While FL Studio features a lot of great plugins and effects, you can also install third-party plugins to FL Studio. This gives you the chance to utilize new sounds, effects, and virtual instruments.
Below, I’ll go through step-by-step how to install VST plugins to FL Studio, as well as tips on how to manage your plugins, so they’ll be easier to locate and quicker to access.
Downloading compatible plugins to FL Studio
There are several kinds of plugins out there, but you need to install the types that are compatible with FL Studio.
You can check if the plugins you want to install are compatible with FL Studio by checking the below information:
Plugin Bit-Rate: VST Plugins are available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.
Most people use the 64-bit version of FL Studio, and if that’s what you’re using too then try to install 64-bit plugins. 32-bit plugins will work, but for the best compatibility you should match the plugin bit-rate to the bit-rate of your version of FL Studio.
Some plug-ins will automatically install both 32-bit and 64-bit plugins. However, FL Studio is able to combine the two versions so you don’t have duplicates in your plugins list.
Plugin Format: There are four different plugin formats. These are VST, AU, AAX, and RTAS. The different formats work with different DAWS.
FL Studio uses VST and VST3 format plugins. VST3 plugins are 64-bit and are the most recommended choice.
Most plugin installers will ask you to choose which formats to install for the plugin. But if you only use FL Studio and no other DAWS, you can uncheck the other formats that will appear on the menu and only install VST formats.
But if you use other DAWS, it may be worth installing other formats as well.
Downloading Plugins: When you download most plugins, an installer will be included to help you install the plugin to the correct directory.
If you download a plugin and all you can see is a .dll file, there is no need to worry. Just move or copy that file into the correct folder.
If you download a plugin and it comes in a zip file, just open the zip file to either access the installer or find the .dll file.
This brings us to the next step!
Finding FL Studio’s Plugin Folders
By default, FL Studio will look for plugins in specific folders. Therefore, if a plugin isn’t installed in one of these folders, FL Studio won’t be able to use it.
You can check where your version of FL Studio looks for plugins by going to the Options > Manage Plugins menu. This is where you can edit, install, and manage your plugins.
The directories shown on the ‘Plugin search paths’ panel will show where FL Studio looks for plugins. It looks for plugins in five different directories. You can add a different directory to the list by clicking the folder + icon.
Select the directory you want to use for your plugins and it will be added to the list. If you have used other DAWs previously, then these may be stored in folders created by the DAW. The easiest way to use these plugins is by adding these folders to FL Studio’s list.
Installing Plugins to The Right Folder
Now that I’ve covered where FL Studio looks for plugins, let’s find out how you can install your plugins into these folders.
First, download the plugin from the plugin’s website. Most plugins will give you the option to download either Windows or Mac versions and choose between 32 and 64 bit.
Once the plugin is downloaded, you can either run the installer or copy the plugin files to a folder FL Studio is able to scan.
If you download a .zip file, you’ll need to open the file and extract the plugin file into your plugin folder.
While the method will differ depending on what type of file you are given in the download, you should achieve the same results. You should always be left with some sort of file such as .dll or .vst3 installed in your plugins folder.
Adding New Plugins to FL Studio
Once you have installed your plugin to one of the folders FL Studio is able to scan, you can now open FL Studio and go to the Options > Manage Plugins menu.
You will be presented with a few scan options that you can enable/disable, such as rescanning plugins that have been problematic in the past, or you may be offered to combine 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
To find new plugins, just click the Find More Plugins button and FL Studio will scan the folders.
Once the scan has finished, you can scroll through your list to see if your plugin appears.
Sometimes the name shown on the list will be slightly different to the actual plugin name. To find your new plugins you can use the search bar at the bottom or look at the ‘filename’ column.
But if you still can’t see your plugin, check that it is installed in the correct folder and you have installed the correct format.
If your new plugin shows up on the list of plugins, you can use it straight away. But if you experience difficulty with this, there are a few ways to make your plugins easier to access.
You may have a long list of plugins, this all depends on the edition of FL Studio you purchase. This makes it kind of difficult to find your favorite plugins.
To easily recognise your plugins and have faster access to them, click on a plugin in the Plugin Manager and click the ‘Plugin’ tab.
A panel will then show you all of the options and details for the selected plugin. Renaming the plugin is the easiest way to quickly locate the plug-in. You can name the plugin after the guitar, amp, or even something fun that your eye will be immediately drawn to!