Updated Fri, Dec 11, 2009 by Xerin
U.I. Mods (also known as Interface Mods, Addons, etc.) are modifications to the game that change the way you interact with the interface. They can be small modifications such as changing the action bars around a little or giving you more chat windows or they can be complete overhauls of the game’s interface replacing everything with something new. They are not created by Blizzard, by the nature of them defying Blizzard’s design, but are instead allowed by Blizzard through their own U.I. scripting engine.
U.I. Mods must be downloaded outside of the game from the Internet and installed separately from the game. It’s a simple process but can be quite confusing for even those who are computer savvy. Let’s go over each step separately.
Obtaining U.I. Mods
To obtain a U.I. Mod you’ll have to brave the Internet and locate a mod that you’d like to use. Search engines can help you find certain mods which will typically be in a “zip” format while some are rarely in a “rar” format. These are forms of compression to make the entire package smaller and keep all of its content together neatly in one file. You’ll need a program to “unzip” or “unrar” the file to decompress it. This is generally where things get rough for a little bit.
I suggest you download the mod to your desktop or any other easily accessible folder. We have a step to wrangle the files out of the mod first.
Decompressing the Modification
You’ll first need a program in order to decompress (or in Internet lingo unzip) the file that you have downloaded. Luckily in this modern time most computers have either Windows XP or Windows Vista which has integrated support for opening “ZIP” files and decompressing them. If the file you have downloaded is openable by Windows then you can freely skip this entire step.
If you’re using a different operating system then I suggest 7-zip which is a free open source file (de)compressor that can open both ZIP, RAR, and many other compressed files. It’s also simplistic to use. Alternatives include WinZip and WinRar which do cost money and will nag you if you don’t pay. Whichever one you use you’ll want to go ahead and open the mod and find the “extract” button. In all three programs you’ll find it at the top.
Installing the Mod
To install the mod by using windows to unzip the file then you’ll want to click on “Extract all Files” which will bring up the Extraction Wizard. Click next to enter the second screen which will say “Files will be extracted to this directory:” where you will want to place “C:\program files\world of warcraft\Interface\AddOns” without the quotes inside of the box. If you installed WoW in another folder and you know where it’s at then change the C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\ to the location you installed WoW (but make sure Interface\AddOns precedes it). If you installed WoW elsewhere and you’re not sure then click Browse… and explore to where the AddOns folder is with WoW’s directory.
If you’re using a separate program then open the mod within the program and use the programs features to decompress the mod to “C:\program files\world of warcraft\Interface\AddOns” (without the quotes). Each program generally has a simplistic interface with an Extract button somewhere near the top. Alternatively, if you’re computer savvy enough you can often just open “C:\program files\world of warcraft\Interface\AddOns” either by exploring to it from My Computer or typing it into the Run box and then dragging the files to it.
That’s it! Once the mod is extracted to the Interface/AddOns folder it is installed. There is nothing more you need to do. If the mod is out of date then you’ll, of course, need to open the AddOn options at the character select screen and check the box to run out of date addons.
Uninstall U.I. Mods
There may come a time where you’ll no longer want to use a mod. There is two ways to uninstall a mod. A soft and a hard way. The soft way is to go the character select screen and click the “AddOns” button at the lower left where you can uncheck a mod to disable it. Once it’s disabled here it will no longer function within the game.
The hard way is to open “C:\program files\world of warcraft\Interface\AddOns” or wherever your WoW is installed and physically delete the mod. It will no longer function within the game because it longer exists within the addons folder.
Addons do save a lot of settings to the WTF folder, but the manner in which they do changes mod to mod and you shouldn’t need to worry about removing anything from there.
A Word of Warning
A lot of virus spreaders will use people who want to upgrade their interface as targets for their nefarious deeds. WoW protects you from viruses by using its own scripting language which is completely harmless and can only affect things within the game. If you extract something to the AddOn folder only then there is nothing anyone can do to get you.
Often enough though many people will slip executables into the mix (something that requires you to run it, .exe files) and tell you to run the program in order to either install the mod or have the mod work. For instance it may tell you to run this program and then load WoW in order for this mod to work or it may tell you to run this program and it’ll update all of your mods for you or it’ll offer an easy to install file that will automatically install the mod for you.
In some of these scenarios (except for the first one) there may be legit intentions behind it. You should be very wary of any mod that makes you run any kind of program. You should never have to run any kind of program to install a mod except something to extract the file (and that’s taken care of by Windows itself 90% of the time). That is why you should be cautious of any mod that asks you to run anything other than starting WoW the normal way. Naturally there are some exceptions like mods that submit information to databases (Blizzard’s U.I. doesn’t allow for data transfer to websites) and some programs which actually do keep your mods up to date. You should still check the source and do a proper virus scan on any file you download.
If you see an .exe file inside of the mod’s zip file then I suggest backing away immediately. It’s a common way people are able to either install viruses or steal passwords. Remember that the simple xml and lua files that Blizzard loads can no harm your computer in anyway. As long as they’re within the /AddOns/ folder. Running anything or using any program can harm your computer. So remember to be cautious, download things from trusted sources, and always keep yourself protected with a solid virus scanner.
Well that’s all there is to installing mods for Windows users. Thanks for reading!