How to Add and Install Plugins in FL Studio

Learning how to add plugins to FL Studio opens up a world of possibilities. It might seem hard at first, but when you’ve done it once you’ll be able to do it in 30 seconds or less. This is a three-part process, beginning with installing the plugins on your computer, scanning for them, and then adding them to FL Studio. It works the same on both Mac and Windows.

Installing plugins in FL Studio

Download your chosen plugin. You can get free VST plugins from websites such as When you’ve downloaded the plugin, have a look at the filename. If it ends with zip, click on it to unzip it. This will extract the files.

Plugins are installed either by copying the downloaded plugin to a folder or by running an installer that does this for you.

If the downloaded plugin consists of a folder or DLL

If the plugin consists of a folder or DLL file (example.dll), you need to move it manually to the plugin folder so FL Studio can find it. Here are the default plugin folders.


\Program Files\Common Files\VST2 or \Program Files\Common Files\VST3


[Macintosh HD]/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST and Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST3

[Macintosh HD]/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/

If the downloaded plugin consists of an exe or dmg file

Files ending with exe or dmg are installers, and you need to click on them in order for the plugin to install. In most cases, just click next, next and accept the default options

Scanning for Plugins

You now have your plugin on your computer. But you will need to scan for this plugin inside of FL Studio before you can use it. This implies telling FL Studio where on the computer the plugin is located.

1. Go to OPTIONS then Manage plugins.

2. Press “Find more plugins” in order to begin to scan for your plugins.

Make sure the option “verify plugins” is active.

If after the scan your plugin is nowhere to be found. Find the folder where you put the plugin and add it to plugin search paths (marked with a small red box in the image below).

3. Your plugin should now be in the list of plugins, and you can search for it using the find function or by scrolling through the list. Favorite the plugin you want to add by clicking on its star, and you can now begin using your plugin.

How to Add Plugins in FL Studio

In FL Studio, plugins are divided into two categories, effects, and synthesizers. This is important to know because they are added at two different locations.

How to add an Instrument

1. Click on add in the top left corner of FL Studio.

2. Choose an instrument from the list.

3. Go to the channel rack and click on the instrument to open and play it.

How to add an Effect.

1. Click on the Mixer icon at the top of FL Studio.

2. Select an insert in the mixer, you can see them on the left in the picture. Then click any slot (marked in red) and you will be able to pick plugins from a list.


You tried to open an effect plugin into a channel. Open the plugin in the mixer instead.

Sometimes you may be met by this error message “You tried to open an effect plugin into a channel. Open the plugin in the mixer instead”. This happens when you load an effect plugin in the synthesizer section.

To fix this you need to scroll up in this tutorial and see “How to add an Effect. ” and you will see where to add it instead.

My plugin doesn’t show up in the plugin manager.

If your plugin doesn’t show up in the plugin manager and you’ve clicked “find more plugins” then it’s likely that the plugin is not installed correctly or that it’s not in the right location.

To solve this, you need to do one of two things. Either add the folder where you installed the plugin using the plugin search paths. Or examine the plugin closer to see if it’s an installer that you didn’t click on, or if it’s the right file format.

The plugin doesn’t work

Plugins that don’t work are often old plugins that haven’t been updated or fixed. But sometimes the issue is the following.

Some plugins come with multiple files detected by FL Studio as plugins despite only one of the files being a plugin. If you add the wrong file, the plugin won’t work. Therefore if the plugin contained several files you need to pick the correct one from within the plugin manager.