Sims websites like SimsVIP also keep a running tab of incompatible mods and CC after patches.
- Remember that game mods and custom content are designed to work with genuine versions of The Sims 4. There is no guarantee that they will work with pirated versions of the game, so if you do have a pirated version and a mod isn't working, that could be why. The only way to fix this would be to buy a copy of The Sims 4 directly from Origin, where you can ensure the game will be patched regularly and compatible with all mods and custom content.
If you've tried all the troubleshooting methods and the mod/custom content still won't work, the best thing to do is contact the original creator and let them know. Give them a detailed example of what's happening in the game (i.e. "Whenever I place down the couch I downloaded, an error message comes up and says 'script call failed'"). Hopefully they'll get back to you with an updated version of the content or a way to work around the error. If not, you may just need to uninstall the file from your game.
Uninstalling CC and Mods is as simple as going to your Mods folder and deleting them. Right-click on whichever file you want to get rid of, select Delete, and then the next time you start up the game, that custom content or mod will no longer be in your game.
Hopefully this will never happen to you, but there's always the risk of running into broken or corrupt custom content or mods, while modding your game. If you have issues with your game freezing, crashing, generating "LastException" files while playing, or other major issues after downloading CC or mods, more than likely, the mod or CC you've installed is corrupted.
Backup Your Saves
Before you start deleting mods and testing them, backup your save game.
Go to your Sims 4 folder, right-click on the folder titled "Saves" and then copy it. Paste your Saves folder somewhere else on your computer, like your desktop. That way you'll have a "safe" version of your saved game in case anything goes wrong while testing.
Test Your Game Without Any Mods
Go to your Mods folder and right-click it. Again, copy it to your Desktop. Once you're sure you have a copy of your Mods folder on your Desktop, go ahead and delete the copy in your Sims 4 folder. Restart your game and play it for a few minutes. If you game runs without crashing or having errors, you know the issue is with one of your Mods. If it doesn't, you'll need to go out and repair your game (and the issue is something within your Sims 4 game itself).
Delete Script Mods
Because Script mods do the most changing in the game, they are the most likely to cause major game play errors if they're broken or out of date. Go back to your Sims 4 folder and take out any script mods (custom careers, WickedWhims, McCommand Centre, etc.) and then test your game without them. If the errors are gone, you know that one of your script mods is broken and needs to be fixed or updated.
Delete Recently Added Mods
Identifying the problematic mod can be as easy as deleting the last mod you've downloaded, if the problem cropped up after that. Paste your Mods folder back into your Sims 4 folder and then sort your files by Date Modified. Delete the most recent mod/CC and restart your game, play for a few minutes and see if your game works. If so, you've found the problem mod.
The 50/50 Method
This is pretty simple to do. Make a new folder on your desktop and just call it "Test Mods" or something similar. Take half of the items you have in your Mods folder and paste them into this folder. Test your game and see if the problem persists. If not, you know the problem content is in that other batch of mods. If so, the trouble mod is still in your game, and you'll need to repeat the process again.
This can be a bit tedious and time-consuming, but sometimes, it's the easiest way to identify troublesome mods when you have a big folder worth of content.
If you're having trouble understanding how the 50/50 method works, view this flowchart from The Sims Wiki.
There's several ways you can organize your Mods folder. I like to do mine by categories, as seen in the picture above. This doesn't really do anything special during the gameplay, but it allows me to easily find content in my folders, install new content, and delete or update old content.
You can organise your Mods folder in any way which makes the most sense to you! You can do it by creator, by categories (like shoes, clothes, hair, etc.), or functionality (buy mode, script mods, etc.).
Keeping your Mods folder organised is highly recommended, just for easier installation/un-installation of Mods as you play The Sims 4.
Rename files to speed up your game
I believe it was back in The Sims 2 when users began noticing that if you have files in your mods folder with special characters (like @ $ # , etc.) in their name, it would slow down the game's loading screen. This still happens in The Sims 4, so the easiest way to avoid long loading times when downloading mods, is to rename any files and delete any special characters in the title.
Just right-click on the file, select rename, and then delete any special characters and spaces. Make sure you don't change the extension type (it should still end in .package).
