The Steam Deck has taken the handheld gaming world by storm since its release in 2022, providing exceptional power and performance in a compact device. One of the Deck’s most useful features is the ability to install Windows apps and games, opening up extensive modding potential.

Vortex by Nexus Mods is one of the most popular mod managers for various games but isn’t natively supported on Linux-based SteamOS. With a few tweaks and adjustments, you can successfully install Vortex on Steam Deck alongside Windows games and access a whole new level of customization and enhancement for your gaming experience.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire process of installing Vortex on your Steam deck, configuring it for your modded games, and managing your mod library. Follow along to unlock the full power of your Steam Deck with Vortex’s modding capabilities.

How to Install Vortex on Steam Deck

  1. Before installing mods, launch Skyrim on your Steam Deck normally to allow the game to create all necessary folders. Start a new game and then quit.
  2. Lowering graphics settings in the original game launcher significantly improves FPS. Open the launcher, select Options, enable windowed fullscreen and borderless mode, set aspect ratio to 16:10 widescreen and resolution to 1280×800. Also, change Detail to High (default is Ultra). You can use Ultra settings when playing the Deck version of the game on your PC at a higher resolution.
  3. Switch the Steam Deck to Desktop Mode.
  4. In the browser, download SKSE from Unzip the files and paste them into the same folder as Skyrim.exe, usually located at: /home/deck/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common/Skyrim Special Edition/
  5. On Pikdum’s GitHub page, under Install, right-click the link and select “Save As.” Name the file install. desktop and save it to the Downloads folder.
  6. Open the install.desktop file and run it. This will perform several setup tasks – let it run to completion. It may take 3-5 minutes.
    This adds a Skyrim Post-Deploy shortcut to the desktop that must be run after installing or changing mods in Vortex.
  7. Once complete, open Vortex from the desktop icon.
  8. Manually set the location of the Skyrim game files in Vortex. Navigate to either the J: or K: drives and select Skyrim Special Edition.
     (J: is internal storage for games, K: is the SD card).
  9. Vortex may display warnings about the staging location and deployment method. Follow the prompts to fix these issues:
    1. The staging folder must be on the same drive as the game. The suggested path should work.
    2. Set the deployment method to hard links.
  10. You can download mods from Nexus Mods or my collection ( When prompted, always associate .nex files to open with Vortex.
  11. An additional pop-up may appear asking to associate mods with Vortex – it may be hidden behind the browser window. Scroll to the bottom and select Vortex.
  12. In Vortex, go to the Dashboard and enable the Toolbar to add tools to the top of Vortex. Remember to run FNIS after installing mods that affect actors/characters, and run Bodyslide to enable physics.
  13. After downloading and installing mods, run the Skyrim Post-Deploy shortcut on the desktop. This MUST be done each time after changing mods in Vortex before launching the game.
  14. Switch back to Gaming Mode and play! No specific Proton version needs to be selected.

Why do You Want It on Your Steam Deck? 

For those unfamiliar, Vortex Mod Manager is a free and open-source mod manager developed by Nexus Mods. It works with many popular games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, Cyberpunk 2077, and others.

Vortex makes modding incredibly easy. It automatically sorts and deploys your mods with the optimal load order. This prevents crashes, conflicts, and other issues. The program also allows you to enable/disable mods and create custom profiles. So you can tailor your experience on a per-game basis.

With the Steam Deck, you can take these awesome Vortex features anywhere. Imagine playing a customized version of Skyrim on a long plane ride or during your commute. But Vortex will let you mod more than just Bethesda games. Any title with Nexus Mods support will work. This opens up many possibilities.

Doom Eternal, No Man’s Sky, Resident Evil Village, and The Witcher 3 — the Steam Deck can now run them with mods optimized by Vortex. So if you want the very best modding experience on your Steam Deck, Vortex is a must-have. The good news is that it’s totally possible to install and run it. This in-depth guide will teach you everything you need to know. Let’s get started.

