After 10 years of using Ableton Live, I just discovered a genius method for organizing Ableton Vst Plugins in a way that improves workflow tremendously. Click To Tweet
Just to make things clear, this method has been around for ages and it isn’t a method that I personally came up with. It’s just that I never knew this feature even existed until I had an “ah ha” moment. I’ve always been a huge advocate of proper organization of VST’s and samples. Doing so, greatly improves workflow and creativity. Within Ableton, the Ableton Vst Plugins folders (and subfolders) can be arranged and setup via shortcuts copied and pasted into the main vstplugin folder. I’ll show you some clear examples throughout this post.
The Ableton VST Plugins Tab within Ableton:
So in the photo, you see above, this is what my “Ableton Vst Plugins” tab looks like within Ableton. The list of VST’s you see are different types of VST’s, completely unsorted. Meaning, a combination of Ambient VST’s, Monophonic VST’s, Analog VST’s, Vintage VST’s, Hybrid Vst’s, etc. all in one folder. The location of that folder for me would be: C:Drive > Program Files (x86) > Vstplugins (shown below)
Setting Up Folders To Organize VST’s by Category and Type:
So wouldn't it be cool if there was a way that all of these VST's could be organized within the main Ableton Vst Plugins folder by category and type? Well, I have some good news, it is possible! Click To Tweet
Here is an example of how I personally organize all of my VST’s by category/type (for VST instruments):
So doing this keeps my entire Ableton VST Plugins database properly organized. The reason for the ‘#’ symbol is to keep the VST categories listed at the top in alphabetical order so that when I add the categories for VST Effects, the list will keep the instruments and effects listed separately. So I created a folder on my desktop named “Vst Plugins Organized” and created all of the folders inside that folder. Below, you can see the folders listed as such.
Now that my VST folders have been created by category, what I have to now is to go BACK into my main VST plugin Folder (C: Drive > Program Files (x86) > Vstplugins) and go through each and every single VST .dll and figure out which category each VST should fall under. This part is more time consuming because the organization of VST’s will vary depending on the user. It took me roughly an hour and a half to achieve this.
So now, referencing the previous photo, when I double click each folder I have a plethora of VST’s that fall under each category. (This will be shown within Ableton later on down this tutorial.)
Creating Shortcut’s to Each Folder Location to Enable Listing In Ableton’s Plugin Tab:
This next part is actually very simple just make sure you follow these steps to the T to ensure proper setup. What we’ll do now is create a shortcut of every VST folder we created, in a different folder on our desktop. Simply create a new folder on your desktop named, “VST SHORTCUTS”.
Good. The next step is to go BACK into the VST folder you created with all categories (for me it was named “VST Plugins Organized”, and we’re going to right-click on each folder and click “create shortcut” (as seen below). Do this for every folder.
After you’re done it should look like this:
The Final Step: Copying & Pasting The ShortCut Folders into The Main VSTPlugins Folder.
The next step is to highlight all of the shortcut folders that we just created, right click > copy > and then go back to your MAIN vst plugin folder (for me it’s located in C: Drive > Program Files (x86) > Vstplugins) and paste all folders into that folder.
Opening The Ableton Vst Plugins Successfully:
Let’s open up Ableton and see if the plugins were listed successfully. Right Click > Open as Administrator
Success! All VSTi Folders should be listed successfully with dropdown menu’s to show all VST’s listed under each category the way you organized them earlier.
I hope this tutorial helped all of you who use Ableton for music production and weren’t already aware of this awesome feature. Hopefully, this alone can greatly improve your workflow in terms of picking the right VST instruments for your tracks. In the near future, I will also do a MAC tutorial. If you have any questions, please comment them below. Thanks for reading.