Installing mods

Installing mods can be a trying experience, and doing so can ostensibly require technical experience that you might not have – especially if you’re coming from having modded another game. Fortunately, though, in most cases, installing mods for Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a very simple process. This page will help explain this process.

1. Installing the Mod

There are a two primary methods for installing a mod: automated and manual. We’ll look at these individually. We’ll also take a look at modding for Macs, as the installation process is a bit different.

Automatic Installations

Automatic Installations are those in which you click only one button and you’re done. This is the domain of the Steam Workshop – a fantastic but sometimes unreliable platform for finding mods that you like and want to keep updated.

  1. First, find a mod on the Steam Workshop that you like. We’ll use this one as an example, as it looks quite smexy.
  2. Next, click the green Subscribe button, as shown below (once subscribed, the + will turn into a check mark):Subscribe
  3. Load your game and proceed to the Mods menu. Your mod should install from here; the time it takes to install will depend upon how large the mod is. Particularly large mods will generally display a progress bar at the top of this list.


4. If you’ve so far run into no trouble, then proceed to 2. Loading the Mod below. Otherwise, read on.

5. As stated above, the Steam Workshop can be unreliable. Mods may not install, or mods may disappear at random – this may happen especially if you delete your cache folder. If you don’t see your subscribed mod appear in your Mod list, then continue to Manual Installations, step 5, as this is how we’ll install it. This can be useful if you’ve tried updating a mod, too.

The Steam Workshop Downloader

Sometimes, you’ll be directed to use the Steam Workshop Downloader if you wish to use a manual version of the mod. With this, simply find the Steam Workshop link to a mod that you want to manually download and enter the URL into the Downloader. You’ll then be given the option to download the mod as a .civ5mod file. Now, proceed to the manual installation instructions below.

Manual Installions

Most mods are provided as a zip file – in fact, the mods you download from the Steam Workshop as above are downloaded as fancy zips with the .civ5mod extension. When you install a mod manually, you’re essentially just unzipping a file into a specific folder. So let’s begin and show the Steam Workshop how to do it. If you’re coming here from Automatic Installations, you can skip to step 5.

  1. First, find a mod that you want to download from an existing database. You can find many mods at CivFanatics, in the Downloads Database or in various Threads. Let’s take my Exploration Continued Expanded mod as an example. Download the file in the description.
  2. You should have now downloaded a .civ5mod or .rar file.
  3. Move this file into the following location: Documents\My Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 5\MODS. This folder will store your mod list. If your file is a .rar file, skip straight to step 5.
  4. Load your game and proceed to the Mods menu. Your mod should install from here; the time it takes to install will depend upon how large the mod is. Particularly large mods will generally display a progress bar at the top of this list.


5. But what if the mod is not there? Well, this is where we take advantage of the nature of mods as simply compressed files. First, locate your zipped file at Documents\My Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 5\MODS. If you cannot find it, you may need to go back to step 1.


6. Double-click this file with whatever unzipper you use (we’ll be using winRAR) and select ‘Extract To,’ and then simply select ‘OK.’ You may need to set the default program to winRAR if this file is a .civ5mod file.


8. Repeat step 4 from the above and your mod should now be installed.


9. If it’s not, then we can try forcing the game to re-assess your mods and – hopefully – to redownloaded/unzip those that are missing. To do this, you’ll be deleting the game’s cache folder. The cache is the storage of the game’s old data, including your mod list. So, to force the game to refresh this list, you need to delete the Civ5ModsDatabase.db file in Documents\My Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 5\cache. You can also delete the entire cache folder to potential benefit if you’ve recently installed or updated a mod.

Note: Deleting this file/folder will force Steam to re-downloaded all of your mods. 

10. If still your mods do not appear, then it is time to turn to the Troubleshooting section of this site.

Please be aware that there are some mods which possess additional installation steps. Some of these are covered in Special Cases below.

On Mods and Mac

Please refer to this installation guide on installing mods for Mac.


Uninstalling a mod is generally a simpler process than installing them.

Automatic Installations

  1. Locate your mod on the Steam Workshop. An easy way to do this is to go to your Steam Profile, select Workshop Items, and then select Subscribed Items.
  2. Click the ‘Unsubscribe’ button on the right.
  3. Alternatively, select the green ‘Subscribe’ button as shown above. The check mark will change to a + once again.

Manual Installations

  1. Locate your mod’s folder in Documents\My Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 5\MODS and delete.

2. Loading the Mod

At this point, loading the mod is a simple, two-step process.

  1. At your Mods list, simply check the right-most circle, before pressing ‘Next’:ExCEEnabled
  2. And you’re done:


3. Special Cases

1. Enhanced User Interface



2. Community Balance Patch



3. Rise to Power/Cities in Development


4. Cultural Diversity

Installing Cultural Diversity is not unlike installing other mods only available via manual download. However, there is one important thing to note: the size of the Soundtrack addon will often result in the game being unable to install the mod correctly. Resolving this, however, is simply a matter of loading the mod and unzipping it. For specific instructions on this, please see Manual Installations, step 5.

4. Multiplayer

5. Q&A

If you have any questions regarding installation, please feel free to comment!

Can I use Achievements with mods?

Normally, no. If your mod requires that you go through the Mods Menu, then you will be unable to use Achievements. See the Enhanced User Interface section above for an example of a mod which can be used alongside Achievements.

Is there a load-order?

Yes, but mod-users have little control over it. Generally, a mod author is responsible for determining load orders within their mod. However, users do have some, limited control:

“Basically the mods load in whatever order they are retrieved from the database, which typically is the order you enable them in, but isn’t guaranteed to be”

whoward69, 15 Februrary, 2013


What is the maximum number of mods I can use?

There is no known limit, except for as far as your PC can perform. Naturally, the more mods you add, the less likely you’ll be able to run a stable game. There is, however, one exception to this rule: DLL mods. A DLL mod is a mod that alters the most fundamental aspects of the game code. You may have only one DLL mod active at any given time.

What is the benefit of using the Steam Workshop?

Besides the relative ease of finding mods, any mod that you subscribe to will automatically notify you of any updates. You will then be able to update your mods from the very mod menu, without having to restart the game.

What should I do if a mod link is dead?

Report it to the mod’s thread – the mod author may not be aware! If the mod author is no longer around, posting is still worthwhile, as someone may be able to help you with a new link or the mod itself.


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