When watching building tutorials on YouTube or TikTok, you may have noticed that Minecraft has a lot better graphics than what is natively in the game.
Minecraft YouTubers aren’t using fancy video editing tricks in order to achieve this look.
They’re using shaders, which enhance graphical features such as sunlight, reflections, water, grass, and more.
How To Get Shaders In Minecraft
In order to get shaders in Minecraft, you will need the Java edition of Minecraft, a computer that can handle the graphical increase, and to do some light modification, or “modding”.
If you have a difficult time going through files and understanding load order, this may be a challenge for you.
Those who have modded games before will find the process to be much easier than most modern games.
Shaders are game modifications, more commonly known as mods, which have been created and released by fans that help improve the graphics of the game.
They can help water look more realistic and trees blow in the wind.
These game modifications are purely meant to help make the graphics look more realistic and the world seem more alive.
When you see someone with waves in their water, you know they’re using a shader.
Shaders can also improve the look of glass panes and blocks.
You are only able to apply game modifications on the Java edition of Minecraft, which is only for computer players.
Bedrock has extremely limited mod selection because all additional content for the game can only be found in the Minecraft store.
Your computer must also be capable of handling the graphics once they’re running.
A computer that can truly run with the shaders applied won’t make your game lag and resemble more of a slideshow than a video game.
Trying to run Minecraft with shaders on a computer that can’t handle it will cause the game to crash frequently, a long delay in controls, and could even damage your computer.
If you notice that your game is barely able to run when you boot it up with shaders, try running fewer shaders until the game is able to properly function again.
Step 1: Check Which Update You’re Playing
The first step you will want to take is to figure out which update you’re playing.
This will help you find shaders that are compatible with your version of Minecraft.
The most difficult part of playing with shaders is that they have to be completely compatible with the version of Minecraft that you’re running, and they are updated much more slowly than the game.
Shaders aren’t made by Mojang, but rather by fans who are often unpaid for their efforts.
For many mod creators, it’s simply a hobby, much like painting or playing an instrument.
Most mod creators also have multiple mods that need updating every single time Minecraft updates.
The mod creators must then go through each aspect of their game modification and adapt it to the newest update and any additional content that has been added to the game.
Players who use mods are often slow to update their game for this reason.
The current version of Minecraft is 1.17.1, which was introduced on June 18th, 2021.
There are very few mods available for 1.17.1, so players with modded games are still playing on the 1.16.5 version of the game, from January 13th, 2021.
You are able to swap between the versions of Minecraft you are playing in the Java edition.
From your launcher start menu, choose Installations, and then click on New.
When you create a new installation, you will be asked to name it and choose a version from the Version list.
To save the changes you’ve made, you will want to hit Create followed by Play.
When you open the Launcher landing page, you will need to find your saved installation and click it in order to change the version of Minecraft that you’re playing.
Step 2: Download Minecraft Forge
In order to make the entire modding process easier, there is an online tool called Minecraft Forge.
Forge handles a lot of the tedious work of modding for you.
You will need to make sure that your version of Forge is compatible with the version of Minecraft that you are playing.
Forge is a Minecraft API, which acts as the bridge between mods and the game.
It gives the user more flexibility with the game’s code, allowing mods to be intertwined with the game’s code.
Once Forge has been downloaded, you will need to go into your file manager and look for the “.jar” file that will appear under the Downloads tab.
Open the file and choose “Install client”.
Once it is done, you will receive a notification.
Boot up Minecraft, choose the Forge profile, and then click Play.
Forge will be downloaded and ready to assist you at this point.
On Forge’s website, you can find all the mods that are compatible with Forge and the version of the game you are playing.
Step 3: Find Compatible Shaders
Whether or not you have decided to swap versions of the game, you will still need to make sure that your shaders are compatible with the version of Minecraft that you’re playing.
Otherwise, your game will not apply the shaders or may not even run at all.
Because of the delayed time in between when new updates are released for Minecraft and when mods that work for that version come out, those looking for a more diverse assortment of mods will remain with 1.16.5.
Older mods also have the advantage of not being as glitchy or filled with as many bugs.
Many mods are updated multiple times in a single version in order to work out any issues that may arise with the game modification.
You will also need to find shaders that are compatible with Forge.
In the description of the shader, you can find whether or not it works with Forge or another Minecraft API.
Forge is the most common API used by players and modification developers.
Compiling a list of the type of shaders that you are looking for will help make your modding experience much easier.
A water enhancement shader will give you glistening seas and rushing waterfalls.
Tree shaders will help give the leaves better textures and flow in the wind.
If you’re looking to make your game more picturesque, you are going to want a light shader.
This will help give sunlight a realistic glow, according to the time of day.
Mornings will have cooler light while evenings will have a warmer glow to them.
Light shaders also change how light emits from other light sources as well, such as torches, shroom lights, glowstone, or sea lanterns.
