The Parent's Guide To Installing Minecraft Mods

By Bec Oakley

Are your kids desperate to get into mods but you don't know where to start? Well this is the guide for you. Installing mods can be tricky and frustrating, but hopefully this will make it a little easier to understand.

Important safety tips!

Before you get started, make sure you understand what mods are and you've read the safety tips for downloading them. If you're looking for some good ones to try out, check out this list or this list for some recommendations that you can use to get your feet wet.

And most importantly of all, make a backup copy of any worlds that you already have that you want to keep. There are times when mods can permanently corrupt worlds, so you want to be able to restore them if that happens. To make a backup copy, look for the /minecraft/saves folder - each world will have its own subfolder in there, so take a copy of that and put it somewhere safe before you start modding.

 

How do you install a mod?

There's really no standard way to install a Minecraft mod because each is created by a different person using different methods. Each mod should come with its own installation instructions, but most assume that you'll use a mod called Minecraft Forge which makes the whole thing a lot easier. So I'm going to show you the Forge method of installing.

 

Installing mods with Forge

Mods can often be really difficult to get up and running. Luckily someone has created a mod loader called Forge, which is a much simpler way to deal with it all.

Step 1.  Backup your game files

Mods mess around with the original content of the game, and since mod creators vary in skill and experience there's always the potential that something could go wrong with that. This includes the files where Minecraft saves the worlds you create and stores data about your achivements and other stats. So before installing any mod you should always, always backup these files.

One of the most important files when it comes to mods is minecraft.jar (usually referred to as just 'the jar'). This is an archive folder that has all the important core minecraft files and folders inside it. Other important folders are .minecraft/saves and .minecraft/stats, which store data about your worlds and achievements. These three folders are the main ones you want to backup (but you might as well backup the entire .minecraft folder to be super safe).

So find where these files are stored on your computer:

Windows 7 and 8
C:\Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\

Windows Vista/XP
C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\

Mac OSX
~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/

On some operating systems you might need to unhide hidden files and folders before you can see these directories. In Windows this is a setting in the control panel. For example, in Windows 8 you find it under Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options ... then click Show hidden files and folders.

Step 2:  Download Forge

  • Go to the official Forge website (files.minecraftforge.net)
  • Figure out which version you need (it needs to match the version of Minecraft that your mods are compatible with)
  • Look for that version number under the Versions header
  • If this is your first time installing Forge, pick the one that says Recommended
  • Look for the link called Installer-Win (for PC) or Installer (for Mac) to download the installation file.

IMPORTANT: If you want to bypass the ads, click Show All Downloads and hover over the little "i" next to the installer name of the version you're after. In the box that pops up, select the link that says Direct Download - that's the direct download link that doesn't pass through AdFly first (an ad service that shows you ads before taking you to the download page). These ads sometimes look like legitimate links to trick you into downloading malware, so it's a good idea to use the direct link instead.

If you do land on AdFly, wait five seconds for the counter in the top right hand corner to count down and the SKIP AD link to appear. DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING ON THE ADFLY PAGE EXCEPT THE SKIP AD LINK, which will take you to the Forge download page.

Step 3:  Install Forge

Once the file has downloaded (and you've scanned it with your antivirus protection software), double-click to open it and then select 'Install Client'.

Step 4:  Launch Minecraft

Once Forge has successfully installed, run Minecraft and look in the profiles drop-down menu - you should see that you now have a new profile called Forge. Log in with that profile and click Play (wait for the green bar to fully load). You should now have a menu option called Mods. Exit Minecraft.

Step 5:  Download compatible mods

Mods can be found all over the internet, with some sources being more reliable than others. These are good places to start:

Make sure you read through the Safety Tips For Downloading Mods article first and, as with any file that you download from the internet, exercise extreme caution before clicking on any download link and always run good virus protection on your device.

Forge is in itself a mod, and any mod that you want to install with it needs to be compatible with it. You can find this information in the place where you got the mod (e.g. the forum post with the download link) and in the documentation that you download along with the mod files.

Step 6:  Install the mod

Now all you need to do is copy the entire zip file of the mod into the mods folder that Forge has created in the /minecraft folder. That's it!

Step 7:  Launch Minecraft

Now when you run Minecraft, you'll see the mods that you put in the mods folder listed under the Mods menu option.

 

Did something go wrong?

If you can't get Forge up and running, check out the article How To Fix Common Forge Problems.

If Minecraft freezes or crashes after installing a mod, or you can't get the mod to work, here are some things to check:

  • Are the mods compatible with the version of Minecraft that you're running?
  • If you're using Forge... is the mod you're trying to load compatible with it?
  • Did you download the correct version of Forge for the version of Minecraft that you're running?
  • Does the mod need another mod in order to run?
  • Are there conflicting mods? Sometimes different mods make changes to the same files, and that can cause conflicts. The information that came with the mod should warn you about these.
  • Did you install the mod according to its instructions?
  • Is there any more info at the original place where you got the mod? Check the Minecraft Forums for other users having the same problems (there will almost certainly be some).

And if you still can't get it to work, contact me and I'll see if I can help. Oh and don't forget to check out the Mailbag section where we also do a lot of mods troubleshooting :)

GOOD LUCK!

 

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