Installing New Addons

Two simple yet important rules to always follow from the outset:
  1. Never rename downloaded addons or allow your computer to append extra things on the file names like prefixes, suffixes and sequential numbering (to overcome duplicates). If a downloaded addon doesn't have a file extension Finder or RapidWeaver recognises, its installation will likely fail.
  2. Disregard any "I know best" opinions or older documentation telling you to double-click to install new addons. Nine times out of ten, this fails; with the addon being wrongly installed into another copy of RapidWeaver on your computer (like a previous version or backup). In 2020 and going forwards, dragging-and-dropping addons onto the RapidWeaver dock icon is the officially recognised install procedure, which works best.

Please now read the remainder of this help document, to ensure you properly understand the role of addons in RapidWeaver and how to install them correctly. This will save you a lot of time, effort and potentially money! It may also help reduce the number of support emails we get sent, allowing for more time to be dedicated towards making new addons.

RapidWeaver (developed by Realmac Software) is the core application you install on your computer. You will normally see its icon in your Applications folder or within your Mac OS Dock at the bottom of the screen. You can only install and use RapidWeaver addons after first installing RapidWeaver on your computer. This is what the main application typically looks like:

The main RapidWeaver window.

Because RapidWeaver is a modular application, you may need to install additional ‘addons’. Such addons could include themes, page type plugins, stack elements (for the Stacks page type plugin) or code snippets.

The whole setup is similar to software like Adobe Photoshop; whereby traditionally you would install the software first and then install additional addons later on - like extra brush sets, clipping shapes, fonts or patterns. RapidWeaver and its relation to addons is not much different.

Most addons for RapidWeaver are distributed in compressed .zip packages. You would normally download these files using links in an email sent to you or via links you click in your web browser software (like Safari, Chrome or Firefox).

Downloaded addons normally arrive onto your computer, within your Downloads folder in Finder. But addons might download somewhere else, if you have opted for your web browser to save files elsewhere.

A new stack in Finder.

The time it takes an addon to download depends on the speed of your internet connection. Sometimes if a website or particular download is very popular, the download might take longer than normal. Many addons are commonly less-than 15 MB in size.

Most developers use Paddle, E-Junkie or CartLoom for the checkout systems. Normally you buy an addon through the website and get sent a download link by email, once the transaction has completed. If you do not receive an email receipt after a short period of time, carefully check your spam or junk mail folders.

If provided, always make use of free demo versions provided, so you know exactly what you are buying. Only buy addons from genuine websites. Some addons are provided for free or on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.

Most of the time, your computer will automatically un-compress or un-zip the .zip file package after the download completes. If this does not happen, then double-click on the .zip file with your mouse.

NEVER rename addons or allow your computer to change the name of an addon. This could otherwise cause you to mistakenly have duplicates of the same addon installed; leading to problems like settings not taking effect, installation failing, demo watermarks not being removed or content not being saved. For example, if you download a stack called S4S-AddonName.stack it should always retain that same name and extension. Do not be tempted to change the filename yourself or allow your computer to append other words or numbers after the file name like S4S-AddonName.stack 1 or S4S-AddonName Copy.stack otherwise this can cause you a lot of problems.

To avoid duplicates, you only have to click and download an addon once. You should never need to have more than one copy of an addon in your downloads folder.

The easiest and most reliable way to get your addons into RapidWeaver is to single-click the addon with your mouse (to select it). Then drag and drop the addon onto your RapidWeaver dock icon:

RapidWeaver in the Dock.

RapidWeaver will then display a message on-screen to tell you what is about to be installed:

The RapidWeaver Add-on Installer.

A second message is displayed soon-after, confirming what has been installed.

Sometimes if you are trying to replace a free demo version addon with a full version or replacing an older version of an addon with a newer one, RapidWeaver might prompt you with a different message and ask if you want to continue.

It is a good idea to quit and restart RapidWeaver. Sometimes an addon does not show in RapidWeaver until after RapidWeaver is restarted (even if RapidWeaver claims the addon was successfully installed). This is especially true for new stacks.

RapidWeaver addons are installed on your computer. Within RapidWeaver preferences, you can optionally change the location where RapidWeaver stores your addons. Be sure to choose a location that is reliably always available to you.

The RapidWeaver Add-on Manager.

Different RapidWeaver addons are selected for use in different places within the main application. Themes will be listed under your Themes selection panel. Stacks are available in the Stacks Library. New page types get listed under the ‘Add’ button. And code snippets will be listed in the RapidWeaver Snippets window.

The RapidWeaver Theme Chooser.

Resolving installation problems

Sometimes an addon you install might not be shown in RapidWeaver. There are a number of possible reasons for this, including:

  • The addon is not compatible with your setup. Check the system requirements on the website carefully for the addon.
  • You might be looking in the wrong place for the addon. For example, themes will not be listed in the Stacks library or snippets window.
  • Have you chosen to hide or filter certain addons? Plugins like Stacks let you create ‘favourite’ lists and suchlike, so new addons may not be immediately visible until you change your viewing preferences.
  • Some addons have dependencies on other software or plugins. For example, stack elements are only available to use if you have the Stacks plugin installed in RapidWeaver.
  • Has your RapidWeaver addons folder changed location or moved to a place (like a disconnected external hard drive or NAS) where it is no longer available?
  • Are you dragging and dropping the addon onto the correct version of RapidWeaver in your Dock? In recent years it has been possible to install and use multiple versions of RapidWeaver on the same computer.

Addon developers are not normally to blame for addons that do not install correctly! The actual mechanism for installing new addons is a core component of RapidWeaver itself; and not the individual addons you are trying to install. Most addons are a package of files and contain no executable code. So if problems persist, you should raise a support ticket with Realmac Software or seek help on the forums.

Managing addons

Managing addons in RapidWeaver is easy too. Click RapidWeaver > Preferences in the main RapidWeaver menu bar. In the new preferences window that opens, click on Addons (the pink button with a 2-pin plug).

The RapidWeaver Theme Manager.

All your addons are sorted into folders, by developer or company. Open a folder to view its contents. The name of the addon, its icon and its version number are shown to you. Right-click an addon and select either Reveal, Delete or Visit Developer options.

Of note, from the RapidWeaver Preferences > Addons window, you can also click the Reveal in Finder button to collectively access and view all your installed addons. Or use the Export Addons Directory button to move all your addons to a backup or another computer.

The exact steps for installing and managing RapidWeaver addons has changed between versions. These instructions are written for RapidWeaver 8. Some of the things discussed are applicable to RapidWeaver 6 and RapidWeaver 7 too.

Deleting addons

Occasionally people have asked how to delete addons from RapidWeaver. For example, addons that a developer has now marked as obsolete (unsupported / end of life) or simply addons that aren't being used any more, to free-up some more space. Typically you can open the addons manager (discussed above), right-click on the addon to delete, and then click the delete option in the popup menu.

It may be wise to move deleted addons into a folder somewhere else on your computer for a few months, before you permanently delete them. That way if you accidentally removed something from RapidWeaver that you were actually still using and had forgotten about, it's easy to get the missing addon back into RapidWeaver and functioning again.


It is strongly recommend that you routinely run Time Machine or third party backup software (like Carbon Copy Cloner or Disk Drill) to keep all your RapidWeaver addons and project files suitably backed-up. This will ensure that should you suffer a fatal data loss, you can quickly and easily recover all your files. Don't wait for a disaster to happen before thinking about how to recover from a data loss!
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