An Add-On (or plug-in) is a third-party tool to extend Blender’s functionality or simplify a workflow. Here’s everything you need to know about installing, activating and managing an add-on in Blender.

Industrial 3D Models in the Blender viewport.
Industrial greeble assets in Blender 3D viewport.

If you are looking for add-ons, here is my list of the best add-ons for Blender.

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Blender Plug-In File Formats

A Zip file for a Blender add-on.

Usually when we purchase or otherwise download an add-on for Blender, we get a .Zip file. You may occasionally run into other compressed file types.

Blender will be looking for a .Zip file so if you got a .Zip file do not unzip it! If you received another file format, you may have to decompress it and then compress it into a .Zip format.

Installing an Add-On in Blender

Here’s the step-by-step process to install and activate an add-on in Blender.

How to Install and Activate Add-ons in BLENDER (Micro Tip)

Step 1: Go to Preferences

To install an addon that does not already come packaged with Blender, navigate to the User Preferences. Go to “Edit” in the Top Bar and choose “preferences.”

Selecting the Blender preferences from the top bar

The preferences window will open. On the left side are several tabs. Select the tab labeled “Add-Ons.”

Step 2: Install Add-On from File

From the preferences window, click the “Install” button on the top right.

The addon preferences including the install button and search field.

Navigate to the location on your computer where the stored .Zip file for the add-on is located. Select the file. Click Install Addon.

An addon is selected and the install button is displayed in the preferences.

Step 3: Activate Add-On

In the preferences window, there is a long list of installed add-ons. Next to each add-on is a check box to activate and de-activate an the add-on.

A red arrow points to the activation box next to an add-on in the preferences window.

At the top right of the add-on preferences is a search box. Type in the name of the add-on you just installed to find it in the list. Check on the box to the left of you add-on to activate it.

For most Blender add-ons, that’s all you need to do. Sometimes an add-on will have an additional set-up step…

Two 3d human models
Human Generator Add-On for Blender

Step 4: Add-On Settings

Some add-ons (not all) require additional set-up steps. To see what additional settings your add-on may have, click the arrow to the left of the add-on’s name in the preferences window.

Here we will see a description of the add-on, where the controls for it are located and other details. If the add-on has fields that need to be completed before it can be used, they will also be here.

Additional addon preferences for a Blender addon in the user preferences.

As an example, the Poly Haven Asset Browser has the above settings which need to be configured before using it.

Here is the official Blender Manual documentation on add-ons.

More About Add-Ons

Add-ons are a powerful way to extend Blender’s functionality and to speed up workflows. There are a lot of add-ons out there. Many of them are free, but some paid ones are worth the investment. Here’s a list of my favorite free add-ons to try out. Stay creative!

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