Installing and Upgrading - V7 and Earlier

How do I install the scenery CDs (V6/V7)?

Each of the four scenery CDs contains a single huge ZIP, containing multiple scenery folders. Open it with WinZip on a PC or Stuffit Expander, ZipIt, or BOMArchiveHelper on a Mac. Extract the contents into the Resources/Earth Nav Data folder. Note: you must end up with the numbered folders in the Earth Nav Data folder. If you end up with additional containing folders, move the numbered folders into the Resources/Earth Nav Data folder and discard the intervening folder(s). See the description on the scenery page of how the scenery naming conventions work.

I installed the scenery and I still only see water when I move out of southern California.

You didn't get the scenery folder structure right. Here's a picture of what it should look like on Mac OS-9 (only there's a lot more files and folders). You can see a similar display with Windows Explorer.

For more ins and outs of handling scenery, see the scenery page.

Where do I get add-ons like aircraft and scenery?

There are three registries for X-Plane add-ons:
Basic scenery for the entire world was available via free download from the Global Scenery Project (GloS). The index page server is still running, but servers hosting the actual scenery archives are no longer reachabe. It is not currently available on CD.

The X-Plane SRTM Scenery is an alternate source of global scenery. Ths is a regeneration of the V6/V7 global scenery using more detailed elevation data from the Sace Shuttle terrain mapping missions.

Scenery for all of Mars has been available in the past but does not appear to be currently available from any source.

Also check out the links on the X-World page. Note that requires you to establish an account (no money or committment involved). There are links from the registry to aircraft stored on Avsim. These won't work until you've established your account and logged into Avsim.

How do I install custom aircraft?

Planes built by other X-Plane users are typically packaged as compressed archives of the plane's folder structure. All planes can be used on either PC or Mac, regardless of where they were built. Most are packaged as ZIP archives. On a PC, you'll need WinZip or something similar. On the Mac, either Zipit, Stuffit Expander, or BOMArchiveHelper will do the job. Archives named .SIT are Aladdin archives from a Mac. You can download Aladdin Expander for either PC or Mac for free from and, respectively.

In the Aircraft folder, make yourself a folder named "Third Party" or "Custom Planes" or something like that. Put the folder tree for your new plane in here. You'll see why when we talk about upgrading.

If you're downloading planes from the registry, check the version number. The registry has separate categories for the major X-Plane versions, but planes don't always get registered in the right categories. Check the individual plane descriptions. The aircraft format changes regurlarly, and planes built for earlier versions will require conversion or fixups. See the Aircraft Format and Conversion page.

How do I install the GloS or SRTM scenery (V6/7)?

Both sceneries are organized and packaged the same way. As you've probably noticed from the web site, the scenery is organized into squares measuring 10x10 degrees, with one RAR archive per square. You will need Stuffit Expander to unpack the archives. Each archive expands into a folder containing the individual one degree .ENV files. (See the scenery page for further explanation.)

How do I install custom scenery?

Caution: The terrain file format changed in X-Plane Version 6 and again in version 6.10. V5 custom scenery packages do not work with V6 or V7 and require significant conversion effort. V8 will accept V7 custom scenery packages. Also note that the folder structure changed after Version 5.54. If you're still running 5.54 or earlier, see the Version 5.54 page.

When X-Plane loads scenery, it looks first in the custom scenery folders on the HD. If it's not there, it looks in the general scenery folders on the HD. Finally (versions 6.04 and earlier only), if it's not there, it looks on the CD. This way, you can supersede the default scenery with custom or modified scenery on your HD. Custom scenery consists of four categories of material:
Most scenery packages will have their contents organized accordingly. You'll find folders named

Custom Terrain Textures,
Custom Objects, and
Custom Object Textures
Earth Nav Data

X-Plane versions 6.50 and later support custom scenery folders. To install custom scenery, simply extract the scenery package archive into the Custom Scenery folder. You should end up with a folder with the name of the custom scenery package inside the Custom Scenery folder. Inside the package folder you should have the above four folders. You'll find a correctly installed example in the X-Plane installation named San Bernardino Example. (Changed to X-Plane Default Demo Area in version 8.)

The following discussion applies to versions of X-Plane earlier than 6.50:

Simply copy the contents of these folders into the corresponding folders in the Resources folder on your HD.

In addition, you'll find in the scenery package one or more folders with 6 digit names, like +040-130. These folders contain the custom ENV files. Copy these into Resources\Earth Nav Data on your HD. If you already have an ENV folder with the same name, you'll have to copy the individual ENVs into the existing folder to avoid losing the others you already have there. If you have existing individual ENVs with the same name, you're stuck. Short of a very tedious process of merging the changes to the ENV, you're going to have to choose between one or the other.

X-Plane allows the custom objects and textures to be organized into subfolders. Scenery packages that take advantage of this feature have their files correspondingly organized. Always place the files as directed by the scenery package. The ENV file contains the path name to the textures and objects, so their location must match what the scenery creator built.

Some scenery packages were designed for earlier versions of X-Plane and instruct you to put the ENV folders into the Additional Nav Data folder. This is out of date, although they will work in versions thru 5.66.. The custom ENV folders must go into Resources\Earth Nav Data. Also note that the ENV folder names always have 3 digits each for latitude and longitude.

Can I upgrade my copy of X-Plane?

X-Plane is upgradeable within each major version. To move to a later major version you'll have to buy the CD or DVD for that version. Minor version upgrades are free. For the last minor version or each major version, see the bottom of the retail CD page.

I'd like to upgrade to a later version of X-Plane.

Typically, you will see both a full download on the FTP site. Sometimes there is also a mini-upate, but these have been rare lately because their installation is relative error-prone.

How do I install a mini-update?

Why is there no mini-update?

The mini-updates require manual installation of the files. This tends to be error prone and has caused so many complaints and support calls that it's been mostly abandoned.

OK - I need to install the full download. How do I install it?

Just expand the archive into a new directory tree, like you did with the original download. If you installed your previous version with an installer (you'll get this with the Windows retail versions), you'll have a set of shortcuts on your desktop or Start menu that point to the old version. Delete these, and if you like, replace them with shortcuts to the new executables. Once you're happy with it and you've rescued anything of yours out of the old tree, delete the old directory tree.

What about the scenery I installed from the CD?

Just move them from their locations in the old X-System folder to the corresponding locations in the new X-System folder:
Don't simply move over the Resources\xxx Nav Data folders, because they also contain the airport and navaid data files, which are frequently updated in new X-Plane versions.

What about my custom planes and scenery?

Custom Planes:
That's why I told you to put your add-on planes into a separate folder. Just move it from the old X-Plane tree into the Planes folder in the new directory tree.

Custom scenery, 6.50 onwards:

Simply move the folders in your Custom Scenery folder from the old version to the new version.

Custom scenery, pre-6.50 to 6.50 and later:
Any custom scenery you have is currently mixed in with the default scenery on the HD. For this upgrade, you'll be best off reinstalling your custom scenery packages into the new Custom Scenery folder so that they're separate from the default scenery. For details, see the installation instructions above. You could just move your existing scenery folders forward, but sooner or later you're going to have to bite the bullet and get with the new custom scenery structure.

Custom scenery, pre-6.50:

Because most of the scenery files shipped with X-Plane don't change from version to version, you're best off moving your Earth Nav Data, Custom Objects, Custom Object Textures, and Custom Terrain Textures folders from your old version to the new version. The only files that get updated regularly are in Earth Nav Data: apt.dat, nav.dat, and fix.dat. Use the new ones from the new version to replace the ones in your old. Check the other folders to make sure you're not missing something new.

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