Making a macro

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Category:Macros

Useful macros by class

Useful macros for death knights Useful macros for demon hunters Useful macros for druids Useful macros for hunters Useful macros for mages Useful macros for monks
Useful macros for paladins Useful macros for priests Useful macros for rogues Useful macros for shamans Useful macros for warlocks Useful macros for warriors

A macro is a list of slash commands. Common slash commands include the following:

  • /say (/s)
  • /whisper (/w, /talk, /t)
  • /reply (/r)
  • /emote (/e, /em, /me)
  • /dance

With macros, these commands can be used from action buttons, and many of them can be used at once. Each unique command goes on its own line and is written exactly as it would be typed it in the chat box. For instance, a macro that makes the player yell "Everybody, dance now!" and burst into dance would be written thus.

/y Everybody, dance now!
/dance

A mostly complete list of slash commands is available at Macro API. Wowpedia is a great source of additional information for macros, especially scripts using the /run command (which will be covered later).

Note: Macros run all the commands at once. This means that when you click the button, the macro runs each command from start to finish before returning control to the game. This has two important effects. First, if you write a macro that takes a long time to execute (like /run for i=1, 100000000 do end), the game will freeze for as long as it takes to run the macro.

Second, and arguably more important, there is no way to wait in a macro without freezing the game. This fact will become much more apparent when we start dealing with the /cast command and its ilk. Some addons can provide a way to issue a command at a later time, but they can only be used for "benign" functions like chatting, emotes, and issuing commands to other addons (though equipping weapons in combat is allowed).

Contents

Making a macro

First, open up the macro window. You can do this either by opening the main menu and selecting Macros, or by typing /macro (/m) in the chat box. At the top of the window, you'll see two tabs: General Macros and Yourname Specific Macros. General macros are stored on an account-by-account basis and are shared by all your characters. Character specific macros are, well, I think you can figure this one out yourself. :P Immediately under the tabs is a grid of 18 boxes where the macros are displayed. Under those, there is a single box which displays your currently-selected macro with a Change Name/Icon button next to it. Below that is the edit box where you actually type the macro. Finally, at the bottom you have a number of self-explanatory buttons.

To create a macro, click the New button at the bottom of the window. This brings up another small window off to the side where you choose the icon and type a name for the macro. If you choose the question mark icon (Inv misc questionmark.png), WoW will automatically pick an icon for your macro based on what spells or items are listed in the macro. Once you have chosen an icon and a name, click the Okay button.

A few notes: You can control what icon is shown in place of the question mark with the #show command. Although you can name two macros the same, it is better to avoid this since some functions of addons or even certain macro commands reference macros by name. You can also add custom icons to the list (see the Part III).

Now you will notice that the macro icon you chose has been added to the 18 boxes mentioned earlier (as much of the name as will fit is also displayed on the icon). The newly created macro will also be selected so now it's time to start writing your macro. Click in the edit box of the macro window to start typing.

Note: Macros have a 255 character limit. Rumor has it that this is because they store macros on the servers (since patch 3.0.2).

When you are done typing your macro, click the Save button, drag the macro's icon from the grid and place it on an action button. The macro will also be automatically saved when you first try to use it or when you close the macros window. Click the button, and there you have it!

Casting spells

During the normal course of play, you aren't likely to type many slash commands that are generally useful for macros. Sure, the occasional emote macro can make for some interesting role playing, but c'mon... There's got to be more to it than that...

There is. Enter /cast, the most common command you will see in macros. The /cast command allows you to cast any spell from your (or your pet's) spell book by name. The simplest case is a command like:

/cast Shadow Word: Pain

This macro will cast Shadow Word: Pain on your target. It behaves exactly as if you had dragged SW:P onto that spot on your action bar. The action bar code recognizes the spell and will show cooldown and range feedback on the icon. In fact, if you choose the question mark icon I mentioned earlier, the action bar will even show the icon for SW:P.

"Ho, hum," you might be thinking... Why not just put the spell on your bar? Well, that's where combining multiple commands comes in handy, and this is exactly what makes macros so useful. What if you're a mage and you want to let your party know that you're about to sheep something? Well, simply put the cast and /p message in a macro:

/cast Polymorph
/p Sheeping %t! You spank it, you tank it!

Note: Since the macro is executed all at once, the /p command will be issued when you start the cast, and will not care either way whether you have a valid target or whether Polymorph is on cooldown. This also means you can put the two commands in either order and it will have the same effect.

There are also addons that handles this, such as Raeli's Spell Announcer.

Notes about spell names

The /cast command is pretty picky when it comes to your spell name. In order for it to successfully cast a spell you must use correct spelling, punctuation, spacing, etc. The best way to guarantee you enter the right name is to open your spell book while writing the macro, place your cursor in the macro where the spell should be, and shift-click the spell in your spell book. This will enter the exact name of the spell, including any modifiers like Druid forms for the Mangle ability.

Using items and trinkets

Simple answer: the same way you cast a spell. The command for using an item is (you guessed it) /use. Like /cast, its simplest form takes the name of the item you want to use:

/use Green Mechanostrider

There are also a couple other forms of the /use command:

/use <inventory slot>

This form of use allows you to use an item in the specified slot. See also InventorySlotId for lists of the slot numbers. Example:

/use 13

Uses whatever is in your top trinket slot.

/use <bag> <slot>

You can also use an item in a specific bag location. Lets say you always keep the food you want to feed your pet in the first slot of your backpack. You can easily write a macro to feed your pet as follows:

/cast Feed Pet
/use 0 1

Bags are numbered 0-4 from right to left (0 is always the backpack) and the slots are numbered starting at 1 going left to right, top to bottom (like reading):

1  2  3  4
5  6  7  8
...

or

      1  2
3  4  5  6
7  8  9  10
...

Trading risk of confusion for completeness, I'll let you know that /cast and /use function exactly the same way. /cast can use items and /use can cast spells. This isn't very useful for simple macros like you've seen so far. However, when you start dealing with macro options and sequences you'll be happy to know that you can intermingle items and spells in the same command.

Multiple actions with one click

In general, you cannot cast more than one spell with a single click of a macro. Most spells and some items trigger the global cooldown (GCD) which keeps you from taking too many actions at once. Even if a spell fails to cast, if it would trigger the GCD, it prevents subsequent /casts in the macro from running. This was not the case prior to patch 2.0 which is why you may still come across macros like the following:

/cast Overpower
/cast Execute
/cast Mortal Strike
/cast Sunder Armor

Macros like this do not work anymore. As soon as Overpower fails to cast, the game will block all the other spells from casting as well, even though the GCD is not actually triggered.

There is a bit of good news, though. Certain spells can actually be cast at the same time in a single macro. Any spell that is instant and does not trigger the GCD can be followed by another cast. The spell's tooltip will tell you if it's instant, but you have to use the spell (or check a database site such as wowhead.com) to know if it triggers the GCD.

Prior to patch 2.3 it was necessary to place a /stopcasting command after the instant, non-GCD spells (but not items). The game engine assumed that after the first /cast is attempted, a spell is now in progress. /stopcasting removes this assumption and prevents the "Another action is in progress" error. Since the spell is instant, /stopcasting does not actually cancel the cast. Example:

/cast Furious Howl
/stopcasting
/cast Blood Fury
/stopcasting
/cast Call of the Wild

Note that since patch 2.3, this is no longer necessary. The above macro can be shortened to:

/cast Furious Howl
/cast Blood Fury
/cast Call of the Wild

Targeting

Targeting is another common task in macros. This is accomplished either by using dedicated targeting slash commands which actually change your target or by using the [@unit] macro option on commands that accept them. When you use the macro option, you are actually casting the spell or using the item directly on the unit without changing targets. Macro options will be covered in great detail in Part II. For now, I'll show you how to use the targeting commands.

The most basic targeting command (unsurprisingly) is /target. Its use is as simple as

/target Cogwheel

/target does a closest match which means if you do /target Cog and I'm standing near you (and no one named Cog is) it will target me. This is a plus or a minus depending on your situation. Unfortunately, it will also target irrelevant units. This makes macros like the following much less useful than they might first appear.

/target Blackwing Mage
/cast Bane of Agony

If no Blackwing Mages are around, this might target someone in your raid who happens to have the letters B and L in their name. While they're safe from the wrath of your curse, it's still a bit disconcerting. Another problem is that it may target something 100 yards behind you that you don't really care about. (Patch 2.3 added the /targetexact command to eliminate part of the problem.)

In addition to specifying the name of someone you would like to target, you can also provide a unit ID. Unit IDs are a way to identify a particular character, mob, NPC, etc. For instance, your current target can always be accessed by the "target" unit ID (obviously not the most useful for the command we're discussing at the moment :P). You yourself are accessed by the "player" ID, and if you have a pet it would be referenced by "pet." You can also append "target" to the end of any valid unit ID to arrive at that unit's target. There is a joke about Kevin Bacon involving a macro like:

/target targettargettargettargettargettarget

UnitId has a full list of allowed IDs.

Other targeting commands

Here is a brief overview of the other targeting commands:

/assist

By itself, assist targets your target's target (e.g. if you are targeting me, and I'm targeting Iriel, /assist would make you target Iriel). You can also provide a name or unit to /assist and you will assist the specified entity:

/assist Cogwheel 

There is an interface option which will automatically start you attacking if you end up with a hostile target.

/cleartarget

Leaves you with no target.

/targetexact

Targets a unit with the exact name listed. If the name is spelled wrong or that unit is not near you, your target will not be changed.

/targetlasttarget, /targetlastfriend, /targetlastenemy

As the names suggest, these commands will target your previous target, your last targeted friend, or your last targeted enemy. If you previously had no target, this command will do nothing.

/targetenemy, /targetfriend

These commands cycle through the specified type of unit. /targetenemy is like pressing TAB, and /targetfriend is like pressing CTRL-TAB. You can also add a parameter of 1 which reverses the direction of the cycle (/targetenemy 1 is like pressing SHIFT-TAB).

Note: You can only use these commands once per macro.

/targetenemy
/targetenemy 1
/targetfriend
/targetfriend 1

/targetenemyplayer, /targetfriendplayer

These commands cycle through player-controlled units. They behave just like /targetfriend and /targetenemy except they will only target other players, ignoring computer-controlled units like NPC mobs, pets, minions, creations, etc. They are useful for PvP. As with /targetenemy, a 1 may be added to reverse the direction.

/targetenemyplayer
/targetenemyplayer 1
/targetfriendplayer
/targetfriendplayer 1

Note: You can only use these commands once per macro.

/targetparty, /targetraid

Cycles through your nearest party or raid members. Like /targetenemy, you can add a 1 to reverse the direction.

/targetparty
/targetparty 1
/targetraid
/targetraid 1

Pet control

As mentioned in the spell casting section, you can use /cast to cast your pet's abilities by name. In fact, Blizzard had to change the name of the Mage elemental's Frost Nova to Freeze because there was no way to use it in a macro. But as everyone with a pet is aware, that's nowhere near the end of the line for pet control. Luckily the Burning Crusade patches brought us a host of new pet commands:

/petattack

Sends your pet to attack your target. You can also specify a name or unit ID and your pet will attack that instead.

/petfollow

Causes your pet to follow you, cancelling its attack if necessary.

/petstay

Causes your pet to hold at it's current location until given another command.

/petmoveto

Brings up a targeting reticule. Click on the ground at a location and your pet will move there.

/petpassive, /petdefensive

Sets the reaction mode of your pet just like the buttons on your pet bar.

/petautocaston, /petautocastoff, /petautocasttoggle

These commands manipulate the auto-cast of a given pet spell. The first will always turn auto-cast on, and the second will turn it off. Example:

/petautocaston Torment
/petautocastoff Suffering  

Recently, a new command has been added which will toggle a pet's auto-cast spells, petautocasttoggle. Example:

/petautocasttoggle Fire Breath

This will turn the auto-cast on if it is currently off, or off if it is current on, which can entirely replace the former command depending on the planned use.

