How to Install SFSE for Starfield And What It Does

SFSE, or “Starfield Script Extender,” is a must for those looking to run certain Starfield mods. Select mods need that extra layer of access to operate. Without it, they simply won’t work. 

I recently installed SFSE myself to get an achievement enabler working and this is how I did it. 

Step 1: Download SFSE.

The Nexus Mods website with a red box and red arrow highlighting the download button.

As with most guides, you’ll need the actual SFSE files, so let’s grab them now. 

You can download SFSE from the Nexus Mods website. You will need an account, though, so feel free to sign up for one while you’re there if you haven’t. 

When you’re ready, click on files, then slow download, and finally manual download. This will download the zip file containing the files we need.

Step 2: Extract SFSE.

The SFSE zip file with the extract option by a red box and arrow.

Depending on your operating system, this next part will be different. Open up your file explorer – File Explorer on Windows and Dolphin on Linux and Steam Deck. On Windows, it’s the yellow folder icon, while on Linux and Steam Deck, it’s the blue folder icon. 

Once that’s open, head into the downloads folder.

  • For Steam Deck users: Click with the left trigger on the file and select extract then extract here.
  • For Windows and Linux users: Click on the file with the right mouse button and select extract then extract here.

A few seconds later the file will extract itself to its own new folder.  

Note: If you can’t access the file on Windows, that’s because it’s a 7Zip file. If that’s the case, then grab WinRAR for free from here to extract it.

Inside the SFSE folder, two files mentioned in the article are highlighted.

Head inside the newly-created folder and inside will be one folder, two files, and two text files. Out of the five options we only need the following two files (the rest are for developers):

  • sfse_1_79_.dll
  • sfse_loader.exe

One thing to keep in mind, these files get updated often, so the “_1_79_” part of the DLL file may be different from mine. 

Next, we need to copy both of these files. On Windows and Linux, highlight both files with the mouse then use the right button to click on them and hit copy.

On Steam Deck, it’s the same process but switch the right mouse button for the left trigger to bring up the submenu.

Step 3: Locate the Main Starfield Folder.

Now we need to locate the main Starfield folder. Depending on your operating system, the folder’s location will be in one of the following places:

  • For Linux and Steam Deck users: /home/deck/.steam/steam/steamapps/common/Starfield/
  • For Windows users: C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam/steamapps/common/Starfield/

If you’re on Linux or the Steam Deck, you will need to enable ‘show hidden files’ by pressing the three lines button in Dolphin and toggling this feature on. 

Step 4: Transfer SFSE to the Main Starfield Folder.

The two SFSE files in the main Starfield folder.

Once you’re inside the main Starfield folder, click on an empty space to bring up the submenu and hit paste to drop the two files we need into place. 

Note: Windows and Linux users can use the right mouse button to bring up the submenu, while Steam Deck users need to press the left trigger.

Step 5: Create a New SFSE Shortcut.

The SFSE launcher file with a red box to highlight it.

Now that the SFSE files are where they need to be, all that’s left to do is add them somewhere more convenient. 

On Steam Deck, click on the sfse_loader.exe file with the left trigger and select ‘add to Steam’. Then load up the main Steam app and find the same file under library. Click on the file with the left trigger and select Properties. From here hit compatibility then Force the Use of a Specific Steam Play Compatibility Tool and pick the latest version of Proton. Press play and the SFSE version of Starfield will load up. 

The Steam Deck method above also works for Linux users if you want to add it to Steam. Just switch “left trigger” for “right mouse click.”

For Windows users, all you need to do is click with the right mouse button on sfse_loader.exe and select the send to desktop option to create a shortcut for SFSE. 

Do you need to create a shortcut for SFSE? No, but I strongly recommend it. Starfield won’t load SFSE unless you use the sfse_loader.exe file, so creating a desktop icon makes the process a lot smoother and saves a solid amount of time.

What Is SFSE?

The Starfield Script Extender is a piece of software that adds additional scripting options and functions to Starfield. In simpler terms, it lets certain mods work by providing extra access. One example is the excellent Baka mod to reenable achievements. That mod simply won’t work if you just drop it into the Starfield directory. But thanks to the extra scripting options found in SFSE, it can. 

Even though SFSE is still new to Starfield, the whole concept of a script extender isn’t necessarily a new thing. Both Skyrim and Fallout 4 use a similar script extender – SKSE and F4SE – to let the more complex mods work to their fullest.

Does SFSE Work on the Microsoft Store Version of Starfield?

Nope. Loads of people have been asking this but unfortunately, the version of Starfield found on the Microsoft Store isn’t compatible with SFSE. 

The problem here is the Steam and Game Pass versions use a different file structure and different executables. In short, you can’t just drag and drop SFSE into a different folder and expect it to work.

“No, you can’t just jam the DLL [into] the Game Pass version and expect it to work. The Game Pass and Steam executables are very different, alternate loaders are not calling functions at the right times – the whole thing is a mess, says SFSE developer Ian.

“Independently of any loader, protection, or other issues, it would take a huge amount of effort to support the Game Pass executable. This effort would also be passed down to everyone creating native code mods. Doubling (or worse) everyone’s work is not going to happen right now.”

Basically, don’t expect support anytime soon. SFSE development is complex enough without adding what is essentially a different platform into the mix.

SFSE Not Working?

If you’re having trouble running SFSE, let’s go through some of the most common problems and how to fix them. 

  • Are you running Starfield through the SFSE “exe” file or through the Steam launcher? Always run SFSE via the custom exe file. 
  • Are both files in the correct place? If you put them in the DATA folder or in the My Games folder, move them into the paths listed earlier in this guide. 
  • Using the Game Pass version? SFSE won’t work with that.
  • Not loading? If Starfield has recently been updated, you’ll need to wait for the SFSE developers to update SFSE.

If none of the above solutions fix your issue, and the comments on the mod download page aren’t of any help, feel free to reach out to the SFSE developers directly. Their email addresses can be found over on the SFSE website. Just please, please be polite.

Wesley Copeland
Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.