Using VST plug-ins on Windows


  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: Windows

VST plug-ins are instruments and effects from third-party manufacturers that can be installed and used in Live. VST2 plug-ins use the .dll file extension. VST3 plug-ins use the .vst3 file extension.

  • Make sure that your plug-in folders do not contain any other files than the plug-ins with their respective extensions (.dll, .vst3)
  • Avoid using different plugin formats (VST2, VST3) of the same plug-in in a Live set.

How to install and activate VST plug-ins on Windows

1. Download the latest installer file from the plug-in manufacturer's website and run it.

2. Some plug-ins may also have a standalone version which is separate from the VST version. Don't install the standalone and VST versions to the same folder. 

3. Depending on the plug-In format, you can either install to a default folder and/or to a custom folder of your choice. Here are some recommendations for existing folders that you can use:

  • VST2 plug-ins: C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins

  • VST3 plug-ins: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3
  • VST plug-ins (32-bit): C:\Program Files (x86)\VSTPlugins

Note: Live 10 and 11 are only available in 64-bit, so 32-bit plug-ins aren't supported. Likewise, 64-bit plug-ins won't appear in 32-bit versions of Live.

4. Once installed, launch Live.

5. Open PreferencesPlug-Ins → Plug-In Sources

Note: If you are using a Live version prior to 10.1., you will find it under Preferences → File/Folder → Plug-In Sources.

6. Enable Use VST2 Plug-In Custom Folder and click Browse to select the location of your VST2 Plug-Ins:


7. Enable Use VST3 Plug-In System Folders to activate your VST3 plug-ins. In case you prefer to use or add a different VST3 folder of your choice, enable Use VST3 Plug-In Custom Folder, but note that it is not recommended to select the same location for both folders.


Note: only add discrete folders that contain VST plug-ins. Adding entire drives or system folders may crash Live. Make sure that the folder contains only VST .dll files. Other system files can use the .dll extension too, but they may crash Live if included in the VST folder.

8. Live scans all available plug-ins and once completed they will show up in Live's browser under Plug-Ins.

9. If you've installed the plug-in correctly but it's still not appearing in Live, see our dedicated article: VST/AU plug-in doesn't appear in Live.