How to download and import plugins?[Mac]

hi I’m a newbie. I’m having issues importing the plugins I installed from the vcv library on, and I don’t know how to import them into the app

You don’t need to import plugins from the library. When VCV Rack starts it checks the library, then puts a red dot on the Library menu. You then select the Update All menu option and the plugins are downloaded. Then when you restart Rack the plugins will be available.

it doesn’t make me do it. I don’t really know how to basic here. I downloaded the plugins from the GitHub page the site redirects you to, and then downloaded and opened the .zip from GitHub. what did I miss?

The usual way to get plugins is to go the plugins page and select the ones you want.

For these ones, where you clicked the button on the right, you don’t download anything yourself. VCV Rack then does the rest as described above.

If you want to get plugins outside of the library, that is when you do it manually. Download the zip, put it in the plugin folder, then when Rack starts it unzips and the plugins are available.

Have you read this?

The steps are:

  • Download and install VCV Rack.
  • Register for a VCV account and log in using Rack’s “Library” menu.
  • Subscribe to a plugin, relaunch Rack, and click “Library > Update all” in the menu bar.
    • Adding individual modules will be allowed when Rack v2 is released, since this relies on its module whitelist feature. Until then, you must subscribe to the entire plugin.
  • Restart Rack and add the new module(s) to your patch.

The non-intuitive part is obfuscated by “Subscribe to a plugin”. As near as I can make out, you don’t, (yet - I guess we’ll have to wait for Rack v2 for that feature).

What you have to do is subscribe to the designer or publisher of the module, so that you end up with all of their modules.

Yes, you do. It’s just that many/most developers put all their modules into a single plugin. It’s mainly paid modules that divide into multiple pluins. So Vult, for example, has (at least) three plugins. Each of those plugins has severl/many modules inside of it.

Please link, don’t copy-paste. Information goes out of date. Links are kept up to date.

That is very confusing. It’s not at all obvious from the main “VCV Rack Manual”.

When you browse the Library, it lists separate modules, but (so far) to get any single module I’ve had to subscribe to the author.

What is a “plugin”, exactly, as distinct from a “module”? What does the difference look like in the Library?

@Vortico is correct here - there are more accurate places to get this information. Search here for “terminology plugin” or something like that.

That said, I can’t help but answer a simple question. A module (to me) is something that looks like a physical synth module. It has a rectangular panel, and it is the smallest “atom” that you can insert into a patch.

A plugin is a piece of software (in a zip file, as it happens) that may implement one OR MORE modules. I make a single plugin. It has about 20 modules in it. Some people have plugins that only have one module in them.

You care about modules any time you make a patch. A patch is a collection of modules, typically patched together with virtual cables.

You rarely care about “plugins” - you don’t run into them that much. Except when you subscribe to one in the library. You have been thinking “I am subscribing to an author”, and while many times that’s true it’s not always true.

If you want to see a case where subscribing to a plugin does not subscribe you that author, go and buy any of the commercial plugins from VCV. You will find that you do not have all the VCV modules, just the one in the plugin that you bought.

The other time you “see” plugins is when they are updated. You will be given an opportunity to update the entire plugin. Not an individual module, and not all from a certain author, but a plugin.

You have been thinking “I am subscribing to an author”, and while many times that’s true it’s not always true.

What I was mainly getting at is that to a person who has just walked in through the VCVRack door, it is looking, walking, and quacking like a duck, so to speak.

maybe you just dont agree with the terminology but to call it “very confusing” i dont think is accurate.

as far as plugin/module terminology. think of them as plugin packs consisting of a group of modules.

I’m not the only one, it seems.

Words have their own jobs, and they do them very well. Better to make up a word than to use one that is ill-fitting to the task.

Not ill-fitted, but it might be useful to know what the roots of those words are.

It’s called “a module” because that is what it’s called in Eurorack, and VCV Rack is a virtual Eurorack modular synthesizer. A module in VCV Rack works exactly the same way it does in Eurorack.

A specific, named “collection” of modules is called “a plugin”, because VCV Rack implements a plugin architecture. Plugins for all manner of software is a very old and well known concept. It’s a way of making a piece of software that is not closed and final in its functionality, but can be extended by third-party authors, and that’s exactly how VCV Rack works.

So, to sum up: VCV Rack is a piece of software, that emulates a Eurorack modular synthesizer, that can be freely extended via plugins, containing modules, which is the unit of functionality in VCV Rack.

Clearer now?


Yes and no.

You may design something with a “plugin architecture”, but it’s the modules that get “plugged in”. Plugins traditionally did one task, or a small range of tasks. Toasters, coffeemakers, lightbulbs, and televisions are plugins to a house’s electrical system. You would not expect to have a collection of, say, kitchen appliances be called the “Kitchen Plugin”.

I don’t really care at this point. All I wanted to do was to point out to new users who found this thread that you may experience some confusion when first attempting to figure out how to get a module installed, as I did. A single sentence in the Manual would sort it out, whatever terminology is used.

Merely saying that something is not confusing does not make it so.

Nope, it is quite literally the plugin that gets “plugged in” in a plugin architecture, and the world is full of software that works like that.

It’s fair enough to be confused, we all are at some point, about something or the other. The guidance in the VCV Rack manual takes the practical “just do this approach”. From

See the VCV Library Instructions section at the bottom of the VCV Library

And at the bottom of the library page it says:

  • Subscribe to a plugin, relaunch Rack, and click “Library > Update all” in the menu bar.
  • Restart Rack and add the new module(s) to your patch.

Whis is literally true, that’s exactly what you do.

True. The manual just briefly tells you what to do, and that works. I wouldn’t disagree with you, that it would be nice to also have a descriptive text, that explains the meaning and background for the terminology, and puts things in a context, but that is what I have done above.

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Thanks, @LarsBjerregaard. Well, put.

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I did this, and the folders unzip, but they don’t show up in the “brand” list.

I had this issue once on linux and realized afterwards that I accidently logged out my account. While all the folders patiently waited in unzipped state to be used I could access them fully after I logged back in.

Thanks for your comment. The filed unzipped, but just don’t appear in the Library.