Have you been playing vanilla Minecraft and wished for more life in your world? It’s totally fine to want more from your gameplay visuals, especially when blocks surround you for as far as the eye can see. So to liven up Minecraft gameplay, independent developers have created a whole ton of Minecraft Shaders. These will add lighting effects, environmental movement, textures, and lots more contrast and realistic shadow visuals into your world. Some shaders are even ray-traced, which is great for beefy rigs.
However, there’s a whole lot of Minecraft Shaders to choose from if you’re searching the internet or any Minecraft site. So we’ve put together the ten best Minecraft Shaders that we love using to show off the beauty of Minecraft.
How to install Minecraft Shaders
Before we dive into our favorites, we’ll first guide you through installing Minecraft Shaders. It can be a confusing process, so be sure to follow step by step.
The first thing you need is Optifine. Visit their website at optifine.net and click on their “Downloads” page. On this page are the different versions of Optifine that correspond to the version of Minecraft you are playing. For example, if you’re playing Minecraft version 1.17.1, then download the latest Optifine version 1.17.1.
After you’ve downloaded Optifine, all you need to do is open the file. It will open an installation window, for which you have to click “install.” It may ask you first to install Java, which you can quickly do by downloading the latest version from their website. It only takes a moment to install successfully.
Before you proceed, try running Optifine in Minecraft. In your Minecraft Launcher, the Installations tab will have a new version. Click “New Installation.” Among the version dropdown menu, select the one that has “Optifine” in the name. Back on the main menu, select that installation for playing, and click “Play.” You might get an alert that it’s a 3rd-party plugin, but don’t worry; Optifine has been a trusted Minecraft add-on for years.
Now that your Optifine is running successfully, you can install mods very easily.
Open your windows explorer. In the folder location bar, type in “%appdata%,” press enter, and it will automatically bring you to some game folders. Open the “.minecraft” folder, and there will be a folder inside called “mods.” Transfer your Optifine file there.
Once you have downloaded your desired shaders, go back to the “.minecraft” folder. There is a new folder called “shaderpacks.” Now drag in your shader .zip files there, and you will be able to open it through the Minecraft game. You’ll find it in-game when you open the menu and click “Video Settings.”
Now that we’ve covered how to install Optifine, input Shaders, and access them, let’s check our top picks for Minecraft Shaders.
10 Best Minecraft Shaders of 2022
Chocapic’s look is deceptively simple, but it’s so well done. The shading and contrast aren’t over-the-top. The colors aren’t overly vibrant to the point of caricature. The tones are warm enough to look summery but look very clean when it comes to snowy biomes. Your Minecraft world will look picturesque and any angle and biome with Chocapic13. Its look will endure through the years.
However, one key factor to Chocapic being a top-tier shader is the different tweaks and versions available. There are lighter versions that can be run without needing a beefy rig. And then there are more extreme versions that deliver high quality if you have the equipment to run it. And even the lightest version has plenty of options to play with. You can adjust the amount of fog you are running, the amount of blue and red tones, the detail and light, and, you can even use Depth of Field on some versions.
Those who prefer very customizable shaders will have lots of fun with Chocapic13 and everything they have to offer.
BSL Minecraft Shaders will produce a more hazy, dreamy look to your world. The contrast and vibrance are a bit more washed out in comparison to Chocapic’s. But there are lots of ambiences to go around. You get the feeling of looking off into the horizon with a bit of life-like solar glare. The extra light and glow coming off light-emitting blocks have a soft charm about them.
We appreciate BSL for being one of the lighter shaders. You don’t need a heavy setup to be able to run these on decent quality. It’s a gorgeous shader with a good amount of adjustments to match up to your preferences. If you’re streaming your Minecraft world or just taking photos, BSL will introduce a great atmosphere.
SEUS (Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders)
SEUS looks is a bit similar to BSL but with a bit more contrast and room for the shadow. The water with SEUS Minecraft Shaders is stylish without looking over the top. You also get a real-life sun that looms over your Minecraft world instead of the usual square or diamond sun Minecraft comes with.
The atmosphere that SEUS introduces into Minecraft is subtle, but it brings a lot to the table. SEUS recently introduced a hot new update to their array of Shaders as well. One of their newest introduces a pseudo-ray tracing mechanic that works with wet surfaces. So if you want some high levels of detail with a moody environment, turn on the rain and your SEUS shaders. It may surprise you.
Kappa is one of those shaders that wins when it comes to sunsets and water effects. The sunset tones look clean and gentle, without sharp contrasts or overly washed-out colors. The shimmers and reflections from the water produce a tropical effect that is great for showing off your ocean biomes and seaside Minecraft builds. Imagine boating around with this shader on? It’s a whole new experience.
