Skip to main content

How to install Minecraft mods: Forge vs Fabric, and which mod launcher to use

Want to start modding Minecraft? Here's what you need to know!

Want to know how to install Minecraft mods? Modding is one of the very best things about Minecraft, building upon the foundation of Mojang's colossal sandbox to give players a plethora of brand new experiences. We've already put together our list of the best Minecraft mods we've come across, but if you're looking for a tutorial on how to start using these mods, this is the guide for you.

On this page we'll explain how to install any Minecraft mod. We'll also explore the two main mod loaders - Forge and Fabric - and which one you should pick while modding in Minecraft. And further below we'll offer some recommended mod launchers to help make the modding process much simpler and easier for you.

Watch on YouTube

How to install Minecraft mods: Forge vs Fabric

You'll need a mod loader to run Minecraft mods. Loaders are essentially tools that make mods work in the first place, and only certain mods, like Optifine, can run without a mod loader.

The most common loaders are Forge and Fabric, and choosing between the two depends on which mods you want to use. Both mod loaders do their job well, so you should first pick the mods you really want to use. If they say they're only compatible with one or the other mod loader, then your choice is already made.

Forge has the advantage of being older and more popular, which means lots of mods can only be run on Forge rather than Fabric. This also makes it easier to create modpacks of mods which are all compatible with Forge.

On the other hand, Fabric has been catching up in recent years and now there are many (not as many, but still many) mods which can only be run on Fabric. It also has the advantage of being the more lightweight and user-friendly of the two choices, in my opinion.

A river on the edge of a forest in Minecraft, with extreme hills on the left in the distance.
Optifine, which lets you install gorgeous shaders like this one, is one of the few mods that doesn't require a loader like Forge or Fabric.

Launching Minecraft mods manually

Once you've chosen your mod loader, it's time to select your mod launcher. If loaders are the tools that make mods work, launchers package these tools and integrate them properly into your Minecraft game.

You now have a choice: will you use a third-party Minecraft mod launcher, or would you prefer to do everything manually via the official Minecraft launcher? Generally, third-party launchers are a bit easier, since they consolidate everything in one place. For example, if you're using MultiMC, you can download and install individual mods and modpacks from within the launcher itself. You can also use Forge and Fabric within MultiMC.

However, maybe you'd rather stick with the standard Minecraft launcher. You can still easily play with mods, though you'll need to move some files around yourself. Here's how to install Minecraft mods without a mod launcher:

  1. Download the mod(s) you wish to use. Minecraft mods are written in Java and end in a .jar file format, so you may need to install Java on your PC if you don't already have it.
  2. Open Windows Explorer and type "%appdata%\.minecraft" into the address bar.
  3. If you don't yet have a mods folder in your ".minecraft" directory, create one.
  4. Move the downloaded Exectutable .jar File for each mod into your "mods" folder.
  5. Install Forge or Fabric if needed, and let it create a new Minecraft instance for you.
  6. Run Minecraft, select the instance you want to run, and click Play.

Which Minecraft mod launcher should you use?

If you've decided to use a third-party Minecraft mod launcher to organise and run your mods, you have a wealth of options. Here are a few recommendations for mod launchers.


MultiMC is generally considered to be the gold standard when it comes to third-party Minecraft launchers. It's very easy with MultiMC to create new instances of Minecraft, pick the version, and then load it up with all the mods your heart desires. It's easy to configure and make changes to existing instances when you want to add new mods or disable outdated mods.


ATLauncher is steadily making a name for itself as a lightweight and powerful Minecraft launcher capable of adding modpacks and mods to your game with ease. The UI isn't exactly beautiful, but it's a reliable and easy-to-use tool that will allow you to browse and install mods without any unexpected difficulties.


The CurseForge app has support for a great many games besides Minecraft, but you can easily just use it as a Minecraft launcher. It's a sleek and clean launcher which allows you to very easily incorporate CurseForge mods and modpacks into your game.

A screenshot of the MultiMC launcher for Minecraft, showing a list of installed mods.
MultiMC, a Minecraft mod launcher, gives players an easy user interface to help them set up Minecraft with mods.

That wraps up this quick primer on how to get started modding your Minecraft games. If you want to take your Minecraft worlds to the next level after all your chosen mods are installed, check out our list of the best Minecraft shaders. You can also use mods to help create fantastic builds in Minecraft Creative Mode, so why not take a look at our pages of Minecraft build ideas and Minecraft house ideas for inspiration?

Read this next