If your Skyrim is stuck at “Preparing to launch”, or if it just won’t launch when hitting the Play button, you can follow this troubleshooting guide to sort out the issue. Please read on and narrow it down to find the best solution.

  1. Close background applications
  2. Run Skyrim as an administrator
  3. Update your graphics driver
  4. Repair corrupt game files
  5. Check for mod conflicts
  6. Reinstall Skyrim
  7. Update Visual Studio C++ 2015 Redistributable
  8. Repair corrupt system files

Before we start troubleshooting, please check if your computer meets the minimum system requirements of the game. Sometimes Skyrim can crash at startup due to limited hardware resources. For your reference, below are the system requirements of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition.

Minimum Recommended
OS Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit Version) Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit Version)
Processor Intel i5-750/AMD Phenom II X4-945 Intel i5-2400/AMD FX-8320
Memory 8 GB RAM 8 GB RAM
Graphics NVIDIA GTX 470 1GB /AMD HD 7870 2GB NVIDIA GTX 780 3GB /AMD R9 290 4GB
Storage 12 GB available space 12 GB available space

Note that the minimum system requirements can’t ensure that Skyrim will always run properly on your PC. Due to some technical factors (e.g. build-up cache, high CPU usage, etc), you may encounter the Skyrim not launching issue as well. Hence, you can go through the below troubleshooting tips and see if it helps. Otherwise, you’ll have to upgrade your computer build to the recommended.

In this guide, all the screenshots are taken on Windows 11, but the instructions also work on Windows 10.

1. Close background applications

If Skyrim fails to launch or crashes at startup, you have to check if there are too many applications running in the background, as they will consume a lot of processing resources. If this is the case, follow the steps below to shut them down.

  1. On your keyboard, press Ctrl, Alt and Delete together to open Task Manager.
  2. Click More details to show more background processes.
  3. Click Options in the top menu bar, then select Always On Top.
  4. Once you’ve identified any process as unnecessary, select it and click End Task on the bottom right.

Please note that closing anything related to Windows/Microsoft can make your computer unstable. And as a reminder, always keep your computer in a cool environment with enough airflow, as high temperature will cause overheating to your computer and slow down your CPU performance.

Once you close the background apps, re-launch your Skyrim and see if it launches properly. If it still cannot launch, then move on to the next solution.

2. Run Skyrim as an administrator

Sometimes Skyrim needs elevated permissions to launch properly, according to some users. Therefore, you can try granting administrative privilege to Skyrim and see if it helps. Additionally, if you’re playing Skyrim on Steam, it’s recommended to run Steam with administrative powers as well.

To run Steam as an administrator:

  1. Navigate to the Steam executable. (By default, you can find it in this location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam.)
  2. Right-click the executable file and select Properties.
  3. Click the Compatibility tab, and then check the Run this program as an administrator box and click Apply.

To run Skyrim as an Administrator:

  1. Open Steam and go to Library.
  2. Right-click The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition and select Properties.
  3. Select the Local Files tab and click Browse Local Files.
  4. Right-click the game executable (the application) and select Properties.
  5. Click the Compatibility tab and then check the Run this program as an administrator box and click Apply.

Once done, restart Steam and try launching Skyrim again. If Skyrim still won’t launch at all, continue with the next tip.

3. Update your graphics driver

If Skyrim keeps unable to launch or crashing at startup, one of the first things you should do is update your graphics card driver, since an up-to-date graphics driver always ensures the best gaming performance and fewer bugs.

To update your display card driver, here’s what you can do:

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows key and X at the same time, and select Device Manager.
  2. Double-click to expand the category Display adapters. Then right-click your graphic card driver and click Update driver (the name of the device can be different on your computer).
  3. Then click Search automatically for updated driver software.
  4. Wait for Windows to find the latest driver available for you.
  5. When the driver update is done, restart your computer for the change to take effect.
  6. Then check and see if the problem is fixed.

Sometimes Windows may tell you that “the best drivers for your device are already installed”. However, it’s not always accurate since Microsoft doesn’t have access to all the newly released drivers for your devices.

Therefore, if Device Manager doesn’t find you the latest graphics driver, we recommend using Driver Techie to scan and repair outdated, corrupt, or missing drivers. It works in most cases where you have a driver-related issue. You can download Driver Techie by Clicking Here or following the guide below.

To use Driver Techie to find you the latest graphics driver:

  1. Download and install Driver Techie, then launch it.
  2. Click Scan Now.
  3. After the scan, select all the drivers you need to update and click Update All (for Pro subscribers), and all your drivers will be updated automatically. (Please note that you can only update the driver one at a time if you use a free version. To see how to manually update the drivers one by one, please check this post.)

