Adding shaders in Minecraft can make its graphics beautiful. The visual experience won’t be at the level of an AAA game, but the weather effects, textures, water reflections, and certain 3D objects can certainly look less 2D, geometric, and just… barebones. Before we begin, you need to know that shaders are neither Minecraft mods nor texture packs. However you choose to define them, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ll need to install a Minecraft mod to apply them. Luckily, installing mods in Minecraft isn’t forbidden. So, ready to beautify the game while retaining functionality? Let’s get into how to install Minecraft shaders.
Words of warning
Minecraft mods are associated with virus infections and phishing. However, that applies to software downloaded from risky websites or through in-game messages from shady players. We’ll demonstrate the process with reputable software, used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of players. Additionally, shaders can really take a toll on your system resources. Only use them if, while playing the vanilla version of Minecraft, you have a lot of headroom in terms of FPS. Of course, you can always choose to tone down the shader settings or pick a shader that isn’t as demanding.
1. Download OptiFine
Optifine is among the most used mods for Minecraft, and we have used it for years. Here’s how downloading OptiFine works:
- Visit the OptiFine Downloads page
- Select the latest version on the list and click on (Mirror).
- You’ll see on-page ads or a new browser window with ads will open.
- Ignore ads or close the page and click on the Download button.
- The downloaded file will have a .jar extension.
2. Install OptiFine
Since Java is a pre-requisite for Minecraft, you have it installed already and can open .jar files. If not, visit the official Java Download page. Then, follow these steps to install OptiFine:
- Double-click to open the file you downloaded or right-click, select Open with > Java (TM) SE Binary.
- When the installer opens, click on the Install button.
- After a little while, it’ll say OptiFine is successfully installed. Click on OK.
- If you get an error during installation, your OptiFine and Minecraft versions don’t match. Either update your Minecraft to the newest version (recommended) or download an earlier version of OptiFine.
- Open the Minecraft Launcher.
- In the bottom left corner, click on the upward-facing arrow (Latest release) next to the PLAY button.
- Select OptiFine from the list.
- If OptiFine doesn’t appear on the list, click on Installations in the top left corner.
- In the top right corner, under Versions, put a checkmark in front of Modded.
- Click on the big PLAY button, then Play again to confirm you’re using a modded version of Minecraft.
3. Choose and download Minecraft shaders
Obviously, there are thousands of shaders available, and it’s up to your preference which one to pick. Additionally, each shader typically has multiple graphic settings (Low, Medium, High, Ultra, Extreme) that you can download based on your computer specifications. We’ll make a list of the best shaders for Minecraft shortly, so stay tuned. Also, all shaders come in form of a .zip or .rar archive and need to be extracted.
Tip: Once you extract the shader, open the main folder, for example, Chocapic 13.9. If it only has one folder named shaders inside, you’re ready for the next step. If it has multiple folders with different names (for example, Chocapic 13.9 Low, Chocapic 13.9 High), drag the shader folder outside of the main folder and make sure that it only has the shaders folder inside.
4. Install the shader in Minecraft
Your Minecraft window should still be open. Here’s how to apply shaders in Minecraft:
- Click on the Options button in the bottom left corner.
- Select Video Settings…
- Click on Shaders…
- If it says Shaders are not compatible with Antialiasing, click on Quality under Video Settings…, then turn Antialiasing to OFF.
- Click on Shaders Folder in the bottom left corner.
- This opens a folder where shaders are stored in. By default, this is C:/Users/User Account Name/AppData/Roaming/.minecraft/shaderpacks.
- Copy/cut the shader folder from where you extracted it, and paste it into the shaderpacks folder. To clarify, it should look like this: ~/shaderpacks/Chocopic13.9/shaders.
- Close the window and shaders will appear on the list inside Minecraft.
- Select a shader by clicking on it, then click on Done.
- Congratulations, you now know how to play with shaders in Minecraft!
- Tip: Play around with settings buttons for the currently enabled shader on the right side. You can also click on Shader Options in the bottom right corner.
- Tip 2: You don’t have to quit Minecraft to change shaders. Press ESC (Escape) on your keyboard, and select a different one from Options > Video Settings… > Shaders…
- Tip 3: Always read descriptions of Minecraft shaders you’re using. Some require you to disable default Minecraft elements such as clouds, lighting, shadows, or animations so that a shader replacement can be displayed.