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Custom content has always been a part of The Sims series, at least for the PC and Mac games in it. However, how to install it has varied from game to game, and has not always been obvious.

Readers who are unfamiliar with compressed archive files (zip, RAR, and 7z), should read the section on archive files.

File paths given in this guide use the Windows-standard "\" ("backslash") separator. Macs may use a "/" instead.

The Sims[]

In The Sims, different types of custom content are placed in different folders, depending on their file type. There is no need to do anything to the content files other than place them in the correct folders. Sub-folders are not recognized, except in the Downloads folder used for objects.

It is best to set Windows so that file extensions are always shown. When installing content for The Sims, file icons and listed file types should not be considered reliable, as many of the extensions The Sims uses for custom content are also used by other programs, and those extensions may be associated with those programs.

The file paths given below assume a default PC installation to C:\Program Files .[1] Macs may or may not have a Program Files folder. Regardless of install location, and regardless of whether the game is on a PC or Mac, the part of the file path after "The Sims" will be the same.

Objects normally have the extension .iff, but occasionally use .far . They are normally placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\Downloads, and may be placed in sub-folders. They may also be placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\UserObjects

  • Some objects, such as default replacements, may have specific install instructions.
  • Files which modify aspects of game behavior also use the .iff extension, and may have specific install instructions.

Skins, for both Sims and pets, have the extensions .skn and .cmx for meshes. The textures are BMP files, and have the extension .bmp. These files are placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Skins

  • Custom animations, which use the extensions .cfp and .bcx.cmf, are also placed in this folder.

Roof textures are 32x32 BMP files, and have the extension .bmp. They can be distinguished from skin textures by their small size. They are placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Roofs

Walls, including murals, have the extension .wll. They are placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Walls

Floors have the extension .flr. They are placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\GameData\Floors

Lots are a special case. Their filenames take the form HouseXX.iff, where XX is their lot number. They are placed in:
C:\Program Files\Maxis\The Sims\UserDataXX\Houses
The XX is a two-digit number representing the neighborhood. For example, Neighborhood 1 is UserData01, Neighborhood 2 is UserData02, etc.

The Sims 2[]

In The Sims 2, custom content has been simplified. There is one main extension, .package, and one main folder, Downloads, whose location does not depend on the install location. The location of the "Downloads" folder is:
Windows XP:Documents and Settings\(Your User Account)\My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads\
Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac:Users\(Your User Account)\Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\Downloads\

If Nightlife or later is installed, the Downloads folder may contain sub-folders.

As a rule, .package files will not be associated with a program unless a program designed to read them, such as SimPE, is installed.

There is no need to do anything to the package files other than place them in the Downloads folder, or a sub-folder of it. However, it is often necessary for players to manually create the Downloads folder. When doing this, there are two things to keep in mind. One is that, as far as The Sims 2 is concerned, the name of this folder is case-sensitive. The first letter must be an upper-case "D", and all other letters must be lower-case. Also, if the base game was installed by way of a compilation, the base folder name in Documents may be the name of the compilation instead of "The Sims 2". For example, in The Sims 2: Ultimate Collection, the Downloads folder is placed under:
Documents\EA Games\The Sims™ 2 Ultimate Collection\ .

Players should note that some content needs to be placed relative to the game's install folder, or relative to the folder for the latest expansion pack. For Ultimate Collection this is always
C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection\Fun with Pets\SP9\[1][2]

Sims2pack files[]

Some content for The Sims 2 if delivered in files with the extension .sims2pack . A sims2pack file is a form of archive file; the format was designed to work with an installer program[3] that is included with all versions of The Sims 2. The sims2pack format can be used for any type of content, and is the standard format for delivering lots, Sims, and custom pet breeds. This is because the installer is designed to place the lot, Sim, or breed in the proper bin.

By default, double-clicking a sims2pack file will invoke the game's installer. It will open a dialog showing the names and descriptions of all custom content files contained in the sims2pack. (A packaged lot or Sim will commonly contain custom content used by that lot or Sim.) The dialog has two buttons, "Install" and "Cancel". Clicking the Install button will install everything in the sims2pack, regardless of whether it is already present. It cannot be told to install to a sub-folder of the main Downloads folder, and may give an installed package file a "nonsense" filename that is a seemingly-random string of letters and numbers.

An alternative to the game's sims2pack installer is the Sims2pack Clean Installer from Mod The Sims. This program "associates" the sims2pack extension with itself, so it will launch whenever a sims2pack file is double-clicked. It allows players to see what content is in a sims2pack, and to select which parts to install. When installing to the Downloads folder, it allows the player to select a sub-folder. Players can choose to override the default install folder and browse for the folder they wish to extract to. Players with Ultimate Collection will need to do this if they have a version prior to[2]

N.B.: Despite what Clean Installer's main page says about needing to install the .NET framework, this should not be necessary with Vista and later versions of Windows.

