Before installing the mods, a few other things have to be setup
1 - If you haven't already, sign up at the Nexus. (LINK)
It's free, and it takes 2 minutes. The Nexus is a great site for mods in general, so it's definitely worth your time.
2 - Download and install the NexusModManager, "NMM". (LINK) *Install descriptions are found at the Nexus page if needed.
3 - Download and install the Skyrim Script Extender, "SKSE64".
Download the latest SE version. Unpack the file and move the content of the SKSE folder into the Skyrim SE game-folder.
Inside the Skyrim SE game-folder, rename "SkyrimSELauncher.exe" to "SkyrimSELauncher.exe.backup".
Then rename "skse64_loader.exe" to "SkyrimSELauncher.exe".
4 - Download and install
Unpack and copy the files to any folder, then make a shortcut to "SSEEdit.exe".
This tool is used to clean up Bethesda's "lazy edits" from the official DLC-files. See description in the Cleaning section. (LINK)
5 - Download "TES 5 ESS Files Editor". (LINK)
*It's made for the "old" Skyrim, but works perfectly for SSE as well.
Download the latest version and unpack the files into any folder. Make a shortcut to "TESVESSE.exe".
*If you plan to start a new game after following this guide, this file is not really necessary, but I still recommend downloading it just in case. If you want to continue a saved game, then you definitely need this tool. It's used to remove old script data from a save-game file. Unfortunately Skyrim stores scripts in the save-game files, so if you remove a mod which contains scripts, then the scripts stay in the save-game, and can cause all kinds of errors.
6 - Download "xSHADOWMANx's
Download the latest version and unpack into the Skyrim SE game-folder.
7 - Download "SSE Engine Fixes".
Download both files manually, and unpack them into the Skyrim SE game-folder.
Launch the game to see if everything works.
Most importantly, check if SKSE64 is loading correctly. A lot of mods rely on SKSE64, so this is very important. - All it takes to fail is one misplaced file.
To check this, bring up the console* in-game, and type "GetSKSEVersion" without quotes, and hit Enter. If the console shows you a version number, then everything works. If you get an error message, then you need to look at the SKSE files again and find out what went wrong.
*To bring up the console, press the upper left most key below the "esc" key. "~" on US keyboards, "½" on EU keyboards.
Steam users: If you replaced the files as recommended in point 3, you should be able to launch the game via Steam as usual.
9 - Make some coffee and get ready for several hours of downloading and installing. It's a long time, but in the end you will get a result that otherwise would take several months to obtain.
When done installing these basic tools,
please proceed to the cleaning section before going to the mod-list
Proceed to Cleaning
Curious if the results are worth the effort? Here are a few before/after screenshots to give you an idea