Controlling button feedback and the question mark icon (Inv misc questionmark.png) with #show

By default, WoW uses the first spell or item that appears in a macro to show cooldown, range, and availability feedback on the button, and to pick which icon to display when you use the question mark icon. Take our multi-spell macro from earlier as an example:

/use Talisman of Ephemeral Power
/cast Arcane Power
/cast Presence of Mind
/cast Pyroblast

With this macro, WoW chooses Arcane Power for the feedback. However, this is probably not what you really want. The main point of this spell is to cast Pyroblast. The first few lines merely exist as support spells to make the Pyroblast more effective. You can make the button behave as if Pyroblast were the first spell by adding the following line to the top of the macro:

#show Pyroblast

If you used the question mark icon for the macro, the button will even have the icon of Pyroblast without any extra effort on your part. The parameter to #show (in this case Pyroblast) works the same way as the /cast and /use commands. You can use a spell name, item name, item id (item:12345), inventory slot, or bag and slot numbers.

Similar to #show is #showtooltip. Normally when you mouse over a macro on an action bar, your tooltip displays the name of the macro. This is not incredibly useful most of the time (especially if you use an addon like TheoryCraft to give you detailed spell information in tooltips). However, the #showtooltip command allows you to specify a spell to use in the tooltip the same way as #show. If you use #showtooltip, you do not need to use #show.

If you're happy with the spell that WoW is choosing for the feedback, you can use #showtooltip without a spell to save space in your macro. WoW will still use whichever spell it was choosing before, but it will now show the tooltip info for that spell/item.

You cannot use #show and #showtooltip in the same macro, the second one will be ignored.

Please Note: unlike slash commands, #show and #showtooltip must be written in lower case letters.

Conditionals for #show(tooltip)

The #showtooltip and #show commands will also accept the conditionals found further below. Here's a simple example:

#showtooltip [modifier:shift] Conjure Food; Conjure Water

This line at the top of the macro will show icon and tooltip corresponding to the Conjure Water spell, unless shift is held down, in which case Conjure Food will be used instead, regardless of what else the macro is doing and which spells it is using.

Other slash commands

Now that you have a solid foundation I'd like to briefly cover some of the other slash commands at your disposal. Some of these commands may seem a bit pointless at first glance, but when you combine them with the macro options from Part II, they can perform some neat tricks.

Equipping items

There are three commands for equipping items: /equip, /equipslot, and /equipset. /equip simply takes an item name and will equip it to the default slot as if you had right-clicked it in one of your bags (i.e., a one-handed weapon will be equipped to your main hand). /equipslot takes an inventory slot ID and an item name, and equips the item to the specified slot. Note that when using /equipslot, you must respecify the slot for each set of conditionals. If you use the Blizzard equipment manager and save an equipment set, you can use the /equipset command to use it. Examples:

Equip a weapon to default slot:

/equip Honed Voidaxe

Equip a trinket to the lower trinket slot:

/equipslot 14 Carrot on a Stick

Save two equipment sets. One called Tank that has a sword and shield equipped, one called DPS that has a two handed weapon equipped. Use this macro to switch between the two:

/equipset [equipped:Shields] DPS; Tank

If you have a shield on, it'll equip your saved DPS set, otherwise it'll equip your saved Tank set.


Swap between your offhand and a shield:

/equipslot [equipped:Shields] 17 Merciless Gladiator's Cleaver; 17 Crest of the Sha'tar

Note: If you are trying to equip two of the same weapon simultaneously into different slots, your macro will not work properly.

Note: Addons are allowed to use the equipping functions directly, even during combat.

Sequencing spells and items

Many times you will find yourself casting a series of spells or use certain items in the same order on pretty much any mob you fight. To make this job a bit easier, we have the /castsequence command. /castsequence takes a list of spells and/or items separated by commas. These follow the same rules as /cast and /use. This means you can interchange spell names, item names, item IDs, inventory slots, and bag slot combinations. Each time you run the macro, it activates the current spell/item. If the spell or item is used successfully, the sequence will move to the next entry. You must repeatedly activate the macro to use all the spells in the sequence. Once you use the last entry in the list, it will reset to the beginning. Example:

/castsequence Immolate, Corruption, Bane of Agony, Siphon Life

This might be something you would use for a Warlock's opening attack. Note, however, that if Immolate fails to cast for some reason (out of mana, not in range, silenced, etc.), the sequence will remain at that point. Because of this, you cannot use a /castsequence to make a spammable macro like:

/castsequence Overpower, Execute, Mortal Strike

Before the spell list (but always after the conditionals), you can also specify reset conditions to start the sequence over before it reaches the end. The basic syntax for reset conditions is:

reset=n/target/combat/shift/alt/ctrl


Where n is the number of seconds of inactivity after which the macro should be reset. In other words, if more than n seconds pass without the macro being called, then the next time you call it the sequence will start from the first spell. Note that this is not the time since the first spell in the sequence was cast, but rather the time since the macro was last called (to cast any of the spells in the sequence). This is a very important distinction because it means you cannot use a reset timer to account for cooldown.

