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WoW Beginners Guide: Addons and Addon Installation

Posted Wed, Apr 14, 2010 by Xerin

Addons, also known as “User Interface Modifications” or “U.I. Mods” are additions to World of Warcraft that change the interface and improve upon it, add additional features, and implement new ways for you to interact with WoW. Many of them are useful and provide an improvement in gameplay, many improve how the interface looks, while others simply improve on performance. We’re going to take a good look at what Addons do and how you can install them.

What are addons?

Addons are nifty things that you can install to enhance the native WoW interface or provide additional information or ways to interact with the game. This can include simple changes like altering the font style, consolidating your items into one giant bag instead of multiple smaller bags, improving the chat box, or can be as complex as changing everything about the game’s native U.I., such as the action bars, the unit frames and more.

One of the biggest uses is to condense your bags into one single bag, change your action bars to be simpler and more customizable, and change other things that might annoy you or might function better if done differently. For instance, some players will change their interface to take up as little screen space as possible while others will want to have a ton of information the game doesn’t normally display to them.

Are addons safe?

Yes, they are as long as you follow a simple security rule. NEVER run an executable file (.exe) for an addon unless it’s from a trusted website and that you know for 100% sure it isn’t a virus. Sometimes certain addons do require an executable to upload or send information off somewhere. These are usually from the big WoW sites and are generally safe. However, 99% of the time you won’t need to run an executable. Most addons come in a ZIP or RAR file that are easily opened with Winzip/Winrar/7-Zip and contain nothing that you need to double click.

Other than that, there is no security risk to your account from using addons.

How do I obtain addons?

There are several databases online, but the two I like the most are Curse and WoW Interface. Both sites contain the majority of WoW addons out there and have sortable lists of what’s available. Ten Ton Hammer also has an extensive list of AddOn reviews to help give you a better idea of what some of them do, and whether or not they’re worth the effort of installing. We’ve included a list of some of our top picks towards the end of this guide, so be sure to check them out.

How do I install an addon?

This is simple, once you find where WoW is installed. For Windows XP you simply need to open My Computer, navigate to Program Files, and then navigate to your World of Warcraft folder. If you installed it elsewhere then you’d need to go to where you installed WoW. Windows Vista and Windows 7 users will probably need to navigate to their Program Files (x86) folder if it’s not found in the Program Files folder originally. Once there you’ll want to go to the “Interface” folder and then to “Addons.” Now you simply need to “extract” the addons here and they should be ready to go.

You’ll generally download a .rar file everytime you obtain a  new addon from a website. These can be opened with the Open Source 7-Zip program (or WinZip/WinRar).  Details on using 7-Zip are available on its website. For the most part, you’ll want to open the file with 7-Zip and then drag its contents to your Addons folder.

A good example would MurlocUI.rar. You’d open it with 7-Zip then drag the MurlocUI folder to your Addons folder, as seen below:


Drag the folder from WinRAR/WinZIP/7-zip to your addons folder.

How do I activate/enable/disable an addon in WoW?

Go to your character select screen and in the bottom left corner you’ll see the option to configure your addons. Here you’ll want to take special note to “Load out of Date Addons.” You’ll usually want that turned on for addons that aren’t updated but still work.

How do I configure _______ addon?

There are thousands of available addons out there and it’s nearly impossible to give you instructions for each addon. However, you should always refer to an addon’s page on its respective database for additional instructions on using or configuring it. Many addons also have their options available in the Interface section of your game menu under “Addons.”

What are my action bars? What’s a unit frame?

Action bars are the bars your skills are located on. Unit Frames are the frames on the left hand corner of the screen that show’s your status and your party’s status. Raid Frames are just that, a frame that shows the status of the raid you’re currently in.

Can you recommend some addons?

Here are some positive reviews of addons we’ve given below:


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