This article is about the X-Plane Custom Scenery folder (X-Plane\Custom
Scenery) which is created during X-Plane installation, and
how it can be used to enhance your X-Plane experience. Within
the Custom Scenery folder you will find a number of folders
which X-Plane loads as it starts up. The order of those folders
at startup is important, and is determined at run time by the
included scenery_packs.ini file, which you will find at the
bottom of the Custom Scenery folder.
Where to find Scenery
All X-Plane users should go-to https://forums.x-plane.org and
sign up. "The Org" as it is often known contains
a huge database of freeware files, aircraft, instructions and
To access the library download pages within
the site directly, go to
Many users will install all or nearly all the libraries. It
only needs to be done once, as they are accessed by multiple
sceneries. They are updated from
time to time, and if this is the case, X-Plane will tell
you during start-up. It is not unusual for one scenery file to
need up to 10 libraries for it to work correctly.
Installing Scenery & Libraries
The method that works for many users is to UNZIP the downloaded
.ZIP scenery file into an empty temporary folder, then copy
and paste the folder which was contained within the ZIP as
is, into the Custom Scenery folder without any changes. There
should some installation instructions included in the zip,
or at least be a text file describing the scenery. While
not necessary to export this, it is often useful
to leave it there for future reference.
Another method, which does not always work correctly, is to copy
the zip file into Custom Scenery and unzip it there.. This
method is known to sometimes create a further sub folder within
the custom scenery folder i.e. Custom Scenery\Your_new_scenery\Your_new_scenery.
If that happens the scenery will be "buried" one layer too
deep and will not display. If this does happen, then CUT (not
COPY) the lower one and PASTE it up one level, and when
prompted that a folder of that name already exists, select "overwrite" the
existing one, which will be empty.
The creation of airport scenery for X-Plane is a 2-stage process.
First, the designer creates the base airfield using
a readily available freeware scenery editor which contains the
necessary tools to create the runways/taxiways
Secondly, in order to populate the airfield with buildings, static
aircraft and other "furniture" the designer
makes use of a number of libraries. These libraries
contains OBJECTS which the designer can choose
from to add to his airport. A library will contain many objects,
of which the author may use one (or more), but the entire library
must be downloaded together with all the other required libraries
for that scenery, as well as the scenery file.
The installation instructions for the scenery will almost invariably
include information about how to download the libraries, which
are rarely created by or downloaded from the scenery designer's
The logic behind this system is that the library
objects are NOT physically installed into the scenery, but remain
separate. They are symbolically linked between the scenery
and the library when X-Plane is required to display that airport.
Therefore it is essential that both are installed
into the Custom Scenery folder.
As mentioned in the introduction, the scenery_pack.ini file
determines the order in which the files are loaded as X-Plane
starts. If the order is wrong, then you may not see the scenery
you expect to see! To ensure that you get the scenery order
right, follow the procedure below.
Install your scenery in X-Plane\Custom Scenery as instructed by the scenery author
Run X-Plane briefly then exit. This adds the necessary data to the file scenery_packs.ini
Open the scenery_pack.ini file with a text editor and rearrange the file names in the followng order
Your downloaded scenery
Aerosoft default scenery
Ortho4XP_Overlays (*optional - only if you are using OrthoXP)
Libraries (all the ones you need - no exceptions. Some X-Plane uses install all the libraries available just in case, but this is perhaps a bit extreme for most users.
Zortho4XP (*optional - only if you are using OrthoXP)
The Z prefix on the last two items helps to ensure that they are listed last in the file if using the scenery file organiser XOrganiser.
If you would like to install photographic scenery for X-Plane
so that you can fly over the real landscape, then this website is
a very good starting point, but be warned, the process is not
particularly simple, and the downloaded files can be huge (Gigabytes!).
Another method is to use a utility called Xorganiser. This
works with the .INI file outside X-Plane. It also has other
functions such as switching off/on sceneries if performance
or load times are an issue.