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How to install a plugin


How do I install a plugin?

There are many ways to install a plugin. In some cases, the supplier of the software offers an automatic installer that does all the job; in other cases, mostly with shareware softwares, you get the plugin under the form of a compressed archive that contains just the executable files and other files such as a manual, a license file, etc. Many users prefer this form of distribution because they want to have full control over what's being copied onto their hard drive and are suspicious when dealing with executable files such as self-extracting archives or automatic installers.

Almost all GSi plugins are distributed in both ways: a Zip archive that contains the files to be manually copied into the appropriate folders on the hard drive, and an automatic installer. Let's take for example VB3, in the list of downloadable files you can see, among other things:

If you are a Windows user, you have to download the files with the label "Windows VST"; if you are a Mac user, instead, you'll have to download the files with the label "OSX VST AU UB". You don't have to download both files necessarily, it depends if you wish to go with the automatic or manual installation.

Now let's see how to manually install the plugin in Windows (XP/Vista/7/8).
Download the file with the label "Windows VST", it's a Zip file that you have to uncompress in a folder of your choice, for example onto your Desktop. You'll find several files. VST plugins under Windows are made in the form of Dynamic Link Library files with the extension .DLL, so the file VB3.DLL is the actual executable file that you have to copy in the appropriate folder so that your host can find and load it properly.
In Windows there's no standard folder for VST Plugins which is defined by default in the operating system, so it depends on the host you're using or how you set up your system the first time you started using VST plugins. If you have Cubase installed, it's much likely that the folder is

C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins

OR, if you have a 64 bit OS:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steinberg\VSTPlugins

and if you have installed Cubase as your first VST host program, probably all other hosts have used the same location for searching VST plugins, because this path has been registered in the Windows Registry. Anyway, you should check with the settings of your host program and verify the correct location.
Also, keep in mind that the folder C:\Program Files\ is localized, it could be translated in your language if you have a non-english Windows installation.

Now that we have found our VST Plugins folder, we can create a sub-folder in it, just to be better organized, name it "VB3" and finally copy the plugin DLL file(s) into it. We're done. All we have to do now is launch the host program and load the plugin.

How to manually install the plugin in Mac OSX.
Download the file with the label "OSX VST AU", it's a Zip file that should be automatically uncompressed once the download has finished and you should see it as a Finder window. VST plugins under OSX are made in the form of bundle files with the extension .vst and AU plugins are bundles with the extension .component
These files have to be copied into the Library.

VST plugins go to this location:


and AU plugins go to this location:


but the problem is that OSX has two distinct libraries with almost the same directory trees but with different roots. The system library starts from /MacintoshHD/ and the user library starts from /MacintoshHD/{your_user_name}/ where {your_user_name} is the user name you're logged in with. Since we're dealing with multi-user operating systems, if you're logged in with a user with no administration rights, you won't be able to write files to the system library, nor your host will be able to read files from there, so you will experience problems if you try to copy the plugin executables into the system library. No problem, use the user library and everything is going to work properly.

PLEASE NOTE: Starting from OSX 10.7 the USER LIBRARY is hidden to the user, please use one of these methods to find and access it.

After launching the plugin for the first time, if you have bought a license, you should authorize the plugin by filling the registration form that appears within the plugin's interface. Sometimes it may happen that the registration is not held correctly, and the plugin asks to register again everytime you launch it. Don't panic, it's a problem of file permissions that need to be corrected. Please refer to this guide. You'll have to set the proper read and write permissions for both your user and the user "everyone" on both the plugin file and all parent folders.

Video Tutorial: How to manually install a plug-in in OSX Lion

This short video tutorial from GSi shows how to manually install a virtual instrument in OSX Lion, and it takes VB3 AU as an example, but the same procedure is valid for both AU and VST formats and works in Mountain Lion too.

The problem with OSX from 10.7 is that the USER LIBRARY is hidden by default. You have to press the OPTION KEY onto your computer keyboard while viewing the Finder "GO" menu, and the menu item "Library" will magically appear!

Also, it is necessary that you are logged in as an administrator user in order to set the proper permissions to files and folders.

Of course this small guide assumes that you know what a Zip file is, how to uncompress it, how to copy/paste files, how to create new directories, and even what a directory, a root and a tree are.

GSi is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned Companies or entities

File last updated: April 28, 2013  


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