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How to Organize VSTs in FL Studio Plugin Database

In this article, I will cover how I like to organize the Plugin database in FL Studio 20.9.

The Plugin database is such a powerful way to organize our plugins in FL Studio. I’ve created this video as a guide for my own personal backup and workflow strategy for plugins in FL Studio.

If you want a good workflow in FL Studio, it ALL COMES DOWN TO ORGANIZATION!!! I cannot stress that enough. It’s all about knowing where your tool is when you need it. And when I say tool, I mean your sounds and plugins, and making sure that you actually have the right tool for the job.

(For example.. do you have a soft and hard clipper? Do you have a nice multi-band compressor? For your drum samples, do you have short-tailed AND long-tailed kick drums? This is how you start building your producer tool box!)

Remember, it’s very important that you choose your sounds and plugins wisely as a producer (read article), because these sounds stay with you FOREVER if you are using them on serious project.. that is because you want to re-open these old projects again in 5 years maybe, right? Make sure you back them up!

In the video above, and within this article, I will teach my own strategy to keep the FL Studio Plugin database nice and organized. It’s based off my own custom music folder (course), which has worked really well for me through my years of using FL Studio. It allows easy transfer to a new computer, and I know where things are for backup purposes.

How Does the Plugin database work?

FL Studio creates three folders for us: Effects, Generators, and Installed.

The FL Studio Plugin database. Organized under a special tab called a snap.

The Difference Between Effects and Generators and Installed Folder

Effects are plugins like Equalizers (EQ), Compressors, Reverbs, Delays, Chorus, Distortion.. and similar effect plugins.

Generators are plugins like instruments, but can also be other things video players.

Note, we only use the Effects and Generators to customize our Plugin database for our own organization purposes. We do not touch the “Installed” folder, we just pull from it! (The plugins stored can be in VST2 or VST3 formats.. VST3 plugins are typically found in the Commons Folder).

Installed is where FL Studio sees all VSTs on your computer, depending what folder paths you included in the FL Studio Plugin Manager, which can be accessed in Settings (F10), selecting the File tab, and selecting “Manage plugins”.

How to access the FL Studio Plugin Manager in the FL Studio F10 Settings.
Hitting F10 is the keyboard shortcut for the settings into the MIDI tab, or you can go Options -> “File settings”, then just select “Manage plugins” like shown in the image above.

Once the FL Studio Plugin Manager is opened, you can add and remove folders to the far left of “Plugin search paths” with the + or x folder icon:

FL Studio Plugin Manager to manage and scan VST plugins.
This is the FL Studio Plugin Manager. You can add and remove folder paths easily, and rescan if you ever add or remove a plugin. Notice, there are many options under “Scan options”. I recommend reading the Image-Line FL Studio help manual about this.

So guess what? The Installed folder now sees all the plugins that the FL Studio Plugin Manager just scanned for you in the various folder paths you’ve included!!!!

After scanning (“Find more plugins” button at top of Plugin Manager), you can now close the Plugin Manager, and go back to the FL Studio Plugin database in the Browser:

Inside Installed, you will now see all the scanned plugins. It sorts them into various audio plugin formats (VST, VST3, and Fruity)

Now, after seeing these different VST formats (VST, VST3, and Fruity), the question is “Which one do you choose?”.

Well, Fruity is FL Studio’s own built-in plugins which are not able to be used outside of FL Studio. So use those for any stock FL Studio plugins!

Now, the industry is continuing to evolve into VST3 format, which is the next version of VST to come (similar to MIDI 2.0), so if your plugin supports VST3, and it works well in FL Studio, I would suggest the VST3 version, as it will have the latest technology built-in and ready to adapt as things evolve. But there’s nothing wrong with VST2, if that’s all your plugin offers, or if the VST3 version is buggy compared to the VST2 version.

When you are installing VSTs, if you just use FL Studio for your audio plugins, then installing only the VST3 version is what I’d suggest! However, if you also use audio plugins for other things, like video editing, then I’d install the VST3 and VST2 64-Bit versions so you can use your high-quality VSTs you are familiar with no matter where you work with audio!

How to Add a VST to the Plugin database

Not only is FL Studio awesome for lifetime free updates, but the workflow is very intuitive and well-thought out.. like I’ll explain when adding a plugin to this database below.

To add a plugin to the Plugin database, we simply open a plugin, and in the top-left menu arrow, select “Add to plugin database (flag as favorite)”. It is as simple as that, and FL Studio will create an image for you, and you’re good to go.

