Using Shaders

Using Shaders

Make your Minecraft worlds look better than ever

Do you want to take better screenshots of your builds? Have you seen pictures of Minecraft builds with fancy lighting and shadows and wondered how they do it? It’s easier than you think! It’s possible to customize Minecraft’s graphics in incredible ways using shaders.

A shader is essentially a special set of rules for how computers draw graphics. Minecraft doesn’t support shaders by default, but we can install a modded version of Minecraft called OptiFine which does! Let’s jump in.

Before shaders…
Before shaders…
… and after!
… and after!

1. Download and install OptiFine

Head to the 🔗 OptiFine website’s downloads page, and click the blue “Download” button to get the OptiFine installer. If you want to use shaders with an older version of Minecraft, you can click on “Show All Versions” to see all the options.

When you click the “Download” button you’ll be taken to a page with an advertisement on it. Wait for the “Skip” button to appear in the top-right corner of the page, then click on it. Finally, click the “Download” button and wait for it to complete.

When your download is finished, open the file to run the installer. Click on the “Install” button, wait a few moments until the installation is done. That’s it!

2. Start up the modded OptiFine client

Open the Minecraft Launcher, and click the “Installations” button at the top of the window. Find the new OptiFine installation we just created, hover over it with your mouse and then click on the “Play” button when it appears.

Wait for the game to start, and confirm that you’re in a modded version of the game by checking for the word “Modded” at the bottom-left of the main menu.

3. Download some shaderpacks

A shaderpack is a .zip file that holds all of the shader data in it. We recommend trying out the Complementary Reimagined shaderpack, which you can download from the 🔗 Complementary website.

There are many websites with lists of available shaderpacks for download. Here are a few:

You can download and install as many shaders as you want, but only one can be enabled at a time.

4. Install and enable your shaderpacks

Open up the shaders menu by clicking “Options…” > “Video Settings…” > “Shaders…”

This menu is where you can see all the shaders you’ve installed and choose which one you want to use, but the list will be mostly empty until you move your downloaded shaderpacks into the correct location. Find the “Shaders Folder” at the bottom-left of the shaders menu and click on it.


Once the window opens, find your downloaded shader files and move them into this folder. The easiest way to do this is to drag-and-drop the files from your computer’s downloads folder.

Once all of your shaderpacks have been transferred over, return to Minecraft and you’ll see that those shaders are already showing up in the list. Click on a shader in the list to enable it. This may cause your game to reload, which is normal. Now you’re ready to check it out in-game!

5. Test your shaders and adjust settings

Hop into any Minecraft world and take a look around. How does it look? How well is it running? This is where we make decisions about what small things we need to tweak to get it running just right.

Shaders often have a set of different “Performance Profiles” which you can use to adjust the quality of their effects and in turn also affect how laggy the game is. From the Shaders menu, click the “Shader Options…” button at the bottom-right corner and you’ll be able to see this specific shader’s settings and adjust them freely.


As a general rule, reflections and shadows tend to be the most impactful settings from a performance perspective, because they require a lot of calculations by your computer to display correctly. Turning down those specific settings can improve the experience a lot if the game is a little too choppy for your tastes.

Worst-case, if you’re still not getting the results you want, you can disable that shader and go download and try a different one! There’s a huge variety of different shaders available online, so no matter what your goal is there’s one that will work for you!

6. Additional tips

Use shader switching to your advantage!

If your computer has a hard time with fancy shaders, you can still use them to take screenshots! Just disable the shader when you are working on your build, and when it’s time to take pictures you can position yourself in the angle you want, swap the shader on, take your screenshot, and then swap it back off.

This can be a tedious process, but it ensures that pretty much anyone can take high-quality screenshots of their creations!

Experiment with different FOV settings!

If you play on competitive PvP servers, you may have cranked your field of view (FOV) settings up to make it easier to see more of your surroundings. Turning down your FOV can make it easier to see the fine details of your builds. You can find this setting at the top-left of the “Options…” menu.

Check out this example of how different FOV settings affect screenshots of a building: