Transitioning From Boxed FSX To FSX:SE Part 1 – FSX Stripback

Flight simulation is an experience unique in the vast expanse of simulation experiences. It attracts a variety of people for a variety of reasons. For many, it has been a long journey to get their sim to run at its best. It also represents an investment of passion, time and finance. Flight Simulator X set a new benchmark upon its release in 2006, however no one at the time believed that a decade later, it would still be living, breathing and providing a fantastic virtual aviation experience to not only those who have been here for a while, but to new simmers as well.

It is with this in mind that I am presenting a two-part series on how to make the transition from the Boxed (or Classic) version of FSX to the reinvigorated Steam Edition with minimum hassle. There will be things that I will talk about that may seem obvious to many or conversely, completely new and perhaps even intimidating. So all I ask is to please remember that this is a guide for all simmers, from the arm chair aviators to the top guns to the aerospace engineers!

Before we start, there is a question I ask you to consider. Before you begin, open your hangar and take stock of the range of aircraft you find there. From here, go to your scenery library and open it, scroll through the list of active (and maybe even deactivated) scenery that lies within. Now ask yourself “How often do I fly the aircraft in my hangar to the places I have in my scenery library?”

I never said it would be an easy question. The journey we are about to undertake can be daunting to some. FSX: Steam Edition gives you a chance to start fresh. A clean beginning to install what drives your passion for virtual aviation without the things that tie you to the bonds of the virtual earth. If this is the path
you choose, this guide will still help you greatly.

And now ladies and gentlemen, I present Act 1 – The FSX Stripback.

The Scene: Your simulation desktop. There you have your FSX Classic Icon. Looking at it brings forth memories of all the hours soaring to new heights, exploring far off lands and making the runways of the world your own. Running your hands over your flight controls, you smile knowing the take offs and landings those controls have enabled, and the highways of the sky you have explored as one. Now it’s time for the Classic to retire to her boneyard in the virtual desert, and the new generation Steam Edition to shine bright.

As we shake off the nostalgia there is some housekeeping to get done first. I will be assuming throughout these articles that you are an Administrator for your PC. Many of the steps that we will be going through require it. 

Firstly, we need to ensure that we can see all of the files and folders that we are going to be referring to. For this, open File Explorer and along the top go to the View tab. Ensure that the File Name Extensions and Hidden Items checkboxes are checked.
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This allows us to go into specific folders that we need to access and either modify or backup files.

Next, go to somewhere on your PC and create a folder for you to save the files you are going to keep. Personally, I placed mine into My Documents and called it FSX Files Back Up (not very original but easy to locate).

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Create 4 new folders: Documents, Pictures, FSX and AppData.

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With our housekeeping complete, go to your My DocumentsFlight Simulator X Files folder. Inside here will be a variety of flight plans and files that you have gathered over your simulation time. Copy the folder and place it into your Back UpDocuments folder. Next, go to your Pictures folder – inside there is a folder Flight Simulator X Files. Copy and paste it into your Back UpPictures Folder.

Next up (remember the checkboxes you marked earlier?) go to C:Users<your username>AppDataRoamingMicrosoftFSX

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Copy that folder, then go back to the Back UpAppData folder.

So why did we just do this? Two reasons: One – Your long hard earned logbook files, save flights, and all those beautiful screenshots you have collected over all those flights are now safe and sound. Two – Microsoft’s uninstaller is utterly ruthless. When it uninstalls FSX it also removes all of these precious files, so backing them up will allow you to save them to transfer over to FSX: Steam Edition

Ok now here is a decision point… to keep all of those downloaded aircraft and sceneries or begin clean? We shall proceed with keeping them all. Head over into your FSX Classic folder (Default path C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft GamesMicrosoft Flight Simulator X). Here you want to grab the following folders: Addon Scenery, Effects, Gauges and SimObjects. Copy these and paste them inside your BackupFSX folder.

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These four folders are essentially every aircraft you have, all of the manually installed scenery (Automated / Payware scenery we will cover next), along with all the gauges and effects that make them what they are.

Now for a note on the majority of payware scenery (read Orbx, MegaScenery Earth and the like): These sceneries use files that are spread across and merged throughout your sim and sadly cannot be easily copied. These sceneries are best reinstalled once you have moved over on to Steam Edition.

So now we have safely backed up our documentation, our memories, our aircraft and what scenery we can. Now comes the easy  part. Go to your Control Panel and uninstall programs and start uninstalling. Everything to do with your FSX Classic installation (Rex Texture Direct if you use it excluded). Aircraft, Scenery the whole nine yards. If you have FSX:Steam Edition installed, you need to remove that as well. Remember we are converting to a single install of FSX:Steam Edition only at the end of this process.

Ok so we are in the home stretch. Go to your FSX Classic installation folder. Some folders may have been left behind, they need to go.  Same may also apply to the folder where you had FSX: Steam Edition installed. Additionally, you need to remove your backed up AppData folders before you run the registry cleaner.

We have backed up its contents for our reference, but have to remove it so that when we install FSX:SE it doesn’t confuse the poor installer. So head to C:Users<your username>AppDataRoamingMicrosoft here you will find the FSX folder (and one FSX-SE if you had dual install previously) delete them (see below).
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Lastly, head to C:ProgramDataMicrosoft and look for the FSX and FSX-SE folders and delete them if they are still there (see below)

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Next step I recommend a neat little tool CCleaner from Piriform Software. Run a standard clean, then a Registry Clean. When you run the Registry clean, CCleaner will offer to make a backup of the files you are deleting. It’s up to you if you choose to do so. This will remove all the files and MOST of the registry entries from all of those items you have just uninstalled and deleted. Restart your PC.

Once restarted comes the last step, and one that is as vital as it can be hazardous. You need to delete some registry entries. As ruthless as the uninstaller for FSX is, it leaves behind one important piece; the fact that FSX Classic existed on your system. If you do not do this step, you will not be able to achieve your ultimate objective.

Go to Start > Run for Windows 7 or Start > All Apps > Windows System > Run then type regedit and hit OK.

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The Registry Editor will now open.

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Expand out the HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWARE Microsoft Microsoft Games folders.

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There you will find an entry for Flight Simulator (and Flight Simulator – Steam Edition if you have or have had a dual install of both platforms at any time). These two folders need to be deleted. DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING ELSE.

Now we have reached the end of the first act. Pause and thank Microsoft for the joy and experiences you’ve had with Flight Simulator X Classic. Now restart your PC. A new beginning awaits us in Act II – The Restoration, coming soon!

Until next time,

Safe Skies!



Tristan (aka Novawing24) is a self-professed flight simulation addict and YouTuber. His YouTube channel and live streams are popular among the flight simulation community. His favorite add-ons are the J-160 Jabiru and Active Sky Next.