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This question already has an answer here:

Steam is saying I have to download the game all over again, but I have already done so. It is on my external hard drive instead of my SSD in my laptop, to save space. I haven't really had this problem before, any ideas what may have happened?

marked as duplicate by Wrigglenite, MrLemon, Rapitor, Y U NO WORK, João Cunha Jun 9 '16 at 13:15

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  • Did your external hard drive's drive letter change? – IllusiveBrian Apr 1 '16 at 15:14
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    Is this the first time you've installed a game to this external drive? Did Steam install it there, or did you move it there manually? Has the drive been unplugged since installing the game to it? – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '16 at 16:35
  • Have you set that specific HD+directory as a Steam Library inside Steam? – vianna77 Apr 1 '16 at 16:50
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The game needs to be in the correct folder.

It has to be in your <Steam Directory>\Steam\SteamApps\common folder. If it is in one, make sure Steam recognizes it.

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    @AshCat If this answer solved your problem, you should accept it. Both of you will get rep for that. – DCShannon Apr 2 '16 at 1:04
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I would try clearing some space and installing Skyrim on your SSD.

Steam tends to be picky about which folders it'll pick from.

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