Prerequisites to Installing Vortex Mod Manager on Steam Deck

Before we move to the installation process, let’s cover the some prerequisites:

  1. A Steam Deck device. This guide is based on the 256GB model but should work for any of them.
  2. The Vortex mod manager. You’ll need to download this on a Windows PC first.
  3. Supported games you want to mod. Vortex works with over 150 titles from Steam, GOG, and more.
  4. A USB-C cable and internet connection for file transfers.
  5. Familiarity with SteamOS and the Steam Deck interface.
  6. Patience and attention to follow each step carefully.

As long as you have those covered, you’ll be ready to put Vortex on your Steam Deck. Now let’s look at how to actually get it up and running.

Tips for Using Vortex Effectively on Your Steam Deck

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of Vortex:

  1. Check for Vortex updates periodically by running it on your PC. New versions sometimes boost compatibility.
  2. If a mod isn’t working, try redeploying it or adjusting the load order. Vortex makes this very easy.
  3. For some games, you may want to launch mods directly rather than through Vortex. It will still handle the mod setup.
  4. Use Vortex to create separate mod profiles so you can customize games differently.
  5. Vortex requires an internet connection to download dependencies on the first launch. After that, you can run it offline.
  6. If Vortex ever stops working after a SteamOS update, just select Proton GE as the compatibility tool.

And that covers all the key steps for installing Vortex mod manager on your Steam Deck! With Vortex up and running, enjoy enhancing your favorite games with awesome mods during your travels. Safe modding!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Like any new software setup, there can be some bumps along the way to getting Vortex working flawlessly on Steam Deck. Here are some common issues and how to solve them:

Mods aren’t appearing in-game: Check that the mod files are located in the correct Proton prefix folder for that game. You may need to move them manually. Also, try redeploying the mods in Vortex.

Vortex isn’t detecting games: Try restarting Steam and/or Vortex. Also, double-check that Proton GE is installed from Steam Compatibility Settings.

Steam Deck freezes when launching Vortex: A sign of compatibility issues. Make sure Developer Mode, latest Proton GE, and graphic drivers are enabled in SteamOS.

Can’t access Nexus Mods links: As noted, you’ll need to browse for mods on Nexus from a desktop PC first before sending them to your Steam Deck via Vortex.

Performance issues with mods: Mods can impact performance, especially intensive graphical ones. Try adjusting in-game video settings or disabling certain demanding mods.

If you run into any other issues, it’s best to consult the official Vortex forums or subreddit, as the community is quite helpful for troubleshooting specific problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – Does Vortex work on every Steam game?

No, Vortex works best for games that use the UNS or VFS mod organization like Skyrim and Fallout 4. Other games may require manual mod installation. Always check on ProtonDB for mod support details.

Q – What is Proton GE and why is it required?

Proton GE is a custom variant of Proton, Valve’s Windows compatibility layer, made specifically for gaming. It often resolves issues running games and software like Vortex. Enable Proton GE in Steam to use it.

Q – Can I mod Steam Deck verified or playable games?

Yes, but verify may lose that status if modded. Valve cannot guarantee that verified status will remain if users modify games, though many still work fine. Check ProtonDB to see mods tested.

Q – Can I use Vortex wirelessly or does it require USB transfer?

Vortex requires USB installation but can run wirelessly after setup. You can use a microSD card instead of USB for the transfer as well.

Q – Do I need to install mods on both PC and Steam Deck?

No, Vortex will manage mods on both devices seamlessly. Install mods only once on the primary device used. Vortex will sync across PC and Steam Deck.


Adding mod support on Steam Deck takes a bit more effort than a regular gaming PC setup. But once Vortex is installed and configured properly, it unlocks a whole new level of customization and functionality for your favorite games on the go.

The key takeaways for utilizing the top mod manager on Steam Deck are:

  • Install Vortex in desktop mode after transferring from a Windows PC
  • Enable Proton GE compatibility layer via Steam settings
  • Set mod staging folder to desired Steam Deck Storage
  • Deploy and organize mods as normal with Vortex
  • Verify mods are installed to correct Proton prefixes
  • Launch games from SteamOS to apply active mods

Following this process carefully will ensure integration vortex mod manager steam deck. And whenever you want to enhance your handheld gameplay, Vortex will be there to help install, manage, and optimize your mods on the fly.

So unlock the full potential of your Steam Deck and elevate your gaming experience to new heights with Vortex. Mods on the go are just a few steps away!