Ableton Not Showing Plug-ins? (9 Solutions)

The power of instrument and effects plug-ins cannot be understated. From vintage microphone and guitar amplifier modeling to vocal Autotune and powerful synthesizers, there is a plug-in for every musical need.

What can be frustrating are issues that arise when trying to integrate, scan and use third-party plug-ins in Ableton Live.

This article will provide 9 solutions to the problem of plug-ins not showing up in Ableton.

1. Make Sure the Plug-ins are Installed in the Correct Location

Each plug-in functions like an application that is installed onto a laptop or PC, and it’s vital that version of the plug-in you are wanting to use is installed in the correct location.

Ableton Live supports VST2 and VST3 on Windows and VST2, VST3, and AU on Mac. Each VST version must be installed in its specific folder.

To check this:

  1. Open Live’s Preferences, then click the ‘Plug-ins’ menu tab.
  2. Enable the corresponding folder depending on which VST version your plug-in is (VST2 or VST3).
  3. When enabling a folder (either system or custom), Ableton will begin scanning your VST plug-in folders for any compatible plug-ins you have installed.
  4. You can set Ableton to use a custom folder if your plug-ins are not installed in the default system location.
  5. For Mac users who are using Audio Units (AU), simply enable the system folder.

RELATED: Please check out our article about Ableton VST Scanner issues.

2. You Need to Toggle the Plug-in Folder Off and On Again

Once establishing that the plug-ins are installed in the correct location, a quick disabling and re-enabling of the plug-in folder could fix the issue of plug-ins not showing in Ableton Live.

Performing a full rescan of all installed plug-ins is also a possible solution.

Tis is done by simultaneously holding down the ‘ALT/option’ button and pressing ‘Rescan Plug-ins.’

3. The Plug-in Must Support your Operating System

Depending on the release date of certain plug-ins and how regular their subsequent updates are, you may find that as new laptop and PC operating systems update and progress, your plug-ins become incompatible with your current operating system.

It is advisable to check the compatibility of the plug-in in question with your current operating system.

The manufacturers of plug-ins usually provide compatibility information on their official websites.

4. Ableton Live Must support the Plug-in

Although Ableton Live supports a vast array of plug-ins, there is always a possibility that a plug-in may not appear in Ableton Live.

This is because it is not compatible with this Ableton’s DAW. Check the compatibility information provided by the plug-in manufacturer.

5. You Need to Update the Plug-in to the Latest Version

Most manufacturers provide frequent updates to their plug-ins.

These updates often contain bug fixes, and running the latest iteration of your plug-in could solve the issue of the plug-in not being listed in Ableton Live.

Updating plug-ins can be done through the official website of the plug-in or through the plug-in manager application (if applicable).

6. Make sure Ableton Live is Updated to the Latest Version

Every update that Ableton releases of Live contains important bug fixes and performance improvements.

You need to make sure that you regularly check for and install updates when they are released.

If you want to install and use VST3 plug-ins, it must be noted that VST3 is only supported from version 10.1 of Ableton Live or later.

7. The Correct Bit-Depth Plug-in must be Installed for Live Version

This is a crucial detail that is often overlooked.

Ableton Live 10 and 11 versions are strictly 64-bit only. Therefore 32-but plug-ins will not appear as usable when looking through your plug-ins folder in Ableton.

This also means that those still running the 32-bit version of Ableton Live 9 and earlier versions won’t be able to use any 64-bit plug-ins.

8. Check for Missing Waves Plug-ins

If your issue with finding your plug-ins in Ableton is related strictly to Waves plug-ins, then it may be that a specific file called a “Waveshell” may be missing in your custom VST folder.

  • This file is installed in the default plug-in folder, and it is essential for Waves plug-ins to work in Ableton.
  • Simply drag the Waveshell file to your custom VST folder and rescan for plug-ins.

9. Uninstall Plug-ins, Rescan, Re-Install, Rescan

This option is best undertaken as a last resort. If your desired plug-ins are still not appearing, then follow these steps:

  • Uninstall all plug-ins (either by trashing them or using the plug-ins’ provided uninstaller)
  • Open Ableton and rescan for plug-ins.
  • Close Ableton.
  • Install desired plug-ins and then reboot the laptop or PC.
  • Open Ableton and rescan for plug-ins.

Final Thoughts

It can often be difficult to establish why plug-ins give issues. It can be an issue with the DAW settings as well as an issue with the plug-in itself.

We trust this article has shed light on some methods for problem-solving. Good luck!


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