While ObEdit is very similar in appearance to the Construction Set, there are many notable differences. If you are used to using the CS there will be things you must 'unlearn' which will make editing in ObEdit easier and faster.
 Your First Plugin
To create a new and empty plugin file simply press the new icon on the toolbar (upper left) or use the File-New menu command. The new plugin will be empty and Oblivion.esm will not be loaded. While this saves time it means you cannot use any records from Oblivion.esm (if you need to use a master file see the instructions on loading further below).
 Create a New Item
On the left side of the new plugin window is a record tree displaying all the various types of records in the file. The right side of the screen is a record list showing all matching records of the currently selected type in the record tree. Everything will be empty now since this is a new plugin. To create a new record select the desired type in the record tree, say Armors, and then right-click in the record list and pick the New command. A new Armor edit dialog will popup.
 Edit the Item
Make any desired changes to the new armor. The only required field is the EditorID which must be a unique alpha-numeric string identifying the record. The record cannot be saved if the editorid is invalid or already in use. Press F1 to open up a web browser and jump to the appropriate page on the UESP or CS wikis for specific help on the particular item being edited.
 Save Changes
Note that any changes you make on this dialog are not actually saved until you press either the Save or Apply button. Save will attempt to save the record and close the dialog on success while Apply does the same thing except the dialog is left open. Note that if there are any errors during the save/apply process the changes will not be saved. Cancel, obviously, cancels any changes made (since the record was last applied).
Once you save the new armor you can edit it again simply by double-clicking (or right clicking and selecting the Edit command). All records are created, and edited, in exactly the same manner.
 Save the Plugin
Saving is done like in most Windows programs via the Save and Save As commands on the toolbar or in the File menu. It is possible to save the plugin in a directory other than Oblivion's Data but you will not be able to reload it from ObEdit, the CS or the game. A backup copy of the plugin is always created when saving (unless the option is disabled). The default backup location is the Oblivion\Data\Backup directory.
Note that unlike in the CS you can save with open edit dialogs, but be aware that any changes to the records will not be saved to the plugin file until the record changes are saved or applied.
 Loading Plugins and Masters
Loading a plugin along with multiple master files is pretty much the same in ObEdit as in the CS. Click the load button in the toolbar or the File-Load menu command to display the load dialog. Select any desired master files and optionally an active plugin by checking them (double-clicking also works). Note that if you select a regular plugin it must be the active file and the only plugin file selected. Oblivion does not permit plugins to depend on other plugins like Morrowind.
If you wish to create a new plugin then select only the desired master files and no plugin file.
For performance purposes the primary master file, Oblivion.esm, is only loaded once each session. This allows multiple plugins to be loaded and edited without requiring massive amounts of memory. Note that this only occurs if Oblivion.esm is the first master file in a plugin which should always be the case.
 Loading Without Masters
It is possible to load a plugin without loading any masters it depends upon. The plugin can be safely loaded and saved but you will receive warning messages when loading.
It may be difficult, or impossible, to properly edit some information in the plugin with missing master files. Some information will be missing and you will not be able to reference records in those master files.
 Advanced Editing
There are many advanced editing features in ObEdit, some similar to those in the CS, some improved, and some completely new.
Some general editing features include:
- Undo -- Use the Edit-Undo menu command or double-click an item in the undo toolbar (View-Undo Bar). Most edit, add, and delete actions can be undone.
- Help -- Help can be activated at anytime by pressing the F1 key which will launch your default web browser and attempt to connect to the appropriate page on the UESP or CS wiki (set in options file).
- Tooltips -- Tooltips are displayed for most controls in record edit dialogs.
- Warning and Error Log -- The warning and error log at the bottom of the main window displays various system messages during editing. Minor warnings will appear here while more serious errors will result in a popup message box. The error bar can be hidden/show with the View-Error Bar' menu command.
- Edit Base Records -- Records in the main list can be edited by double-clicking. Records in other lists, such as leveled lists or containers, can similarly be edited by Alt-double-clicking or by right-clicking and selecting the Edit Base Record command.
- Sort By Active Records -- Sort the record list by the Flags column and all active records (records in the active plugin displayed with a *) will appear at the top. Active and deleted records are also color-coded by default.
- Find -- Similar to the CS find but searches more (essentially all) locations and records can be directly edited by double-clicking them in the results list. Searching for binary hexadecimal data is also supported.
- Custom Record Tree -- The record tree in the main window can be customized by editing the DisplayFilters.dat file and restarting ObEdit.
 Copying and Renaming
Records can be copied or renamed by several methods.
- Edit a record, change its editorid, and save/apply the changes. You will be prompted with a Copy/Rename/Cancel message box. If you cancel the record changes are not saved. Copy will create a new record with a new formid and the new editorid. Rename will simply change the editorid of the record (be careful of any references using the old editorid).
- Right-click a record in the main list and choose the Copy or Rename commands. A message box will come up to prompt you for a new editorid.
- You cannot change the editorid by modifying it in the main record list like in the CS.
 Drag and Drop
ObEdit supports drag and drop operations, similar to the CS, but in more places. Note that when dragging a drop operation is only considered valid if all records can be dropped onto the target.
- Drag one or more records from the main record list to a container or leveled list.
- Drag one or more records from one container to another. The item count is copied as well.
- Drag one or more records from one leveled list of the same type to another. The item count and level is copied as well.
- Drag one or more effects from one effect record (spell, enchantment, sigil stone, ingredient, potion) to another.
- Drag a script onto a script field in a record dialog. The same thing can be done for other similar fields like enchantments, sounds, etc....
- Drag a file from the resource viewer onto the model or icon field of a record dialog.
 Clean Records
This is a new command in ObEdit that allows a record to be completely removed from the active plugin. If a previous version of the record exists in master file that instance will be used. If the record only exists in the active file it will be deleted.
To clean select one or more records in the main list, right-click and choose the Clean command. The clean action can be undone.
Be careful when cleaning records referenced by other records, for example cleaning an enchantment used by several weapons.
 Batch Edit
Another useful and new feature is the batch edit command. To use, select one or more records in the main record list, right-click, and choose the Batch Edit command. This will display the batch edit dialog which lists all fields common to the selected records (if the selected records have no fields in common an error occurs).
The batch edit dialog lists all fields in a list along with their initial values (taken from the first selected record). Initially, all fields are unchecked which means their values will not be updated when saved. To make a change, edit a desired field and check it. When saved, all records will have that field set to the same value.
Note that some fields cannot be set from the batch edit dialog, for example book and script texts.
 Import and Export
The import/export feature of ObEdit is much improved over that in the CS. Currently you can import/export from/to a CSV file (Comma Separated Value) which can created by a text editor or most spreadsheet programs.
The first row in the CSV to be imported must be a list of known fields. The easiest way to get a list of supported fields is to export a sample set of records of the same type. You can then copy the field list from the exported CSV file to create the import file. Unwanted fields can be removed. The only required fields are the record type (Name?) and editorid (EditorID).
When importing the formid field is ignored and automatically set by ObEdit. If the editorid is already in use and has the same type as the imported record the existing record is replaced. If the editorid is in use by a different record type that row is not imported.
Exporting records is a simple matter of selecting the records to export and choosing the export command in the File-Export menu.
Field values in CSV files are in escaped format, with extended characters represented in %00 hexadecimal notation. This allows virtually all fields to be exported although some are inconvenient, such as book and script texts which result in very long rows when exported.