But if you’re reading this, you probably want to get organized in various folders like EQ, Delay, Reverb, then have your various EQ, Delay, and Reverb plugins go into those respective folders.

So the trick is to first go to that particular folder in the Plugin database in the Browser sidebar. You have to click and highlight that folder inside FL Studio, then you can select “Add to plugin database (flag as favorite)”, which will add the plugin and image into that particular folder.

Add to plugin database (flag as favorite) by selecting the top-left arrow menu on and plugin! Remember, there is a difference between Generators and Effects plugins.

Where to Access the Plugin database?

I personally suggest creating the folder structure you want for your Effects and Generators outside of FL Studio. FL Studio will automatically see the updated folder structure when you are adding/removing folders and plugins, which you’ll learn below.

To access the Plugin database, the easiest way is to just right-click a folder like Effects or Generators in the Browser, and select “Open”, which opens the folder for you right away!

But here’s the folder path. Remember, FL Studio now stores all user files in Documents, which is quite easy now!

C:\Users\[*YOUR USERNAME*]\Documents\Image-Line\FL Studio\Presets\Plugin database

So as you can see, the Plugin database for us users to customize our plugins in Effects and Generators lives inside the Documents folder.

By default, FL Studio folder structure is helpful. However, like explained in the video, upon updating, FL Studio would add plugins back and mess up my Plugin database organization I did, which took a couple hours!! So I create an extra folder inside Effects and Generators, and label it as “My Effects” and “My Generators”. I keep those “My” folders backed up, and are my “main copy” of my plugins. I simply copy and paste this “My Effects” folder into a new FL Studio install, which is very quick, and you may have to remove duplicated images (easy fix!).

Now inside “My Effects” I create a custom folder structure like EQ, Reverb, Distortion to stay organized, and so FL Studio will not touch my own folder structure. If FL Studio does update, I can see if I want to use those new plugins, and if not, I can remove them or just leave them depending on how organized you like to get!

You can see the folder in Windows File Explorer.. the folder structure in the Browser’s Plugin database is the exact same! I keep this backed up in the “cloud”, and makes the transfer and update process really easy in case any thing happens.

The Different Files Stored in Plugin Database

Now, when you go “Add to plugin database (flag as favorite)”, FL Studio stores 3 files for each plugin. It has a .fst, .nfo, and .png file. Note, the .png must be hidden so you do not see duplicated files in the Browser!

Here’s a picture of my favorite EQ plugins. You can see each EQ plugin has 3 files (.fst, .nfo, and .png).. and notice the .png file is hidden (more greyed out.. less transparency).

Most Important Plugins for FL Studio

If you take my FL Studio courses, you know I’m a huge fan of FabFilter plugins.

However, if you’re still using stock plugins, here’s some of the best FL Studio stock plugins to keep around in your Plugin Database as your organizing:

  • Fruity Parametric EQ2
  • Fruity Reeverb 2
  • Fruity Delay 3
  • Fruity Stereo Enhancer
  • Fruity Chorus
  • Fruity Blood Overdrive
  • Fruity WaveShaper
  • Fruity Soft Clipper
  • Pitcher

There’s many other powerful FL Studio stock plugins, but these are ones I highly recommend you use! You can view all the FL Studio stock plugins here.

How to Get More Plugins for FL Studio?

There’s a couple things to say about adding more plugins into FL Studio..

That is.. SELECT WISE PLUGINS AS A PRODUCER (to avoid gear lust), and high-quality plugins make all the difference in terms of quality, workflow, and enjoyment!

Watch the video above for how to install plugins in FL Studio within the plugin database!

Wrapping Up FL Studio Plugin database

If you have any questions, please see my FL Studio Plugin database articles.

Organization truly is the #1 most important thing for a music producer, and this Plugin database allows us to access the plugins we want quickly when selecting Generators or Effects in the drop down menus in the Channel rack or Mixer.

If you would like to learn more about my FL Studio organization, view my custom music folder course.

I also have a book about creating your own FL Studio template, as a template can actually do you harm if you don’t set one up tailored to your own workflow! (I also have my own personal FL Studio template to buy).

Finally, feel free to contact me any time, or watch some of my FL Studio courses!

GratuiTous
GratuiTous
GratuiTous (Riley Weller) is a Recognized FL Studio Trainer with over 30 Beatmaking Courses. He writes Beatmaking Books, hosts a free Music Production Podcast, and is always helping his students with private FL Studio Lessons. He also has tons of his own music!

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