Using VST plug-ins on Windows

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: Windows


Installing plug-ins

Run the installer file from the plug-in manufacturer. If there is a stand-alone version of the software, this is usually installed to a subfolder of Program Files which is named after the plug-in developer.

The VST plug-in itself is a separate file which uses the .dll file extension.

The .dll file needs to be installed to a separate location from the stand-alone version. The default system folder for VST plug-ins is: 

  • C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins - 64-bit VST2 plug-ins
  • C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3 - 64-bit VST3 plug-ins. (Live 10.1 and later only)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\VSTPlugins - 32-bit plug-ins. (Live 10 does not support 32-bit plug-ins)

VST plug-ins can instead be installed to a custom plug-in folder if you prefer. Choose a custom folder location under Plug-in Sources in Live's Preferences.

Note: Various other system files also use the .dll file extension, so make sure that you only place VST .dll files into your plugin folder, otherwise Live may crash when scanning.

Activating the plug-in folder in Live


  1. Open Live's Preferences --> Plug-ins (Live 10.1 and later) or File Folder (all Live versions until 10.1)--> Plug-In Sources.
  2. Activate either the Custom folder or System folder as required.
  3. If using a custom folder, click "Browse" to select the folder where your plug-ins are installed.
  4. Live will scan all available plug-ins and once completed they will show up in Live's browser under the Plug-ins category.

Important points to note when installing plug-ins

  1. Most plug-ins will install into the system folders by default, but if using a custom folder you might have to point the installer to the correct location.
  2. 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.
  3. VST plug-ins might stop working when the stand-alone application of the plug-in gets moved, renamed or uninstalled.
  4. Don't install the standalone version of a plug-in to the VST plug-in DLL folder.
  5. VST files use the .dll file extension. Various other system files may also use the .dll file extension, so make sure that you only put VST .dll files into your plug-in folder, otherwise Live might crash while trying to load the non-vst files.
  6. 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. 

A plug-in doesn't appear in Live

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

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 7Windows 8 and Windows 10.

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.
  • Make sure that your plug-in folder only contains VST .dll files and no system .dll files

Video Tutorial

Further Reading