• A Beginners Guide to Installing X-Plane Add-ons

    A Beginners Guide to Installing X-Plane Add-ons

    By Paul Mort

    This is a tutorial concerned with the installation of third party X-Plane files and add-ons from the FlightSim.Com file library. We all have to start somewhere, and so this tutorial is aimed at new users, and will tackle the installation from the ground up. When I first began taking an interest in flight simulation, I met many patient individuals who were willing to help a 'frustrated me', get on track; so in a way, this is a 'not so frustrated me', giving something back!

    Common Ground

    When you download add-ons from FlightSim.Com, you'll notice that they are all zip files.

    So what exactly does this file do? Well, the zip file is a way of combining all the files in a particular add-on and then compressing them down into a smaller size, therefore saving you both download time and bandwidth.

    The way I like to think of zip files, is like packing your clothes for a holiday, or for those of you across the pond...vacation!

    We would never carry a bundle of clothes (files) around with us, so we compress them into our suitcase (zip file). By doing this, we are ready to go, and have a convenient holder for all of our items. Depending on which zip program you use, things may look slightly different, but the basic principle is still the same. When we have downloaded the required zip file, we do the opposite of compressing it - we uncompress it (unzip). This creates a newly unzipped folder which we can then use. The original downloaded zip file can then be deleted at this point if no longer required.

    Before we being discussing the ins and outs of X-Plane's plethora of add-ons, we first need to locate our main X-Plane directory. Some people choose to install it on their desktop, but others will install it to a more suitable location, such as their main C: drive and then create a shortcut on their desktop. The thing about X-Plane, is that you can install it pretty much wherever you like. When you have located it (usually named 'X-Plane'), we are good to proceed.

    Add-on Types

    We will now look at the different types of add-ons you'll find in the file library and how to use them.


    Additional repaints/liveries are a great way of making your existing fleet of aircraft more varied, so this is a good place to start.

    To match the repaint with your aircraft, you'll have to look at the title or main description of the download (this will tell you which aircraft it is for).

    Download the appropriate repaint which will be a zip file as previously covered and unzip it. Now we need to know where to place the repaint.

    Compared to MSFS, the folder structure in X-Plane is very easy to use and so ALL items associated with a particular aircraft are kept in their own unique folder.

    The Liveries folder for an aircraft can be found in the following manner:

    Main X-Plane Folder > Aircraft Folder > Type Of Aircraft > Aircraft > Liveries

    If you don't know where your main X-Plane folder is, right click on the X-Plane shortcut on your desktop and view properties. You should be able to see the path there.

    Note: On some earlier aircraft, a Liveries folder might not be present. If this is the case, simply create a new folder and name it 'Liveries'. You'll encounter this situation with mostly X-Plane 8 and earlier converted aircraft.

    Tip: Making a desktop shortcut to a particular aircraft liveries folder saves navigating your way through multiple folders each time you install a new livery.

    Once the Liveries folder is opened, you will see all the existing paint schemes for that aircraft. Simply drop your newly unzipped folder into the Liveries folder and you are good to go!

    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Thanks Paul, very helpful. Just starting with X-Plane here.

      If I have an object library already installed and a scenery description lists it as a requirement; do I need to install it again?

    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      I only started into XP at XP11 stage. Being a life long MSFS and then moving onto P3D and scenery and object designer I know a lot about those sims. XP was a whole new learning experience. I went slowly, the XP manual was a good start but didn't get into how plugins, scenery and planes interact and the complications.

      Scenery having to be in a specific order of priority and trying to figure out what that order is for instance. Which plugins work and which do not with each version of XP. How to change the look and feel of the sim (like sky colour, clouds, environment, lighting that sort of thing) was another area of difficulty.

      What I would say there is a very high need to have a manual similar to those that have been compiled over the years for FSX,P3D regarding these and many other elements. It would be a big undertaking but would really help new folks entering into the XP world.

    1. PaulMort's Avatar
      PaulMort -
      Quote Originally Posted by W33 View Post
      Thanks Paul, very helpful. Just starting with X-Plane here.

      If I have an object library already installed and a scenery description lists it as a requirement; do I need to install it again?

      No need to install it again. as it will work for any Scenery that requires to use it. Do make sure although to keep your Libraries up to date by Downloading the latest Versions of your Libraries from time to time. If a developer includes new items to their Library in a newer version than you have, you will encounter missing Object errors.

      Regards Paul.
    1. dispatchcraig's Avatar
      dispatchcraig -
      Fantastic thank you, so glad i found this site..
    1. rmgarstka's Avatar
      rmgarstka -
      Just purchased a couple of aircraft add-ons. One group of five add-ons do not have the aircraft tires in the correct areas. What's up?
    1. Bigears's Avatar
      Bigears -
      Very useful background. I wish I'd come here before installing hd mesh. I would have had a better understanding of what I was doing. Thanks for you efforts.
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