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When you’ve been playing for a decade, Minecraft shaders are probably the second quickest way to fall back in love with its voxel worlds—right behind picking a new Minecraft texture pack. Whenever my latest build is starting to feel a little dull, or I’m plagued by a lack of inspiration, turning on a great set of shaders and staring directly into the god rays is a surefire cure. With that in mind, I’m going to help you get set up with some of the best Minecraft shaders out there. As with everything else in Minecraft modding, installing them is easier than ever.

Best of Minecraft

Minecraf 1.18 key art

(Image credit: Mojang)

Minecraft update: What’s new?
Minecraft skins: New looks
Minecraft mods:  Beyond vanilla
Minecraft shaders: Spotlight
Minecraft seeds: Fresh new worlds
Minecraft texture packs: Pixelated
Minecraft servers: Online worlds
Minecraft commands: All cheats

Before you keep scrolling though, here are the general prerequisites for installing Minecraft shaders that you’ll need to know: First off, these currently only work with the Java Edition of Minecraft. Now that all players own both versions of the game through the launcher, that shouldn’t be an issue though. If you’re attached to Bedrock Edition, you’ll want to look into Minecraft RTX to get similar lovely lighting effects.

All of these shader packs also require that you first install a graphics mod called Optifine (or, in a couple cases, one called Iris). If this is all old news to you, carry on. If you need a quick explainer on installing Optifine and individual shader packs, head down to the bottom of the page. 

As another quick aside, most of these shader packs offer tons of customization options (the speed that water animates, the amount of ambient fog, or the exact RGB values of lighting for each time of day). If you know what you’re about, you can do a lot with any of these shaders, so I’ll be focusing on how they look and feel to those who just want to install and play right away.

The best Minecraft Shaders

What are the best Minecraft shaders in 2022?

Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders, SEUS Renewed, and BSL Shaders are the best Minecraft shaders right now.

You can read more about our top Minecraft shader picks down below along with several other really great options. 

Sildur’s Shaders 

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by SildurFX)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

If you want your Minecraft world to look gorgeous right this second, don’t even keep scrolling. Sildur’s shaders look amazing right out of the box with bright colors, soft shadows, god rays, and everything else you’d want, whether it’s your first time installing shaders for Minecraft or you’re coming back to see what’s hot.

Sildur does recommend using Iris (explained below), but as of 2022 the Vibrant shaders also look great through Optifine with no immediate settings changes needed. For those without quite as much a powerhouse PC, the Sildur’s Enhanced Default shaders will soup up your game with shadows and god rays without straining your machine.

BSL Shaders 

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by BitsLabLab)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: BSL’s website

BSL is my personal favorite shader pack. I prefer its softer look to Sildur’s super powerful colors. It’s great for build screenshots and easy on the eyes while playing. BSL is still getting regular fixes and updates as of 2022, so you can be sure this one will stay relevant for a while to come. BSL works well for me with a fresh install, but you can find solutions to common questions and issues in BSL’s FAQ section.

SEUS Renewed 

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by Sonic Ether)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Sonic Ether’s website

SEUS shaders are a long time favorite for Minecraft players and for good reason. Sonic Ether’s shader pack is bright and clear by default, and not quite as color saturated as Sildur’s. SEUS has a great realistic feel with crisp days and dark nights.

Tip: If everything on the ground looks weirdly shadowy, open your Options > Video Settings > Shaders and make sure Normal Map is toggled on.

Complementary Shaders 

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

Complementary is based on BSL shaders, and its creator says it aims to “provide you with the most issueless experience possible.” True enough, I didn’t feel the need to tweak any of Complementary settings. You can spot that it has a realistic vibe, maybe even more so than SEUS.

Chocapic’s Shaders 

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by Chocapic13)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

Chocapic’s shaders attempt to maintain high quality even at low settings and comes with different files for Low, Medium, High, Extreme, and Ultra. I’m using the Medium pack in my screenshots, and you can spot that it does still look great but doesn’t have as intense lighting effects on torches as some of the above options, for instance.

Tip: If you’re seeing a wild amount of bright white light in the sky, go to Options > Video Settings > Details and toggle clouds off.

Project LUMA 

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by dedelner)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

Project LUMA is the successor to formerly popular shader pack KUDA, which says its aim is “playing Minecraft without the effects distracting you from the gameplay.” I felt this most in how clear LUMA plays while underwater or in the rain. Other shader packs heap on a lot of atmosphere and fog effects for a moodier underwater experience but LUMA maintains a lot of clarity. If you enjoy playing underwater, this may be the way to go. LUMA hasn’t been updated since 2019 but still players well in 2022.

Sora Shaders 

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

The Sora shader pack bills itself as another gameplay focused pack that isn’t super high contrast. You can definitely get that feel in this screenshot, which has brighter shadows than other popular packs. Sora also advertises its many color profile settings, which you can toggle between really easily in its settings to get a different look. 

Vanilla Plus 

Minecraft shaders - vanilla plus, a forested mountain at sunset casting shadows

(Image credit: Mojang, modded by RRe36)

(Image credit: Mojang)

Download from: Curseforge

Vanilla Plus is a pack that really pares the shader experience down to shadows and god rays. No realistic clouds or water here. This is vanilla Minecraft but just slightly prettier. The bonus is that the fewer effects are much easier on your machine than some of these shader packs. PC gamers without fancy rigs deserve a beautiful mining experience too. If you’re up to it, Vanilla Plus does have a “Fancy” profile in its settings that includes pretty, reflective water.

How to install Minecraft shaders

How to install Minecraft shaders 

Fortunately, installing shaders is pretty easy these days. Almost all of these packs require the graphics mod Optifine, which you can download from its website. Some recommend a recent mod called Iris instead, but right now most of these packs don’t support Iris.  

  • In your Minecraft launcher, run the version of Minecraft you’re planning to play at least once.
  • Download the corresponding version from Optifine’s site.
  • Double-click the .jar file, which will automatically install Optifine.
  • Back in your launcher, select “Optifine” as the installation you’d like to play.
  • In  your Minecraft menu, select Options > Video Settings > Shaders > Shaders Folder
  • Alternatively, you can find this folder manually at C:Users[Yourname]AppDataRoaming.minecraftshaderpacks
  • Put the .zip file shader pack you’ve downloaded into this “shaderpacks” folder
  • Select any of your added shader packs from the Shaders menu

You don’t often need to worry about version compatibility for the shaderpacks you’re using. Although new game versions may sometimes introduce issues, you’re more bound by the version of Optifine you’re using, which fortunately usually updates quite quickly after major Minecraft version changes.

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