Minecraft is known for having "programmer graphics", this isn't something bad, its simple textures and look gained the heart of millions, but sometimes you can make it feel more alive if it's something that you enjoy.
Shaders are a way to enhance Minecraft graphics, they do not change how the gameplay works, rather just the visuals, and you're able to use them even if playing on an online server. Due to how they improve the game graphics, you need a computer that can handle shaders, but they are distributed with different configurations, make it easy to run a lower settings version of a shader if you want to.
Installing OptiFine to use shaders
OptiFine is a Minecraft modification that will optimize the game, not only allowing you to use shaders but also HD textures, performance optimization, better lighting, fog control, and more, there is no reason to not use it, as it will just make the game better and not change anything gameplay-wise.
The catch thing about installing OptiFine is that you need to install the correct version related to the Minecraft version you pretend to play, not everyone plays on the latest version always, so you need to download OptiFine for each version you pretend to play.
To download OptiFine you can go to their download webpage available at https://optifine.net/downloads
By default, three versions will be listed, but you can show more by clicking "Show all versions" on the bottom of the screen. To download an OptiFine version just click on download to the right of the version you want.
For the latest Minecraft versions, there may not be a stable version available to download, for this, you can click on "Preview versions" and download the most recent one, which should work, but be sure to update when possible.
What Minecraft shader to install?
There is a lot of different shaders that you're able to install, the problem is that some only work on certain systems due to strict requirements, we will show shaders that should work on most computers.
Sildur's Vibrant Shaders is a widely used shader that also supports Minecraft's latest versions, this shader is also performance-friendly and gives you options for different kinds of computers.
To download Sildur's Vibrant Shaders take a look at https://sildurs-shaders.github.io/downloads/
At the top of the page, you can always see the version range that the shaders support, and you can opt for Vibrant, Enhanced, and Fabulous shaders.
If you don't know about each one of these options, take a look at the screenshots page, as you can see, Vibrant has these god rays and a lot of changes from Vanilla Minecraft, but still with its look we all know and love.
Vibrant has different versions on the download page, for example, Lite, Medium, High, and so on, with the latest one having volumetric lighting, take one that should fit your computer the best and see how well it performs. If you don't know which one to download, try Sildur's Vibrant shaders Medium in-game and change the shader depending on the performance of this one.
Installing the shader
After downloading the shader, you will notice that it is a .zip file extension, but you don't have to unpack it, open your Minecraft Launcher, change the version to the Optifine one you download, and start the game.
- Wait for Minecraft to launch using the OptiFine version
- Click on "Options..."
- Click on "Video settings"
- Click on "Shaders...", this option appears because you're using OptiFine
- The Shaders page will list all shaders you're using, and this is where you can select a shader, click on "Shaders Folder" to open the folder to put your shaders
- You have to copy the downloaded shader to the folder that will open, which usually ends with ".minecraft\shaderpacks", so just drag and drop the .zip file there
- You should automatically see the shader in-game, it will be listed on the menu but not active, click on its name, in this case, "Sildurs Vibrant Shaders"
- Click Done and try your shaders in the game
Usually, a restart isn't needed for the shaders to apply.
To install any other shader you want, just follow the same process making sure it's the right version.
Best Minecraft shaders to install
Now that you know the process, it may be good to know what other shaders are there.
Sildur's Vibrant Shaders
This shader is the one we just installed, it is one of the most popular shaders because of how good it looks in-game while keeping the Minecraft feeling alive, and for being good for all kinds of computers.
SEUS (Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders)
SEUS is a very popular shader that makes people impressed by how realistic it can make the game become, although SEUS is known for working only with high-end NVIDIA cards, the new SEUS PTGI that is in the Alpha version may help mid-tier cards, and as stated in SEUS website: "AMD compatibility is still being worked on".
You can download it at https://www.sonicether.com/seus/
A great shader that aims to be also good at performance, Complementary has a realistic look while breathing more life into the game with beautiful effects. It is based on the BSL shader.
You can get it at https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/customization/complementary-shaders.
BSL is a beautiful shader that doesn't require a lot from your system, some shaders are based on BSL and it is worth taking a look at.
You can get the BSL Shader at https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/customization/bsl-shaders.
All of these shaders can be downloaded the same way as explained above and it doesn't require any complex configuration, there are more shaders that you're able to download and you can find almost all of them at CurseForge.