Recommendations for using VST plug-ins on Windows

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: Windows

Installing plug-ins

A VST plug-in often has two separate installation locations. The stand-alone version usually gets installed into a subfolder of "Program Files". This subfolder is normally named after the plug-in developer.

The second location is for the VST plug-in itself (a DLL file). The DLL file should be installed to the following default system folder: 

  • 64 bit plug-ins: C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Vstplugins\
  • 32 bit plug-ins: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\Vstplugins\

Some important points to consider:

  • Most plug-ins will install into these folders by default, but in certain cases you might have to point the installer to the correct location.
  • Make sure to install the correct version of a plug-in (64-bit or 32-bit). 32-bit plug-ins won't show up in the 64-bit version of Live and vice versa. Note: Live 10 is 64-bit only.
  • Always install VST plug-ins directly to the correct folder, rather than manually moving the DLL file afterwards.
  • VST plug-ins might stop working when the stand-alone application of the plug-in gets moved, renamed or uninstalled.
  • Don't install the standalone version of a plug-in to the VST plug-in DLL folder.
  • Don't install 32-bit and 64-bit versions of plug-ins to the same folder.

Using a custom folder for plug-ins

If you prefer to use a custom (non-system) folder to store your plug-ins, you can set this in your preferences:

  1. Open Live's Preferences to the File/Folder tab.
  2. Under "Plug-In Sources" select a custom VST folder.
  3. Then switch "Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder" On.

Note: If you're using one of the default system folders there's no need to add this as a custom folder.


What to do if a plug-in doesn't appear in Live

See our dedicated article: VST/AU plug-in doesn't appear in Live.

What to do if a plug-in doesn't function correctly in Live

  • Check the manufacturer's website to verify that there's a compatible version for your Operating System.
  • Check the manufacturer's website and make sure you have installed the latest version of the plug-in. If necessary re-install the plug-in completely.
  • Certain plug-ins may require Live to run with admin rights. For example plug-ins which offer the possibility to drag MIDI clips from the plug-in into Live, like Toontrack's EZDrummer. Here's how to run an application with admin rights on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.

What to do if a plug-in crashes Live

  • If Live crashes at launch after installing a plug-in, you can press and hold the [alt] key then launch Live. This will skip the plug-in scanning process and temporarily disable VST support.
  • Reinstall the plug-in. If the crashes continue, contact support with any available crash reports.
  • Selecting a whole drive, a Windows system folder or the whole "Program Files" folder as plug-in folder location can cause Live to crash at launch.
  • Make sure that your plug-ins folder only contains VST DLLs and no system DLL files

Further Reading