Driver Techie involves direct human review of the driver database by our engineers, which ensures you always have the safest and latest device drivers. You can rest assured that all your device drivers are in good hands.

Furthermore, if you’ve subscribed to Driver Techie Pro, and need our technical support to help with the Skyrim not launching problem, please feel free to contact <support@drivertechie.com>.

4. Repair corrupt game files

If you’re playing Skyrim on Steam, ensure that the game files have not been damaged and are functioning properly. If the game files are corrupted, you won’t be able to launch Skyrim properly and will also experience crashing issues.

It is therefore necessary to verify the integrity of game files and to repair them if they are damaged. Here are the steps:

On Steam:

  1. Launch Steam and select Library.
  2. Right-click Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and select Properties.
  3. Click the Local Files tab and select Verify Integrity of Game Files.

Now, check if your Skyrim is able to launch. If you still cannot launch Skyrim properly, move on to the next fix.

5. Check for mod conflicts

Adding mods to Skyrim can be an instant way to improve the gaming experience. In some cases, however, they can be incompatible with the game settings and thus prevent Skyrim from launching. To fix this, follow these steps:

  1. To start with, disable all the mods you’ve installed on Skyrim. Then, check if the game launches properly. If the problem persists, please skip to Tip #6. If it runs properly, then proceed with the next step.
  2. Now, re-enable the mods one at a time before launching Skyrim. Once the game runs into the launching issue, you can identify the problematic mod.
  3. Remove the mod that prevents Skyrim from launching.

Hopefully, you will be able to launch Skyrim again. If Skyrim cannot launch with any mod, you’ll have to reinstall the game. Please continue with Tip #6.

6. Reinstall Skyrim

If Skyrim is incompatible with all the mods, or if it still cannot launch even when all the mods are disabled, then you can try reinstalling the game. This will restore your Skyrim to a clean version so that you can play it smoothly.

To reinstall Skyrim:

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key and R at the same time to invoke the Run prompt. Type appwiz.cpl and hit Enter, and then you will see all the apps installed on your PC.
  2. Right-click The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition and select Uninstall.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete.
  4. Once done, restart Steam and re-download Skyrim.

Check if the new Skyrim launches properly. If not, then you may have other problems with your system. Please continue with the next method.

7. Update Visual Studio C++ 2015 Redistributable

In order to run Skyrim successfully, your computer needs Visual C++ Redistributable, which works as an essential system tool or even a part of Windows.

The reason why your Skyrim won’t launch could relate to outdated Visual C++ Redistributable, or because the tool is missing or corrupt. Although Windows Updates can help you install some patches for your games, it doesn’t always provide you with the one that you actually need. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to do it manually.

To do this:

  1. Download and install the latest version of Visual C++ Redistributable.
  2. Re-launch the game to check if the issue persists.

If Skyrim still cannot launch, then proceed with the next tip.

8. Repair corrupt system files

If there are corrupt or missing files on your system, your Skyrim will be unable to launch properly either. In this case, we recommend running an SFC scan. It would help detect and repair corrupt or missing system files. Here are the steps:

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key and R together to invoke the Run prompt, type cmd, and press Shift, Ctrl, and Enter together to launch the Command prompt.
  2. Paste the following command lines and press Enter to execute:
    sfc /scannow

  3. Wait until the verification is 100% complete. The scan results will be shown after this process is finished.

If SFC tells you there are corrupt system files that cannot be fixed, you’ll have to perform a clean reinstall for your system. It’ll restore your Windows to a clean version and those corrupted files will be fixed as well. This works for many of those affected by the Skyrim not launching issue.

To do the clean reinstall:

  1. Click Start > Settings > System > Recovery > Reset PC

  2. Before the reset starts, you’ll be prompted to choose either Keep your files or Remove everything. In this case, you don’t have to remove everything on your system, so just choose to keep your files and then proceed.
  3. Next, you can either choose Cloud download or Local reinstall. Cloud download means you will get the latest version of Windows 11 from Microsoft, whereas Local reinstall is to reinstall the Windows version that you’re currently using. Both of them are OK, albeit Cloud download requires more than 4GB of data.
  4. Now, confirm the settings you made and click Next > Reset to begin the reinstall.
  5. Wait until the process finishes. Note that Windows will restart while resetting.

Once complete, sign in to your system and try launching your Skyrim again.


If Skyrim is having issues launching on your computer, the reasons can be:

  • High CPU usage/Overheating
  • Compatibility issues
  • Outdated/corrupt/missing graphics driver.
  • Corrupt/missing game files.
  • Corrupt/missing system files.

You can narrow down the reasons by following the tips in this troubleshooting guide. It should help you fix the Skyrim not launching problem. If you have any follow-up questions, please let us know in the comments.