While many tout using the mouse for speedy gameplay, you can't overlook the power of the keyboard. While moving and turning is most quickly done with a mouse, it's a slow way to activate spells or open menus, so if you want to speed up your game, it's a good idea to learn WoW's default keyboard shortcuts as well as how to make your own key bindings and macros. We'll cover the basics and help you get started.
WoW's keyboard shortcuts
You may be surprised to see how much you can control with your keyboard. The first step to keyboard mastery is by opening up WoW's key binding interface. Just hit your escape key to open up the game menu and then select Key Bindings. Now, we aren't going to mention every key binding in WoW here, because as you scroll through this menu you'll see there are a lot of them.
Each command listed has two possible keyboard shortcuts associated with it, listed under the Key 1 and Key 2 column. Under each column, it will list a key or mouse button that's bound to the action or say "Not Bound" if there's no key binding for the command. Key 1 and Key 2 function identically to one another; it only offers an option if you want the same command bound to two different keys. For example, keyboard movement is, by default, bound to both the arrow keys and the W, A, S, and D keys -- both work the same to move your character, so it's just a matter of personal preference.
Customizing your own key bindings
Customizing existing key bindings or creating your own is very simple. Just find the command you want to bind and then click on the Key 1 or Key 2 button to the right of the command name. Once you've clicked, the next thing you press on the keyboard becomes your new key binding for that command.
Be warned, it will let you put any keystroke or mouse button in as a key binding -- even if it's already being used for something else! -- so take care not to misclick. If you've made a mistake, just hit Cancel to get out of the Key Binding menu and then go back and try again. You can also click the Reset To Default button in the lower left to, as you'd expect, reset everything to the default key bindings. And if you have a key bound that you don't want bound, just click on the key binding and then click the Unbind Key button along the bottom of the screen.
By default, key bindings will be the same for every character on your account, but if you want different characters to have unique key bindings, click on the Character Specific Key Bindings checkbox in the upper right. Now your key bindings will be unique to each character.
Digging into the key bindings opens up a lot of options you might not know you had, but it still only lets you bind commands Blizzard has configured -- you can't customize it beyond what Blizzard has made available to customize. If key bindings aren't giving you what you're after, macros may be what you're after.
Getting started with macros
Macros allow you to preform complicated tasks at the click of a button by automating several commands into a single macro for you to use. While that might sound fishy, like some kind of cheat or hack, the system is built into the game by Blizzard and can only execute commands Blizzard allows. Macros can get quite sophisticated -- and if you want to dig in to all of the nitty gritty details, we suggest Wowpedia's guide to making macros -- but they're quite easy to get started with.
All you need to do to make your first macro is open the game menu and click Macros. The Create Macros window that pops up will show any macros you already have for all your characters (under the General Macros tab) or just this character (under the Charactername Specific Macros tab). To make a new macro of your own, just select the appropriate tab and then click New at the bottom of the window. You'll then be able to select an icon (it can be any in game icon) and enter commands to make up your macro -- up to 225 characters worth.
Macros are, basically, just a collection of in-game slash commands: you can make them do emotes, cast spells, or use inventory items. Everything in your macro is done at the same time, so anything that triggers the global cool down will prevent you from doing any other actions that trigger the GCD. However, they can tie together several emotes or spells and emotes. So for your first macro, you might enter this as your macro:
/y Everybody, dance now!
Now when you click that macro, your character will yell "Everybody, dance now!" and then /dance. While that's a silly example, it gives you an idea of how to get started. For something with a little more utility value, you might enter this as a macro:
/p Sheeping %t!
This will cast polymorph on your target and also announce you're casting polymorph on your target to the rest of your party. Handy, right?
Unfortunately, it would be impossible for us to go through every possible macro you might want, so if you're interested in investing in the power of macros, you'll have to do some research of your own to find great macros -- or make them yourself. So if you want to dig in to more macro details, we recommend checking out:
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.
Filed under: WoW Rookie