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How to install and customize .vpk files

A Tutorial for Counter-Strike: Source

- Handle the new file mounting system NOW! -

 

What the ... is a .vpk file?! 


The new file mounting system (brought to the Source games with the so called Steampipe update) makes use of .vpk files which is a type of packed archive comparable to .zip or .rar files minus compression meaning it's a compact add-on file for the Source engine. Instead of going through hundreds of subfolders the game loads up the package and mounts the content which significantly reduces loading times in your games. So if you're a heavy modder using a bunch of skins you'll benefit from using .vpk files, particularly if your hardware is settled on the lower end. 

Installing skins using the new folder structure 


Installing skins is easier than ever before. Download a skin and grab the folders. 

In case the creator of the skin included a .vpk file simply paste them in this folder:

"C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Source\cstrike\custom"

If the creator of your skin made use of the conventional folder structure create another subfolder (name doesn't matter) and paste the files in there:

"C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Source\cstrike\custom\yoursubfoldername"
 

Edit .vpk files


What if you like a skin, but hate the sounds? Yup, you'd simply swap them by overwriting the unwanted ones inside the sounds folder. _WAIT?!_ It's all packaged and I only have a .vpk file. Hmmmm..... Well actually, that's not a big deal. 

Download GCFScape and install it (or simply open it if you've chosen to download the archive   version). At this point I heavily recommend to double-click on any .vpk file and connect the file format to GCFScape in Windows using the "Open with..." function. 

Now, open the .vpk file and select all files. 

Right-click and hit extract files. Choose any folder you want. 

Now you've got your conventional folder structure to replace/edit any of the files of your skin.

Repack your files 


This step is optional, but I'd recommend it. Either you're happy with your conventional folders and install your edited skin as mentioned above or you repack the files into a .vpk again. If you want to create a new .vpk: 

 Create a new folder (e.g. deagle_edited) and paste your folders in there. 

Drag the folder (e.g. deagle_edited) onto the vpk.exe found in:

"C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Source\bin\"

The app will create your create .vpk file in a second and you'll find it right beside your original folder. 

Now install your skin as mentioned above.

   


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  • D-Wanderer avatar
    D-Wanderer username pic Joined 6y ago
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    Know of a more powerful packing tool than vpk.exe? It can't handle sizes bigger than 250MB and I'm trying to pack 4GBs of maps into 1 vpk.
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    Mantra
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    > **Posted by Gunzii** > 1 quick question... Isnt it that the "custom" folder should be inside the "cstrike" folder? eg.: "C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Source\cstrike\custom\" Will fix, my bad.
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    7y
    1 quick question... Isnt it that the "custom" folder should be inside the "cstrike" folder? eg.: "C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Source\cstrike\custom\"
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    > **Posted by Soldier11** > > **Posted by Devieus** > > > - The system isn't new, it's been in place well over a year now. > > True, yet I've encountered many questions and confused dudes using my .vpk files. Particularly among CS:S skins .vpks are absolutely not on common use. There are plenty of installation tutorials you can point to, there's a link to one on every download page. > > - VPK files are nothing like ZIP archives in some ways, the comparison is very screwy. > > The comparison is surely screwy, however most people know what a .zip file is. I've used it as an image to relate to a "package". Nothing technical/deeper intended here. Call it an add-on file, those are also VPK. > > - Don't call the old ways 'conventional', they're obsolete forever and it's no longer convention. > > As mentioned above, not among CS:S compiles. Especially among CS:S compiles, just not the older ones, but there's a tutorial on installing those. > > - `vpk.exe` can also unpack, no need for GCFScape at all. > > Yes, at least it is supposed to. Yet, for me the app crashes upon extracting. Also GCFScape allows you to browse the files without extracting anything. In my experience, it offers more useful features considering it can be downloaded as small archive with instant access - nothing too fancy for a serious modder. True for 8.1 somehow, but a mention would be nice. > Thanks for your feedback anyway! I'll try to include some of your thoughts. One more thing, `Steam id` is no longer the go-to place for game files, you might want to rectify that to avoid confusion.
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    Mantra
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    > **Posted by Devieus** > - The system isn't new, it's been in place well over a year now. True, yet I've encountered many questions and confused dudes using my .vpk files. Particularly among CS:S skins .vpks are absolutely not on common use. > - VPK files are nothing like ZIP archives in some ways, the comparison is very screwy. The comparison is surely screwy, however most people know what a .zip file is. I've used it as an image to relate to a "package". Nothing technical/deeper intended here. > - Don't call the old ways 'conventional', they're obsolete forever and it's no longer convention. As mentioned above, not among CS:S compiles. > - `vpk.exe` can also unpack, no need for GCFScape at all. Yes, at least it is supposed to. Yet, for me the app crashes upon extracting. Also GCFScape allows you to browse the files without extracting anything. In my experience, it offers more useful features considering it can be downloaded as small archive with instant access - nothing too fancy for a serious modder. Thanks for your feedback anyway! I'll try to include some of your thoughts.
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    Mantra
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    7y
    A few questions: So I'm assuming that mods packed into VPKs would load faster than if they were in plain folders? I've got a mods folder for TF2 that's almost 3 gigs, how much of a benefit would I see from putting them into VPKs? Is it better to create VPKs in larger or smaller chunks? I notice that the actual game VPKs for TF2 are in chunks of about 100 megabytes or so.
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    7y
    - The system isn't new, it's been in place well over a year now. - VPK files are nothing like ZIP archives in some ways, the comparison is very screwy; VPK files don't compress and cannot be read by an archive tool, when using fractured VPK files, the `_dir` file doesn't contain anything at all. - Don't call the old ways 'conventional', they're obsolete forever and it's no longer convention. - `vpk.exe` can also unpack, no need for GCFScape at all. > **Posted by Robo Typhoon** > Where would .vpk's go in terms of directory for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? CS:GO can't be modded like that, it's extremely mod-unfriendly.
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    Where would .vpk's go in terms of directory for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?
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    > **Posted by InnerConflict** > > **Posted by Soldier11** > > > > **Posted by InnerConflict** > > > > > Fuc yu Valv! > > > > Ummm.... What? > > . more work for simple things. i already hated the custom folder thing hella lot. i was so comfortable with just making a backup and overwrite everything (GUI´s) and then custom and in order to get the background working you would need to name the subfolder in a special way and... until i catched up with it i was annoyed the crap out of it already. and that .vpk thing as well. but here i at least can see why its useful. Actually, once you've understood how it works and it's waaaaaay easier to handle than the old system , especially if you're installing and removing skins often. It's easier to delete or add single .vpk files than seeking single folders in your root directory. You could even pack your entire skin collection into ONE .vpk and install it with a single hit (especially cool when you're moving systems/re-install the game). ^ I wrote the tutorial to explain this stuff to make the .vpk way more attractive and more popular for compilers/users.
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    7y
    > **Posted by Soldier11** > > **Posted by InnerConflict** > > > Fuc yu Valv! > > Ummm.... What? . more work for simple things. i already hated the custom folder thing hella lot. i was so comfortable with just making a backup and overwrite everything (GUI´s) and then custom and in order to get the background working you would need to name the subfolder in a special way and... until i catched up with it i was annoyed the crap out of it already. and that .vpk thing as well. but here i at least can see why its useful.
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    Mantra
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