How to download and install WoW addons, and some good ones to try

If you want to be able to see what’s going on in Warcraft more clearly, track tiny icons more easily, get hints on what you should be doing on bosses, or learn how much damage you’re doing, you need an “addon”.

There are hundreds of addons available for World of Warcraft. They’re small programs made by other players which make some aspects of playing the game easier or more convenient.

If you’re wondering where to find them, how to install them, how to use them, and what they all do, this is the guide for you.

How to install addons

Installing an addon is really simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Download the addon from a reputable source. See Where to find addons, below.
  • Open the Interface folder within your World of Warcraft installation folder. Windows players will probably find it at c:\Program Files\World of Warcraft. Mac users will need to open /Applications/World of Warcraft/.
  • Open the AddOns folder within the Interface folder. Create it as a new folder if it doesn’t exist.
  • The addon will probably be in a .zip file. Extract it to the AddOns folder. It will appear in its own sub-folder.
  • Restart World of Warcraft if it’s running.

Your character selection screen will now have an AddOns button at the bottom left. You can click that button to enable or disable any of your installed addons.

Use the Curse client

An alternative way to install addons, which is arguably even simpler, is to use the free Curse client from curse.com. The Curse client contains a huge list of common (and not-so-common) WoW addons. Once installed, you can use the Curse client to install a new addon with a single click.

Where to find addons

There’s no official, central repository for addons – all addons are, by nature, unofficial third-party additions to the game – but there are a few big sites to which most addon authors will distribute their addon.

Safe, reputable sites from which to download addons include Curse.com, WoW Interface and Wowace.com

Some addons will have their own dedicated website, adn some addon authors also maintain their own websites – for instance, the popular addon author Tekkub has his own site.

Isn’t this cheating?

No. Blizzard, the company that wrote World of Warcraft, wrote it with the intention that players could create addons, and keep an eye on what the addon community provide. If you can install an addon, it’s OK by Blizzard. Most top WoW players use a lot of addons to help them play as well as possible.

It’s definately not against the World of Warcraft terms of service to use an addon, so you should feel free to install as many addons as you wish.

Are addons safe?

Yes.

Addons are as safe as anything you download from the internet – and the same rules apply:

  • Don’t download from a site you don’t trust
  • Run a virus-checker over the files before you install the addon if you’re worried

World of Warcraft addons are written in a programming language called LUA. You can take a look inside your AddOns folder and read some of the source code if you want to. It might not mean much to you, but the fact that addons are written in ‘raw’ code, rather than ‘compiled’ into a meaningless string of computer text, means that it’s virtually impossible for anybody to sneak in any malicious code.

You don’t have to use any addons at all, but good addons can make your play experience easier and more enjoyable. They can even help you to play better. Here are some of the addons that are regarded as almost obligatory by a lot of players:

Deadly boss mods – makes boss fights clearer and easier

Sometimes refered to as DBM, this addon knows all the tactics and strategy for every current raid boss and dungeon boss. DBM will flash a warning on your screen when the boss performs an ability that needs to be interrupted, or when you should run away from a damaging effect. It can even provide a timer to tell you when the next phase of the fight will start. If you’re a regular raider, or even if you often run 5-man dungeons, this addon is great one to use.

Download Deadly Boss Mods

Alternatives to DBM: Deus Vox Encounters, Bigwigs

Omen – monitor your threat

World of Warcraft has a basic built-in threat warning system, which will tell you if you’re in danger of attracting a mob’s attention (or in danger of losing it, if you’re a tank). If you’d like a slightly more detailed threat management system, though, including the ability to see other players’ threat relative to your own, try Omen.

Download Omen

Alternatives to Omen: Skada

Auctionator – turbo-charge your auctions

The World of Warcraft Auction House can be an intimidating place, but it’s also so absorbing that it’s almost a game in itself. If you want to get more control over the auctions you’re posting, and a better overview of the market on your server, install Auctionator.

Download Auctionator

Alternatives to Auctionator: Auctioneer, Trade Skill Master

Skada – learn how much damage you’re doing

World of Warcraft will show you how much damage you do on each blow, but not how much overall damage you’re doing or how it compares to other players in your group. For that, you need a “Damage Meter” addon. Probably the best one out there at this point is the Skada addon, which will show you more information than you’re ever likely to need about your overall performance in nice graph form.

Download Skada

Keep up to date

It’s important to keep your addons up-to-date, so check every so often to see if the author has released a new version of the addon. Updates to addons often contain new features, but will also fix existing bugs and can make the addon compliant with new World of Warcraft patches.

Addon hell: after a patch

Addons will often stop working after a World of Warcraft patch has been released. If some of your addons stop working, you should check to see if a new version has been released. Addon authors often manage to release a new, fully-fuctional version of their addon mere hours after a new patch. You should also enable the Load out-of-date addons checkbox in the addon selection screen in WoW.


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