So a couple of days ago I bought Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I installed it, played for some time. Then I opened Skyrim and suddenly all the textures were messed up (looked detailess and white). I closed the game and checked the Data files, and boom, the texture files, the mods, everything was labeled as Morrowind Plug-ins. I went and uninstalled Morrowind, but the Data files were still labeled as Morrowind Plug-ins, and the problem persisted.

Any help guys?

EDIT: So I know that you all would think of reinstalling Skyrim, which makes sense, but here is the thing. I am on a vacation in my village. It came as a kind of surprise that I coudn't install Wi-fi, so no Steam. (Sorry for not mentioning this earlier, guess I have to return to the city.)

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    Reinstall Skyrim and make sure you aren't installing them in the same place
    – Dallium
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:38
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    I would try what @Dallium says. Reinstalling should re-write whatever associations Windows has created, as well as resetting whatever associations Skyrim made to those files. If every little rock texture was given a similar "rock01" name between Morrowind and Skyrim, then perhaps the game just used the "newest" one (that being Morrowind, as in most recently installed). Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:45
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    "the mods"... that means you're using a mod manager? Uninstall everything, clean your registry and reinstall. Or try using the manager's undo/uninstall feature.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:55
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    I'm pretty sure neither of the games themselves can do this to each other. The culprit is your mod manager, I think, having made a bad registry entry (or possibly an ini setting). Which will persist until you get the manager working right or properly un/re - installed.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 20:45
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    File associations cannot do this: they are simply hints for when you manually open/print/right-click+context menu a specific file so Windows knows which program to start first. You probably ran a poorly programmed Morrowind patcher that scanned your files and edited them (such as some sort of HD texture replacement), or you have a "morrowind fixer" DLL that hooks into DirectX calls (etc).
    – Yorik
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


Windows bases file associations on the extension, not on the file content. Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim mods have differences in internal structure, but all have the same extensions, .esm (Elder Scrolls Master), .esp (Elder Scrolls Plugin), and .bsa (Bethesda Softworks Archive). So installing the construction set for one game will overwrite any file associations set up by the other games.

This doesn't affect the games themselves. They don't care about the windows file associations and each one has its own, independent list of files to load. So you can still play Skyrim just fine even if windows thinks that all of its files belong to Morrowind.

It does affect what happens if you double-click on the files, so if you want to edit Skyrim mods, you'll need to do it by opening the Skyrim construction set and then loading the files from there, rather than just double-clicking on the plugin file.

To fix this, you'll need to either reinstall the Skyrim construction set, or manually change the file associations for each file -- but this is only a partial fix, because now all the Morrowind files will show up as belonging to Skyrim. This is an intrinsic limitation of the way windows handles file associations.

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