Enabling Custom Content[]

In The Sims 2, it is not enough to install custom content correctly. It must be specifically enabled by way of a dialog that appears when the game loads. For players with Nightlife or later, or any stuff pack, this dialog will not appear unless it is enabled in Game Options. Also, custom buy mode and build mode objects will not appear in the catalogs unless the game option "Catalogs Display Custom Content" is set to On. Fortunately, these things only need to be done after the game is first installed, or after adding a new expansion pack or stuff pack.

In addition to enabling custom content, players who want to use recolors of Maxis buy and build objects must use the Color Enable Package.

The Sims 3[]

Installing custom content in The Sims 3 requires some framework. It also requires following some instructions, which vary depending on the type of file being installed. Installation of custom content for The Sims 3 is covered extensively here, and in linked pages.

There are three main file types for The Sims 3 custom content; .package, .sims3pack, and .sim . The .package and .sims3pack files are equivalent to .package and .sims2pack files in The Sims 2, though they use different formats. The .sim extension is used for custom Sims.

The Sims 4[]

In The Sims 4, there are two custom content folders: Tray for lots and Sims, and Mods for other content. Both of these folders are located in:
Windows XP:Documents and Settings\(Your User Account)\My Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4\
Windows Vista, Windows 7/8, Mac:Users\(Your User Account)\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4\

The Mods folder may contain sub-folders. If the Mods folder does not exist, it can be created manually. The Mods folder will contain a file named resource.cfg. If it is deleted, the game should recreate it.[4]

Most content uses the .package extension, though the format is different from that used in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. As in The Sims 2, installing package files is simply a matter of placing them in the Mods folder, or a sub-folder of it; there is no need to do anything to the files other than place them. However, the archive file should not be placed in the Tray folder.

Lots and Sims use several different types of files. Both use a type known as .trayitem . Lots also use .blueprint and .bpi files, while Sims use .hhi, .sgi and .householdbinary files. These files can be installed by extracting them from the archive file they are in, and placing them in the Tray folder; there is no need to do anything else to them.

Script mods come in two cases. One case uses the .pyo extension, and must be left inside its archive in order to function (ie. the archive itself is placed in the mods folder). The other case uses the .ts4script extension, and is installed the same way as a .package file.  Also, script mods must be specifically enabled in Game Options.

Archive files[]

Custom content for games in The Sims series is usually contained in what is known as an "archive" file, usually a .zip, .rar, or .7z file. In some ways, an archive is sort of like a folder; it has its own name and location, and can contain other files and folders inside of it. However, the files inside an archive are compressed, so they take up less space and take less time to download. The files inside an archive must be decompressed and copied to a location outside the archive before they can be used. This is called "extracting", even though the file is not removed from the archive. With custom content, the issue is knowing which files to extract -- and for The Sims, which folder to place them in.

The Sims, The Sims 2, and The Sims 3 do not recognize archive files and cannot read them. While it appears that The Sims 4 does recognize zip files in the Mods folder, it also appears to expect anything in them to be part of a script mod. Therefore, when downloading any Sims content other than a script mod for The Sims 4, the archive files should not be downloaded to any game folder, but can be downloaded to any non-program folder the player chooses. Also, it is not necessary to keep the archive files once the custom content files have been extracted; they can be deleted or moved to an external storage device such as a thumb drive.

Windows and OS X can extract from zip files (which Windows may call "compressed folders"), but users will need a separate program to extract from RAR or 7z files. There are many programs which can extract from archive files, and most can extract from zip, RAR, and 7z files.[5][6] Prices and licenses vary, from commercial, to nagware, to free or open-source.

Identifying file types[]

When installing custom content, it is generally useful to be able to identify the types of files that are in an archive. An archive file may contain files that should not be extracted. For example, it may contain images or text files that are about the custom content, but not part of it.

Identifying a file's type is best done by looking at the file extension; the part of the file name after the final "dot". Other methods, such as looking at the file's icon, can be misleading, particularly when installing content for The Sims. By default, Windows hides file extensions that are associated with a program, even if the Details view is used. However, this can be changed:

  1. Open a folder; it doesn't matter which one.
  2. Enter Folder Options:
    • In Windows XP: Click on the Tools menu, then Folder Options.
    • In Windows Vista: The button at the top left (to the left of the Views button) will say either "Layout" or "Organize". Click it; then click either "Folder Options" or "Folder and Search Options", depending on which one appears.
    • In Windows 7: Click on Organize at the top left, then choose "Folder and search options".
  3. In the "Folder Options" dialog window, click on the View tab. Look in the list for "Hide extensions for known file types". Make sure that the box by this option is empty, with no checkmark, then click OK.


  1. 1.0 1.1 64-bit versions of Windows use "Program Files (x86)" for 32-bit programs.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Game Help:Ultimate Collection FAQs at Mod The Sims
  3. This is "PackageInstaller.exe", formally the The Sims 2 Body Shop Package Installer.
  4. How To Install Custom Content in The Sims 4. SimsVIP.
  5. The zip and 7z formats are open. RAR decompression is open, though RAR compression is proprietary.
  6. Version 5.0 of WinRAR, released in September 2013, introduced a new version of the RAR format called RAR5. Older software will not recognize this new format, and will not be able to open RAR files that use it.

External links[]