If you have too many files to do this all manually, there's a great program called the Bulk Rename Utility which will help you rename your files easily.
How to Use the Bulk Rename Utility
Download and install the free program from here.
Once you've finished installing it, go to your Documents > Electronic Arts > Sims 4 folder and right-click on the Mods folder. Click the option that says Bulk Rename Here.
The program will open up and you'll see your Mods folder there. Highlight everything in the folder, and then go to the section that says Replace (3), just below the Mods window. In the Replace box, enter your cursor and just hit the space bar once. This will delete any spaces in the file names.
Now go to the section that says Remove (5). Tick the "Sym." box. This will delete any symbols.
The Mods window will illustrate what the files will look like once you're done; all spaces and special characters should be gone. Hit the Rename button on the bottom right hand corner, hit yes to all the warning boxes, and you will have succesfully renamed all your CC/Mods!
If you have sub-folders, you'll have to click into each of them individually to rename the files inside. Follow the same method described above.
Merge custom content for faster loading
This method is a bit risky, and one I only recommend to experienced modders of The Sims. Merging files really can speed up your loading time, but it can also cause issues, as there's no way to "un-merge" files once you merge them, and if one of the files breaks within your merged file, you'll have to delete everything merged with it to get rid of the problematic file.
However, merging files can be a great way to speed up your game and organise your game even more; for example, you can merge files by creator, by date, by item type (i.e. you can merge all your custom clothes together, or all your custom hair, etc.) or whatever you like.
Warning: DO NOT MERGE .ts4script, tray files or anything but basic .package files together!
How to Use The Sims 4 Studio to Merge Files
First, you'll need to register for a free account and download the Sims 4 Studio program. The Sims 4 Studio is a free-fan made program for both Windows and Mac users.
Once you've downloaded and installed The Sims 4 Studio program on your computer, open it up and click on Tools > Merge Packages.
A window will open up. Click on the Add button and then navigate to your Mods folder in the window. Highlight all the mods you want to merge together, and select open. Click on the Merge button. The program will prompt you to rename your new merged .package file. Give it a unique name and select Save.
Once the status bar finishes (it will take longer if you have a lot of files to merge), a pop-up will appear saying you've merged the packages successfully.
The program will automatically open up to your Mods folder when done and you'll see both your newly merged .package file as well as your un-merged ones. You can safely delete the old files, OR you can copy and paste them somewhere else as a backup (for example, make an Unmerged Mods folder on your desktop and keep them there), which will make it easier if you do have to delete one of the files in the future.
In the case that you do need to delete a file that you've merged, if you've kept the un-merged files copied somewhere, simply delete the individual file you want to get rid of, and delete the merged .package file from your Mods folder. Then go back into Sims 4 Studio, merge the remaining files as explained above and then put the new merged .package file into your Mods folder.
That's the basics on how to install mods and custom content for The Sims 4, as well as how to troubleshoot, uninstall and keep your Mods folder organised! Got any questions or suggestions that I haven't covered above? Feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to help!
Questions & Answers
I love downloading CC, but I can’t find any good websites that aren’t Sims resources. Do you know any good Sims custom content sites?
Please have a look at my other article, The Best Free Custom Content Sites for "The Sims 4"Helpful 87
How can I find a Sims custom content website to download from without a membership?
Please check out my other article, The Best Free Custom Content Sites for "The Sims 4" There's so many sites you can download from for free and without a membership.Helpful 34
I installed The Sims 4 with Origin, so I don't have the Electronic Arts folder, but Origin Games / The sims 4 (without a Tray folder)?
Your Electronic Arts folder is located in your Documents folder. You'll need to navigate there (not to the Origin Games folder) to find your Sims 4 folder where you put your tray files and mods.Helpful 27
Every time I try to download a custom content clothing it always says I need a new version for my PC and go to the software and publisher to find out what version I need and I do not know how to do that. How do I get the right version of the Sims 4?
You need to update your Sims 4 game. This is the very first thing covered in the article, under the header: "Make Sure Your Game Is Patched"Helpful 23
What if I don't have The Sims 4 folder?
Everyone does. It's located in Documents > Electronic Arts > The Sims 4.Helpful 13
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