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The Sims 3 Custom Content Basics
This guide explains the basics of downloading and installing custom content for The Sims 3. It is not a full guide to every little detail, but a general overview to help you get started. It will also link you to other pages with more information, where needed.
This is a basic summary of the steps detailed below...
- 1. Information: Read about the content before you download it.
- 2. Download: Click on the download link to save the archive file (zip, rar, or 7z) to your computer. Put it somewhere easy to find, like a folder on your Desktop.
- 3. Extract: Use 7-Zip or Keka to extract the custom content file(s) from inside the archive file.
- 4. File Type? Identify which type of file(s) you've extracted - are they .package, .sims3pack, or .sim?
- 5. Install: Install the file(s) in the correct way, according to which type of file they are.
- 6. Play! Your custom content should be working!
More information on these steps is detailed in the rest of this article:
Read About the Content
It may be tempting to just go and download a whole bunch of stuff, but it really is important to read the info about each item before you choose to download it. There's some specific things you should look for:
Certain content may only work with specific expansion or stuff packs, and may only work with certain patch versions. This is especially important with hacks/mods (things that modify game behavior - for example, allowing kleptomaniac sims to steal stuff whenever instead of only after 7 PM) as the game's code may have changed.
A mod that worked with a previous version of the game may have unwanted behavior in later versions (for example, outdated mods might prevent your sims from doing anything but mean interactions with each other).
Make sure the thing you're downloading is compatible with the rest of the content you have. Read carefully about what you're downloading, so you know if there are any known conflicts with other items, or if you can only have one of that type of thing.
Some content overrides (temporarily replaces) game content. For these types of things, you can only have one replacement - one set of default replacement eyes, one set of default replacement skintones (though often creators split them so you can choose only the female skins or only the face skins or whatever), etc.
Mods and hacks can also conflict. Things like core mods (such as Awesomemod) can often conflict with other core mods, and possibly other mods. Most creators of content of this type will list things that are known to conflict with their creation.
Where to Look In-Game
Most content will show up in a particular place in-game. Read the creator's description to see where - for example, a custom pattern might say that it shows up under the "fabric" category. A decorative object might say it shows up in "decorative - misc." Knowing where to look in-game means you'll know whether the item is showing up once you put it in your game, as you're looking in the right place for it.
Some content may be non-standard in the way you have to install it. Sometimes you'll need to delete cache files, start a new save, or otherwise do something a bit different than usual.
Not Enough Info?
If the creator of the item you're looking to download hasn't given enough of the above information, don't risk it and try it anyway - you might cause problems in your game, or break it entirely! Instead, ask questions - post on the download thread if it's on a forum site, or find a contact link to email the creator if it's on a regular website.
When you're sure you want that content and you know all about it, click on the download link to save it to your computer. We recommend you make a folder somewhere easy to find, like on your computer's Desktop or in My Documents. Name it something descriptive, like "TS3 Content" so you know what it is. Then you can save all your files to there and you don't have to hunt for them.
Zip, Rar, and 7z Files
A zip, rar, or 7z file is what is known as an "archive" file. An archive is sort of like a folder on your computer. It has its own name and location, and it can contain other files and folders inside of it. An archive is a bit better than a folder, though, as the files inside it are compressed, so the space taken up on your computer is smaller. This also makes it faster to download, as there's less data being sent.
Opening an archive file and uncompressing the contents to use elsewhere is known as extracting. You will usually need a special program on your computer to extract from most archive files (though your computer may already know how to do this with zip files). There are many programs that can extract from archives, some better than others.
Before you get started with Sims 3 custom content, you should download and install one of these programs to extract from archives. These recommended programs are completely free and totally safe! Just save the program to your computer and double-click it to run it and install it like any program.
Once you've extracted the files from an archive, you can delete the original archive you downloaded - the extracted files are all you need.
- Windows XP/Vista/7: We recommend the use of 7-Zip. For more information on installing 7-Zip and extracting from archives using it, click here: Extracting from Archives Using 7-Zip.
- Mac OSX: We recommend the use of Keka. For more information on installing Keka and extracting from archives using it, see the official Help pages.
Identifying File Types
Before you can use a particular file in your game, you need to know which type of file it is - its type will tell you what to do with it.
You can tell what type of file you have by looking at its file extension. Any other method - like seeing what type of icon it has - isn't really that accurate and can be misleading.
In Windows, you'll need to change an option so that you can view file extensions all the time. To do this:
- 1. Open Any Folder: First open any folder on your computer - it doesn't matter which one. Start > Documents will bring up the Documents folder, and you can do it there.
- 2. Folder Options:
- Windows XP: Click on the Tools menu, then Folder Options.
- Windows Vista: Click on the Layout button at the top left (to the left of the Views button) and choose Folder Options
- Windows 7: Click on Organize at the top left, and then choose "Folder and search options".
- You'll get a window that says "Folder Options" at the top.
- 3. Show Extensions: Click on the View tab, and then look in the list for "Hide extensions for known file types" - make sure this option is not ticked (so the box is empty, with no checkmark) and then click OK.
You should now be seeing file extensions on all files on your computer. If you look at custom content files you download, it should be obvious what type they are - they'll end with .package, .sims3pack, or .sim
Types of Sims 3 Files
How a Sims 3 custom content file files gets installed depends on what kind of file it is - a .sim is installed differently than a .sims3pack. So before you can do anything, you need to know how to identify which is which! Make sure you've read the above section on Identifying File Types!
The three main types of files you'll be seeing as custom content are .package, .sims3pack, and .sim:
Removing Custom Content
So you've gotten content and you don't want it anymore - or your game is having problems and you need to take it out. Don't panic!
We have a full guide on removing custom content... click here: Remove Sims 3 CC Wizard.
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