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 follow something like these series of steps.

The easiest way to do all this is by using a mod called Minecraft Forge, but sometimes for whatever reason Forge doesn’t load properly or the mods you want to run aren’t compatible with it. In those cases it really helps if you have an idea about how to install mods without it, so I’ll give you those instructions as well.

OPTION A: 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: 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 Promotions column or use the dropdown box called Select Minecraft Version
If this is your first time installing Forge, pick the one that says Recommended
Under the Downloads column use the link called Installer to download the installation file.
IMPORTANT: In the Downloads column you’ll see the names of the different versions (e.g. Installer, Installer-Win, Universal) followed by a link that’s an asterisk.

Always pick the link with the asterisk (*) as 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 always 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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:

Ten Popular Minecraft Mods To Get You Started
Another List of Cool Minecraft Mods
The mods section of the Minecraft Forums
MCF Mod List
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 5: 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 6: 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?
Check out the Troubleshooting section at the bottom of this page, or the article How To Fix Common Forge Problems.

OPTION B: DIRECTLY INSTALLING MODS
If you can’t get Forge to run properly or the mods you want to use aren’t compatible with it, try these instructions instead (but I really, really recommend that you try getting Forge to work because it will make your life a lot easier!)

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: Check that you have an archive utility program
You’ll need this to open some of the files that you’ll be working with (which will have extensions like .rar and .jar). Your operating system might already have one of these installed, but if not you can easily find free versions:

WinRAR
Winzip
7zip
Archive Utility (comes with OSX)
The Unarchiver
Step 3: Check which version of Minecraft you’re running
Mods are made to work with a specific version of Minecraft, so you’ll need to know which one you’re running before you start downloading mods which aren’t capatible. It’s really easy to find out – just launch Minecraft and look on the bottom left corner of the screen.

Step 4: Download the mod
Once you’ve found a mod you like the sound of from a source that seems reliable, download the file and save it somewhere on your computer. Make sure you follow the security tips!

Step 5: Download any additionally required files
Some mods need other mods to be installed in order for them to work properly. This should be noted in both the place where you got the mod (e.g. the forum post with the download link) and in the documentation that you downloaded along with the mod files, and usually there are links so you know where to get them.

Step 6: Open the .jar
That’s the one you located in step 1 (e.g. minecraft/bin/minecraft.jar… in later versions of Minecraft the jar file will be in the versions folder, under the Minecraft version number that you’re running). To open it you’ll need to unarchive it using the archive utility program mentioned in step 2 – the way you do this will differ depending on which program you’re using, but for most of them it will be something like right-clicking on the file name and choosing to open the file with your unarchiver (e.g. right-click on minecraft.jar and select Open With… Winzip).

Step 7: Install the mod
Follow the instructions that came with the mod. This usually involves opening or unarchiving the mod file into a temporary folder, and then moving the contents into the .jar.

Step 8: Delete the META-INF folder
This folder contains files which are designed to stop Minecraft from running if it detects that there have been changes, so you have to delete them in order for the game to run with mods installed.

Step 9: Launch Minecraft
You should now be able to start up Minecraft with the mod installed and running. If not, check out the troubleshooting section below.

TROUBLESHOOTING
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 🙂