Skyrim Fixes: Black Screen, Error 51, Loading Crashes, Mouse Lag, and more

By Published November 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm

It's fair to say that all of us, deep down inside, knew that TES:V would be no different from its four predecessors: buggy, crash-happy, and aggravating. While the game might make up for the crashes in its freedom factor for some, the infamous "Skyrim failed to start (error 51)" bugs, crashes when Skyrim loads or zones, black screens on alt-tab, and generally Skyrim crashing to desktop nearly stopped me from playing altogether.

I persisted, as we preach on our support forums, and found an equal number of potential fixes to the crashes and bugs (even the graphics artifacts and texture tearing). Now, since I don't have the same configuration as all of you do, the best I can do is tell you what has worked for me and others -- if none of these work for you, feel free to comment below and we'll try to figure it out together. That said, if you know of a different solution, please post it in the comments to help others who visit this page. Let's get started with our Skyrim crash fixes!


General Crash-to-Desktop and Zoning/Loading Crashes

If you saw our graphical overhaul of Skyrim, where we listed the best graphics mods for the game, you already are familiar with how important the modding community is to the series. Before anything else, you should install the Skyrim 4GB mod (assuming your system has 3GB or more memory available for Skyrim's use), which makes Skyrim launch in a 'Large Memory Address' aware mode, thus allowing it to utilize more system memory and potentially prevent crashes.

The now-defunct "Large Address Aware" mod has been replaced by 4GB Skyrim, a mod which loads Skyrim with Large Address Aware flags that set it to utilize more memory, as stated above, and it's as simple as launching the modded .exe rather than the normal version of Skyrim. Hey, maybe you'll get lucky and this will fix your problems altogether. It fixed mine before I broke it again... but I found more solutions to problems as they arose, as discussed below.

Download 4GB Skyrim here, by Monochrome Wench [link to Skyrim Nexus].


Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim failed to start (error 51)

This error code is unique to Steam's version of Skyrim, and for the most part, it's a pretty quick fix. We have two simple solutions -- assuming you haven't installed any mods that play with root files, one of the two should work for you. If they don't, it may be time to ask us below or to re-install Skyrim (just back up your save files).

1. Launch SkyrimLauncher.exe directly.

  • Navigate to the Skyrim install folder (C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim).
  • Launch SkyrimLauncher.exe from this folder.

2. "Verify the integrity of game cache."

  • Open your Steam Library tab.
  • Right-click on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and select Properties.
  • Click on the 'Local Files' tab.
  • Click 'Verify Integrity of Game Cache..."
  • Allow the verification and potential re-download to commence. You'll know it worked if it found a corrupt file and fixed it automatically.

If neither of these works, you may have a rogue .dll or strange setting that is residual from a failed mod attempt. Try deleting d3d9.dll and re-verify the game's cache.

Skyrim Doesn't Launch at all or opens and closes!

If there's no error message but you're still unable to launch (i.e., if it simply opens and then closes immediately), try options 1 & 2 of the "error 51" fix located above. One of these should help. If neither helps, it is possible that background processes are interfering with Skyrim. Try temporarily disabling anti-virus software to see if it functions any better.

My Mouse is laggy or otherwise nauseating when playing Skyrim

If you're having this issue, first of all, try checking our article we published about it here. It's most likely that you have mouse smoothing enabled, which just feels "wrong" to most gamers. If the instructions on that link don't help you, try using what helpful website commenter "James" suggested:



  • Launch the NVIDIA Control Panel (right-click your desktop).
  • Go to "Manage 3D Settings" and then the "Program Settings" tab.
  • Add Skyrim as a program (tesv.exe).
  • Locate "maximum pre-rendered frames" and change it to 0, which should help with input lag.
  • You might also consider changing Vertical Sync (at the bottom) to "Force off" just in case.


  • Install ATI Tray Tools or the ATI Catalyst.
  • Locate the 'Flip Queue' setting and adjust it similarly to the NVIDIA setting above: change it to either 3, 2, 1, or 0 (recommended).

If none of these options work, you could also try this:

  • Launch a Windows Explorer window (win key + e).
  • Navigate to \Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\Skyrim
  • Open SkyrimPrefs.ini in Notepad.
  • Locate [Controls] and then find 'bMouseAcceleration=1'
  • Change bMouseAcceleration=1 to bMouseAcceleration=0 instead; this will disable "mouse smoothing" and "mouse acceleration" in Skyrim.
  • **Set the file to "Read Only" by going to the .ini file's properties -> attributes. Skyrim might be overwriting your settings.

I'm an awesome person. How do I disable vsync?

First off: it's nice to meet you, awesome person. I, too, am particularly awesome. It is for this reason that awesome people -- such as yourself -- are in luck; we're able to work together, see, and benefit from each other. Vsync was causing issues with my 120Hz monitor, so I disabled it by doing the following:

  • Access \Users\[Username]\My Documents\My Games\Skyrim\
  • Locate Skyrim.ini.
  • Add the following line to the very bottom of the file: iPresentInterval=0
  • Save Skyrim.ini, set it to read-only just in case (properties -> attributes -> read only).

My Skyrim mods broke the game, how do I uninstall mods?

This depends on the mod. First and foremost, check the page on which you initially found the mod and check for their uninstallation or crash resolution updates. If you cannot find any, try checking the readme.txt file that came with the mod. If that fails you, you should first make backups of and then delete relevant files (i.e., d3d9.dll, injFX, or stuff of that nature) from C:\Program Files\Steam\Steamapps\Common\Skyrim\, then verify the game's cache in Steam to re-download them (Steam Library -> Properties -> Local Files -> Verify Cache).


My screen goes black when I minimize, what do I do?

Check our article that we published specifically about this issue. It's an easy work-around and shouldn't cause any further issues.


None of these seemed to work for me - what now?

Short of commenting below and asking for assistance from us, or contacting Bethesda for help on their official forums, here are some programs that might be interfering with Skyrim and thus might cause it to crash:

  • Fraps
  • NVIDIA Control Panel
  • ATI Catalyst
  • ATI Tools
  • Avast! Anti-Virus
  • Steam's Community Overlay (Steam Library -> Right-click Skyrim -> Properties -> Disable Steam Community Overlay)
  • Capture programs
  • FPS monitoring programs
  • EVGA's Precision
  • NVIDIA's 3D Vision

We'd encourage you to try playing around with your graphics settings prior to posting questions -- set them to minimum and see if it functions any better, then figure out which setting is causing it (probably FXAA or render distance).


I hope this was helpful for those of you suffering the same Skyrim bugs that I did (and still do). I'll post more of these as our team stumbles across solutions. If you find a solution or require further assistance, please comment below or post on our forums!

Last modified on November 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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