Fires will flicker and have a hot glow that reflects off of nearby blocks.
Step 4: Find The Shaders
Sometimes, it can be tricky to find reliable places to get mods from, especially for your exact version of Minecraft and API type.
The best place to find Minecraft modification is CurseForge.
CurseForge doesn’t have the largest selection of mods, but it is the safest and most reliable.
Two of the best shaders for Minecraft are the Complementary Shaders modpack and the Beyond Belief modpack.
A modpack is every file you need in order to create and run a function modification for your game.
The Complementary Shaders modpack is a simple, commonly used shader that helps give your game that indescribable touch that you may see in the Minecraft tutorial.
This modpack is all about keeping the original feel and aesthetic of Minecraft while giving it a more modern feel.
Complementary Shaders enhances the performance of your game by increasing your draw distance and increasing the amounts of frames per second.
It is also the most compatible modpack available on CurseForge.
This shader gives your game beautiful, flowing water.
The way the sun shines against the water in the evening is almost as breathtaking as if you were seeing it in person.
Those who are looking to keep the basic feel of Minecraft and want only to increase the quality of the graphics will want to download this shader.
Some players are not satisfied with the simplistic upgrade that Complementary Shaders gives your game, so they will most commonly turn to Beyond Belief Shaders.
The Beyond Belief Shader goes beyond what the average player would think about to give Minecraft as real an experience as possible.
This shader adds wet effects that give different materials a wet look that is akin to their real-life counterparts.
Beyond Belief Shaders even adds cell shading.
It does everything that Complementary Shaders does and so much more.
Step 5: Download The Shaders
Once you have found the shaders you want to use, you will need to find the download button.
It is a translucent button with black outlining that will be at the top of the screen, across from the name of the shader.
By hitting download, you will be sent another page on CurseForge, and your modpack will begin downloading.
Don’t download any more modpacks until you have fully installed your first modpack.
Once your modpack has been downloaded, go into the downloads tab of your file explorer, and drag Forge and your shader to your desktop.
If you see a zipper on your file icon, that means that your shader needs to be unzipped.
Many game modifications will not work unless they are unzipped.
It is the tiniest step in the downloading process that can completely stop your shaders from working if it is not done correctly.
You will know that you have to unzip a shader file if it shows you multiple versions rather than just saying “Shaders”.
When you extract the file, it will create a duplicated version of the folder.
You can then throw the original file in your recycle bin and begin working with your new file.
In the unzipped file, you will see the option to have multiple versions of the shader, typically averaging from low to extreme.
If you have a lower-end gaming computer, choose the low file.
Most gaming computers will be able to run medium, while some may be able to manage with high.
Extremely, often also referred to as ultimate or maximum, is reversed for high-end gaming computers.
Overestimating your computer will only result in you needing to go back and fix it.
Step 6: File Placement
Before going into the placements of your shader files, you will need to focus on your Forge files.
Unzip the Forge file and find the executable file, which is labeled with an ending of “.exe”.
This will cause the launcher to open up.
Once you are in the launcher menu, it will ask for your Minecraft directory.
A game directory is wherever you keep your Minecraft files.
To find your Minecraft directory, you will need to click the window key on your keyboard and the R key at the same time.
This will bring up a search bar for you that pertains to your computer files and directory.
Type “%appdata%” to open up your roaming folder.
Near the top of the folder should be “.Minecraft”.
Inside here, you will find a file labeled “Shaders” already in there if you correctly installed Forge.
If you don’t find a file labeled “shaders”, then you will have to click on the folder inside that is labeled “versions”.
Inside the versions folder should be your Forge build.
Once you’re in the version file, you need to find the version of Forge that is compatible with the version of Minecraft that you’re playing.
Inside the Forge build, there will be a file labeled “shaders”.
No matter which way you took to find your shader file, simply drop all of the shaders you want to download into the file.
Before testing your shaders, open up your Minecraft launcher to ensure that you are playing the Forge version of Minecraft, rather than vanilla Minecraft.
The vanilla version of a game refers to it not having any modifications.
A Warning Before Downloading Multiple Shaders
Most players will have multiple shaders running at once, in order to create the best experience.
However, some mods don’t run well with others.
That’s why shader downloading should be done in steps.
Always download, install, and test each shader you choose before moving onto the next one.
This will allow you to know which shaders work and don’t work.
You’ll figure out if two mods aren’t compatible if your game becomes faulty.
Signs that your mods aren’t compatible include your game crashing before it can open a game or launch at all, no shaders being active, only one shader being active, or not being able to see or access parts of your game.
Downloading too many different shaders at once may also cause your computer to be overworked.
When pushing your computer to its limit for a long period of time, you get the risk of overheating your computer.
Shaders are a great way to level up your Minecraft experience.
The immersion that comes with shaders is the difference between night and day.
If you thought it was easy to get hooked on Minecraft before, shaders make the game even more addicting.