To start, let’s divide MO2 into 3 sections; the menu and toolbar, mod order pane and the right pane. We’ll start with the Menu and Toolbar and work our way down. The menu and toolbar provide a means of navigation around MO2 and really have the same functionality. Basically what that means is that you can use whichever you prefer and ignore the other completely. Under file you can find a button to change which game MO2 is managing, install a mod manually or quickly visit Nexus. These are also the first 3 tabs of the toolbar.
In view you can hide or show the menu, toolbar and bottom api status bar. You can also change the toolbar icons size and text. This same menu can also be accessed by right clicking the menu or toolbar sections of MO2. Notifications can also be accessed here or through the icon in the toolbar.
Tools gives you another way to access the other four leftmost icons in the toolbar. These are profiles, executables, plugins and settings. I’ll go over what those do in the toolbar. Run allows you to run executables that you’ve created shortcuts to via this button but these also appear on the right side of your toolbar. Lastly, help gives you a quick way of getting to the MO2 Discord, MO2 Documentation and a way to report any bugs you may find. Help is also the leftmost icon in your toolbar.
Because the toolbar allows you to do everything that the menu does but with fewer clicks I actually just recommend hiding the menu all together by right clicking the the uppermost area of MO2 and unchecking menu. Unless you’re coming from the windows 95 era, it will declutter your manager and just make things more intuitive.
Now let’s go over everything that we have not yet covered in the toolbar. Profiles is a very power feature inside MO2 that you should really be aware of. It allows you to create different Skyrim mod loadouts if you will then switch between them with two simple clicks. No manual uninstallation and reinstallation of countless mods required. Even if you only want to have one profile for each playthrough of the game, this feature is still very useful as it allows you to quickly troubleshoot mod conflicts on a duplicate profile where you can freely disable mods without worrying about having to re enable all the right ones later on. This is a massive time saving feature that you will want to utilize with large mod lists.
In profiles the left pane allows you to see all the profiles that are currently active in MO2. To the right of that you can create, copy, remove or rename profiles. If you have profile specific save games enabled you can also transfer saves here. Profile specific games saves can be enabled for each profile individually at the bottom along with profile specific ini files. I recommend having the latter checked on all profiles as certain mods require specific ini settings and sharing these could make some values nonoptimal.
After profiles we have the modify executables icon represented by two gears. You should know what executables are from the SKSE64 tutorial but just to clarify, these are the same apps that you run from the dropdown list. So basically any program that has to do with modding and needs to access the virtual file system you should add to this list. The upper buttons allow you to add or remove executables, move them up or down in the list and restore MO2 default executables to the top of the list in case you mess something up. Aside from that you can modify existing ones by editing their name, path, base directory and arguments.
Arguments are small commands that can change the way a program behaves on startup and are normally done through shortcuts in windows so they can be useful with certain programs. Overwrite Steam AppID is something I’ve never personally used so don’t worry about it. Create File in Mod Instead of Overwrite is actually really handy for mods that generate automatic patches like Perkus Maximus or FNIS. If you check it pick a mod in the dropdown list that you want the files to go to. Normally this would be an empty mod that you’ve created. Finally, force load libraries is used for Oblivion so don’t worry about it and Use Application’s icon for shortcuts is fairly self explanatory, it just uses the desktop shortcut icons for apps in the toolbar.
The puzzle piece icon in the toolbar represents tools and it currently only includes MO2’s built in ini editor and some FNIS interfunctionality, which is a separate video altogether. For right now, we’re only interested in the ini editor which is a pretty awesome feature in it’s own right. With it you don’t have to hunt down ini files and edit them in notepad, especially since MO2 has profile specific ini files. The profile that is open in the download order pane is the one you edit. Change whatever values you see fit here and click save at the bottom to commit your changes. While you’re clicked inside the text window you can also search the document for setting by using ctrl + f.
The last icon in the toolbar is the screwdriver and wrench and it denotes the settings menu of MO2. In the general tab you can edit the language, the style of your MO2 window so black white or whatever and weather or not you want to opt into the betas of MO2. The user interface can also be changed here. Change the download interface to be more compact or the colors denoting overwrites in the installation pane. You can also configure mod categories here, honestly the default ones are extensive enough for most users so I wouldn’t bother messing with them.
In the paths tab you can find all the directories used by MO2, it’s root paths, and the directory of the game you’re managing. That should be Special Edition. I recommend leaving most of these at default. Just make sure you are managing the correct game.
In the Nexus tab you can find the Nexus API integration which allows MO2 to log into Nexus and receive downloads. There are a few other settings pertaining to Nexus here too but I wouldn’t worry about them.
The steam tab allows MO2 to use your Steam username and password to automatically log into the application. This is obviously for users of a steam copy of Skyrim.
Plugins allows you to see all the plugins installed in MO2. What you see by default was included in your base installation. You can find an additional list of plugins on the MO2 Nexus page.
In workaround you can find a couple neat settings. Like whether MO2 locks itself upon starting an application, whether the default game files are enabled like your DLC or update plugins and whether MO2 displays mods that it isn’t managing. I’d recommend always keeping the latter on.
Finally, the last tab is mostly for development use so I won’t be going over it.
Shortcuts and more
On the right side of the toolbar you can find shortcuts to any applications you have created. You can do this through the shortcuts button located to the right of your executables list. This makes it really easy to quickly run loot or any patchers you may have. The shortcuts button also allows you to create desktop and start menu shortcuts that run the application through MO2. That way you can launch your MO2 modded game through the desktop directly without having to first open MO2 then running SKSE.
After your shortcuts, the toolbar menu includes a MO2 endorsement button which will grey itself out once you’ve endorsed MO2 on Nexus. Don’t forget to do that if you haven’t already to show the developers your support.
Next is the notifications icon which shows you critical information about your load order like whether or not you have any missing master plugins. This is when a mod relies on another mod to function but it’s prerequisite plugin is missing from your load order. The notifications icon will also let you know if any SKSE plugins you have installed have incorrect versions after running the game and also notify you of any files in your overwrite mod. Your overwrite mod can be found at the bottom of your mod list and is the location that any generated file get stored by default.
After that is the update icon which makes sure you have the latest MO2 version installed and the help icon which is exactly like help in the menu drop down list.
As you can see, the menu and toolbar really serve the same purpose so you can use whichever you prefer. I would personally just hid the menu because the toolbar requires fewer clicks.