Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

For other uses, see Detect Life.

Detect Life is an adept Alteration spell in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that enables the caster to see the aura of nearby living creatures, even through walls. This spell does not work on undead, machines, or Daedra.


  • The Detect Life spell allows the user to distinguish between friendly and hostile characters through the color of the mist it uses to show their presence—hostile characters are red, and friendly characters are light blue.
    • Note that the blue mist surrounding what appears to be a friendly character or creature may become red mist as the Dragonborn approaches and the being becomes hostile on sight.
  • Useful for stealth-oriented classes, as it can be used to find out how many foes are in the next room, then calculate an efficient plan of attack.
  • Can be extremely efficient at raising Alteration, as it increases the amount of experience gain the more targets it is able to see. For example, seeing one person may take a couple of minutes to increase, while seeing two people will cut that in half. So to get the most of this spell, one should cast it in a major city such as the Whiterun or Riften markets.

Spell tome[]



  • Weight: 1 WeightIcon
  • Value: 332 Gold
  • See Spell Tome for a complete table of spell tomes, their descriptions, and their values.



  • Members of the Psijic Order are not affected by the Detect Life Spell, since they are marked as ghosts in Creation Kit.
  • If a character uses the Detect Life Spell, the Dragonborn can 'sense' it being used on them by hearing the heartbeat sound effect and seeing the visual effect on their body when viewing third-person or having their POV slightly filtered blue in first-person.
  • Colette Marence can be found using this spell at the College of Winterhold Hall of Countenance.


This section contains bugs related to Detect Life (Skyrim). Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  PC   PS3   As a vampire, using Detect Life while out in the day will sometimes result in limitless use of the spell, thus providing unlimited experience. This can sometimes be triggered by moving in any direction right as magicka runs out.