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X-Plane Scenery & Libraries

Installing Third Party Scenery

This article is about the X-Plane Custom Scenery folder (X-Plane\Custom Scenery) which is created during X-Plane installation, and how it can be used to enhance your X-Plane experience. Within the Custom Scenery folder you will find a number of folders which X-Plane loads as it starts up. The order of those folders at startup is important, and is determined at run time by the included scenery_packs.ini file, which you will find at the bottom of the Custom Scenery folder.

Where to find Scenery

All X-Plane users should go-to and sign up.  "The Org" as it is often known contains a huge database of freeware files, aircraft, instructions and other information. To access the library download pages within the site directly, go to Many users will install all or nearly all the libraries.  It only needs to be done once, as they are accessed by multiple sceneries.  They are updated from time to time, and if this is the case, X-Plane will tell you during start-up. It is not unusual for one scenery file to need up to 10 libraries for it to work correctly.

Installing Scenery & Libraries

The method that works for many users is to UNZIP the downloaded .ZIP scenery file into an empty temporary folder, then copy and paste the folder which was contained within the ZIP as is, into the Custom Scenery folder without any changes. There should some installation instructions included in the zip, or at least be a text file describing the scenery.  While not necessary to export this, it is often useful to leave it there for future reference.
Another method, which does not always work correctly, is to copy the zip file into Custom Scenery and unzip it there.. This method is known to sometimes create a further sub folder within the custom scenery folder
i.e. Custom Scenery\Your_new_scenery\Your_new_scenery.
If that happens the scenery will be "buried" one layer too deep and will not display. If this does happen, then CUT (not COPY) the lower one and PASTE it up one level, and when prompted that a folder of that name already exists, select "overwrite" the existing one, which will be empty.

Scenery Design

The creation of airport scenery for X-Plane is a 2-stage process.   First, the designer creates the base airfield using a readily available freeware scenery editor which contains the necessary tools to create the runways/taxiways and aprons. Secondly, in order to populate the airfield with buildings, static aircraft and other "furniture" the designer makes use of a number of libraries. These libraries contains OBJECTS which the designer can choose from to add to his airport. A library will contain many objects, of which the author may use one (or more), but the entire library must be downloaded together with all the other required libraries for that scenery, as well as the scenery file. The installation instructions for the scenery will almost invariably include information about how to download the libraries, which are rarely created by or downloaded from the scenery designer's own source.   The logic behind this system is that the library objects are NOT physically installed into the scenery, but remain separate.  They are symbolically linked between the scenery and the library when X-Plane is required to display that airport. Therefore it is essential that both are installed into the Custom Scenery folder.


As mentioned in the introduction, the scenery_pack.ini file determines the order in which the files are loaded as X-Plane starts. If the order is wrong, then you may not see the scenery you expect to see! To ensure that you get the scenery order right, follow the procedure below.

  • Install your scenery in X-Plane\Custom Scenery as instructed by the scenery author
  • Run X-Plane briefly then exit. This adds the necessary data to the file scenery_packs.ini
  • Open the scenery_pack.ini file with a text editor and rearrange the file names in the followng order
    1. Your downloaded scenery
    2. Aerosoft default scenery
    3. Ortho4XP_Overlays (*optional - only if you are using OrthoXP)
    4. Global Airports
    5. Libraries (all the ones you need - no exceptions. Some X-Plane uses install all the libraries available just in case, but this is perhaps a bit extreme for most users.
    6. Zortho4XP (*optional - only if you are using OrthoXP)
    7. zzz_HD_global_scenery4 (*optional
  • The Z prefix on the last two items helps to ensure that they are listed last in the file if using the scenery file organiser XOrganiser.

If you would like to install photographic scenery for X-Plane so that you can fly over the real landscape, then this website is a very good starting point, but be warned, the process is not particularly simple, and the downloaded files can be huge (Gigabytes!).


Another method is to use a utility called Xorganiser. This works with the .INI file outside X-Plane. It also has other functions such as switching off/on sceneries if performance or load times are an issue.