Recommendations for using VST plug-ins on Windows
- Live Versions: All
- Operating System: Win
- Setting a custom plug-in folder
- Plug-in doesn't appear/ function correctly
- Plug-in crashes Live
- Further reading
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 DLL.
We recommend to use the following default system folders for VST plug-ins on Windows. Most plug-ins will install into these folders by default, but in certain cases it might be necessary to manually point the installer to the correct location:
64 bit plugins: C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Vstplugins\
32 bit plugins (on 64 bit systems): C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\Vstplugins\
Important points to note when installing:
- Make sure to install the correct version of a plug-in (64-bit or 32-bit) depending on which version of Live you are using. 32-bit plug-ins won't show up in the 64-bit version of Live and vice versa.
- Always install VSTs directly to the correct destination 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.
- The stand-alone version of a plug-in should not be installed into the VST plug-in DLL folder.
- Make sure to install the correct version of the plug-in: if you are using the 64-bit version of Live, you need to install a 64-bit plug-in and vice versa for 32-bit plug-ins.
- It's not recommended to store the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of plug-ins in the same folder.
If you rather use a custom (non-system) folder to store your plugins, you can set this in your preferences:
- Open Live's preferences by pressing [ctrl][,] on your keyboard.
- Navigate to the File/Folder tab.
- Under "Plug-In Sources" please select the folder, where the VST plug-in DLLs have been installed to (see above). Note: selecting a whole drive, a Windows system folder or the whole "Program Files" folder as plug-in location can cause Live to crash at launch.
- Then switch "Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder" On.
Ensure the plug-in has been installed to the correct folder
- Make sure the plug-in is installed to the correct folder, either the system folder or the custom folder if using one.
Ensure you have the correct version installed (32-bit or 64-bit, VST 2 only)
- 32-bit plug-ins won't show up in the 64-bit version of Live and vice versa. Some recent updates of plug-ins are only available in 64-bit (like Kontakt 5). If you are using the 32-bit version of Live, these will not show up. Conversely older plug-ins which have not been updated may only be available in 32-bit and will not show up in the 64-bit version of Live.
- VST 3 is not supported on Live, only VST 2 is supported.
Perform a deep rescan of the plug-ins folder
- Hold ALT/Option and press "Rescan plug-ins" in Live's preferences in the File/Folder section. This will perform a deep rescan of all installed plug-ins.
Check for updates and if necessary re-install the plug-in
- 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 taking note of our installation guidelines.
Use Admin rights
- 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.
- 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 3rd party plug-in support.
- Reinstall the plug-in. If the crashes continue, contact support with any available crash reports.