Comprehensive Guide to Loading Custom Scenery in X-Plane 12

David Fleischmann Guest

I am looking for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to load scenery in XP12.

Answers 4 Answers

Jump to latest
Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.


I understand you're keen on enhancing your X-Plane 12 experience by adding custom scenery. Let's dive right into a detailed, step-by-step walkthrough on how to do so.

Step 1: Acquire the Scenery Files
Before you can load scenery into XP12, you need the actual scenery files. There are numerous platforms where you can find X-Plane 12 compatible scenery. Remember to only download from reputable sources to ensure both the quality of the scenery and the safety of your system.

Step 2: Extract the Scenery Files
Most scenery files come in .zip format.
- Use a software like WinRAR or 7-Zip to extract the files.
- Ensure the resulting folder contains the necessary '.DSF' and/or '.POL' files. These are essential for XP12 to recognize the scenery.

Step 3: Place the Scenery in the Correct Folder
Navigate to the X-Plane 12 main directory (often located in the 'Program Files' or similar on your PC). Inside the X-Plane 12 directory:

  • Locate the 'Custom Scenery' folder.
  • Move or copy the extracted scenery folder into 'Custom Scenery'.

Step 4: Update the Scenery_Packs.ini File
- Open 'Custom Scenery' and find the 'scenery_packs.ini' file.
- Open it using a text editor (like Notepad).
- If your new scenery isn't listed, add a line at the top (for higher priority) or bottom (for lower priority) in the format SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Your_Scenery_Folder_Name/
- Save and close the file.

Step 5: Load X-Plane 12 and Verify
- Start XP12 and go to the settings menu.
- Under the 'Graphics' tab, you should see a list of all loaded sceneries.
- Ensure your newly added scenery is listed.
- If everything is correct, upon starting a flight in the region covered by your custom scenery, you should see it rendered in-game.

Important Tips:

  • Always back up your 'scenery_packs.ini' file before making changes.
  • Pay attention to scenery layering. Sceneries higher in the list in 'scenery_packs.ini' have priority.
  • From my knowledge, some scenery might require specific libraries. Ensure you have all necessary components to avoid visual glitches.

Final Thoughts
Adding custom scenery can massively improve your simulation experience. It's not just about the visuals, but also the immersion. Fly through regions you know with more authenticity, and discover places you've never been to with incredible detail.

If you have any more questions or face challenges, don't hesitate to ask. If there are specifics about the scenery pack you are trying to load, providing that information will help in offering further guidance.

Safe skies and happy flying!
Ian Stephens

Bob Cameron Guest

I have been watching a Utube video on puting  partitions in  the Custom Scenery file like
etc to tidy it up.
But when I name these new empty files  as above to space the varios categories in Custom Scenery,start X Plane 12,then check the ini, sscenery  pack they are not there.
I am using Windows 10.
I even tried puting new lines  directly into the ini.scenery pack and saving that.
But it is not working
Can you please help

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Certainly, the question you've posed about organizing scenery in X-Plane 12 is quite pertinent for maintaining an orderly simulation environment. The practice of inserting partitions in the 'Custom Scenery' folder for organizational purposes, though well-intentioned, isn't native to the way X-Plane manages scenery. The simulator's engine doesn't recognize folder names as valid entries in the 'scenery_packs.ini' file; it's designed to parse specific file and folder structures.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you address the issue and organize your scenery effectively:

1. Understanding the Scenery Packs INI File:
The 'scenery_packs.ini' file is essentially an index that tells X-Plane the order in which to load your custom scenery. This file is automatically generated and updated by X-Plane and includes entries for each scenery folder within the 'Custom Scenery' directory.

2. Proper Folder Structure:
Each scenery must reside in its own folder within 'Custom Scenery'. X-Plane doesn't support additional sub-folders or "partitioning" within this directory for organizational purposes.

3. Organizing Your Scenery:
If your aim is to tidy up the 'Custom Scenery' folder visually, you may have to resort to naming conventions. For instance, prefixing airport scenery with 'A - ', libraries with 'L - ', and so on. However, this is for your ease only and has no effect on how X-Plane reads and prioritizes the scenery.

4. Editing the INI File:
Manual edits to 'scenery_packs.ini' should reflect the actual folder names of the scenery. If you're adding lines for organizational placeholders (like '...........Airports........'), X-Plane will ignore these upon startup as they don't correspond to actual scenery folders.

5. Maintaining the INI File:
When you make changes to the 'Custom Scenery' folder, such as adding new scenery, X-Plane will update the 'scenery_packs.ini' file the next time it runs. If you want to maintain a specific order, you'll need to edit this file after X-Plane has made its initial auto-update.

6. Troubleshooting:
- Ensure that each scenery folder has the correct file structure and necessary contents (like '.DSF' files).
- Verify that your edits to the 'scenery_packs.ini' file are saved correctly. Sometimes, administrative permissions might prevent changes from being saved, especially in directories like 'Program Files'.
- After editing, right-click on 'scenery_packs.ini', select 'Properties', and ensure it's not set to 'Read-only'.

To directly address the issue of the INI file not updating with your partitioned sections, simply put, X-Plane will not recognize these as valid scenery entries. The simulator expects each line in the 'scenery_packs.ini' file to point to a folder containing actual scenery data.

If you continue to face difficulties, consider the following steps:

  • Check the integrity of your 'scenery_packs.ini' file. Corrupted or incorrectly formatted files can cause X-Plane to ignore changes.
  • Verify that you are not running X-Plane as an Administrator or in a compatibility mode, which could affect how files are saved.
  • As a last resort, you may delete the 'scenery_packs.ini' file and let X-Plane regenerate it. This will reset your scenery order, but it can clear up issues caused by file corruption or misconfiguration.

Remember, while X-Plane's scenery management might seem daunting at first, with a bit of practice, it becomes quite intuitive. I hope this clarification eases your scenery management process. If you have further inquiries or require additional assistance, feel free to reach out.

Peter C H Guest

I am very pleased with the standard xplane 12 Scenery but would like to enhance local scenery for my area in the south of England, eg with the ability to recognise local features e.g. my house and village and local air field details. Is there a recommended package for this.
Thank you

Still does not answer your question? Ask a new question!

If the question and answers provided above do not answer your specific question - why not ask a new question of your own? Our community and flight simulator experts will provided a dedicated and unique answer to your flight sim question. And, you don't even need to register to post your question!

Ask New Question...


Search our questions and answers...

Be sure to search for your question from existing posted questions before asking a new question as your question may already exist from another user. If you're sure your question is unique and hasn't been asked before, consider asking a new question.

Related Questions

Flight Sim Questions that are closely related to this...