Aside from the water effects, Kappa is one of the best Minecraft shaders out there for adjusting clouds and fog. You can turn up or turn down the volumetric clouds and volumetric fog to alter how mysterious or fantasy-like your world will look. You can also get a dense atmosphere if you bring these shaders into the Nether.
After going through some foggy shaders, ProjectLUMA offers some refreshing vibrance and saturation. Its water effects will offer one of the most satisfying, deepest blues out there. We love how ProjectLUMA takes advantage of the whole color spectrum here, delivering blues, oranges, and hints of purple given different lighting conditions.
Showing off your Minecraft world with ProjectLUMA will introduce some next-level realism, especially if showing off an aqua-heavy biome. Whether it’s a swamp, turtle bay, or deep ocean, you’ll have deep immersive lighting and tones for your gaming experience. Just be warned that it’s not a shader friendly to light computers. It needs a heavier rig to capture everything in good quality.
Nostalgia Minecraft Shaders lives up to its name of being nostalgic. These shaders bring you back to the time of early Minecraft, but with lighting, shadows, and water textures added into the mix. There’s a good amount of Ambience and fog that can appear to be washed out but, in most biomes and light settings, look realistic and familiar.
Despite the nostalgic look, these shaders bring something new to the brand-new Nether biomes of the recent Minecraft update, and will surely surprise us come the Cliffs and Caves update. It’s one of the better shaders for older computers or gaming laptops. It’s light enough when tweaked accordingly, but brings what nostalgic players want from a good Minecraft Shader pack.
Ymir is one of those Minecraft Shaders that makes wide shots and high render distances look stunning. Although it doesn’t offer a crisp look for smaller closeups and detail shots, the ambience and atmosphere it provides make for a whole new world. Whether over a forest or a mountain biome, Ymir’s blues and greens can charm your Minecraft world into looking like a movie.
Another great thing to try with Ymir would be how the shaders look in different weather. It gives storms and snowstorms a realistic look with how it affects the atmosphere. Ymir’s clouds are nice and fluffy too, which is a nice change from the usual wispy clouds that most Minecraft Shaders offer. Ymir’s skies always make for good landscape shots. If you want to show off a vast Minecraft world in the best way possible, Ymir’s a great pick.
Voyager is an interesting shader that looks more vibrant than Ymir. Although it has blue and gray tones that make wide shots look cinematic and foggy, we think Voyager also makes warm torch-lit caves look really neat. It brings in the orange glows without having too much contrast or being over-the-top. We love the deep blue it brings to water without being as vibrant as ProjectLUMA.
Voyager pretty much has it all. There is a nice variety of clouds and adjustable volumetric fog, beautiful water effects, good adjustments to light, and a subtle overall tone that brings more life to your Minecraft world. In our opinion, these shaders really stand out for wide mountainous shots and lots of fog. It may tax your render distance, but the product is so worth it.
Continuum requires a high-performance setup, but if you have it, it’s worth it. The way Continuum Minecraft Shaders turns your world into something out of a movie is truly spectacular. These shaders give some subtlety to the lighting effects, making it look realistic without being overly gloomy.
One particular application of Continuum Shaders we enjoy is with those shafts of light. You can adjust the amount of light shafts by playing with the volumetric fog that comes with the shader. It really lets you feel the thickness and opacity of the atmosphere with the way everything reacts to the light and sky of the Shaders. The clouds switch up the environment a lot. Similar to Ymir, Continuum is great for wide shots with huge render distances. The atmosphere it delivers is superb.
Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders
Last on our list is a low-performance Minecraft Shader that’s still a favorite of Minecraft players to this day. Sildur’s really lives up the “Vibrant” part in its name. With the right sky, you can almost capture the whole rainbow of colors with light flares and reflective surfaces in one shot. The shaders are simple but offer a very refreshing view to worlds that can often get dull after long hours of gameplay. Playing with lighting in Sildur’s is lots of fun.
However, one drawback we find with Sildur’s is its low customizability. Unlike our top shaders with adjustable fog, clouds, and even color tones, Sildur’s offers only a few options for change. Still, players that only have light gaming setups will be able to take advantage of the light Sildur’s packs, even if the settings get maxed. For some vibrant and playful tones to show off your Minecraft world, Sildur’s is always a safe option, especially in terms of performance.
One amazing thing about Minecraft Shaders is that you won’t find any limits if you look far enough. With Minecraft having a sandbox, almost open-source aspect to it, many independent developers put hard work into producing shaders for different cinematic or photographic looks.
Most of our recommendations offer a realistic, movie-like atmosphere that contrasts well with the overall blocky nature of Vanilla Minecraft. But if you want a quirky, cartoonish shader, there is one out there for you. Ray-traced shaders have been the hype for a while now as well, so if your rig can handle that, why wait? We highly recommend you try out any shader that strikes your attention.