As to the other conditions, "target" resets the sequence when you change targets; "combat" when you leave combat; "shift", "alt", and "ctrl" when you activate the macro with one of those keys depressed. You can specify any number of these conditions separated by slashes as shown.

Example:

/castsequence reset=10/shift Spell 1, Other Spell, Some Item

To make a macro cycle through two different 'sets' of spells that should be used together, where each set can not be used at the same time (i.e trinkets with shared cooldowns) it is possible to use multiple instances of /castsequence to achieve this effect.

Example:

/castsequence Berserking, Icy Veins
/castsequence Trinket 1, Trinket 2

On the first button push this macro will cast Beserking and Trinket 1, on the second it will cast Icy Veins and Trinket 2.

If you used the question mark icon, WoW will automatically update the icon to the current element of the sequence. If you have other /casts or /uses (or complex conditionals) before the /castsequence, though, WoW will sometimes not be able to figure out which icon to use. In this case, you can specify the icon using #showtooltip as described above

Random spells and items

One of the most common requests on this forum is for a macro to use a random mount. This is extremely trivial thanks to the addition of /castrandom and /userandom. Like /castsequence, /castrandom and /userandom takes a list of spells and/or items separated by commas and picks one at random when you run the command. Example:

/castrandom Swift Green Mechanostrider, Black Battlestrider, Summon Dreadsteed 

Attacking

Change your target to unit and start auto-attacking.

/startattack Cogwheel

Stop auto-attacking.

/stopattack

Action bar manipulation

There are two commands that allow you to change action bar pages: /changeactionbar and /swapactionbar. /changeactionbar takes a single number and will always switch to that page. One use of this is for hunters to emulate stances by having a pair of macros like:

/cast Aspect of the Hawk
/changeactionbar 1

and

/cast Aspect of the Monkey
/changeactionbar 2

/swapactionbar takes two page numbers and will swap between them each time it runs. If you're on a page other than one of the two specified, it will be change to the first of the two.

/swapactionbar 1 2

Removing buffs

The /cancelaura command allows you to remove unwanted buffs. For example, a Death Knight without the Horn of Winter minor glyph cannot cast Horn of Winter if a glyphed version of the buff is already on them (from another Death Knight). The following macro solves this problem:

/cancelaura Horn of Winter
/cast Horn of Winter

Leaving a form

With the exception of Warriors, any class with stances (Druids, Priests with [Shadowform], Rogues with [Stealth], etc.) can use /cancelform to leave their current form. Example:

/cancelform
/use Super Healing Potion

In patch 2.3, /cancelform will be recognized instantly for Druids. Until then and for everyone else, you may have to click the button twice.

Stopping a cast

/stopcasting was touched on briefly in other contexts but its main use, as you might guess, is used to stop another spell cast that's in progress. This is useful for making "panic buttons" that interrupt whatever you're doing at the moment in favor of something more important. On a Warlock, for instance, the following macro can be used:

/stopcasting
/cast Shadowburn

Halting a macro early

/stopmacro is one of those commands that doesn't really come into its own unless you use it with macro options. Its main use is to implement "fall-through" logic to prevent you from continuing a macro if certain conditions are true. See "Using focus" at the end of part II for an example.

Dismounting

/dismount

Basically self-explanatory.

Saving a target for later action

The /focus command allows you to save a target to come back to later. For example, say your raid leader assigns you a target to sheep. First, select that mob, and type /focus. Now you can use a macro like the following to cast sheep on your focus:

/cast [@focus] Polymorph

Note that this is not the most efficient use of the focus feature. See "Using Focus" towards the end of Part II for a much more in-depth look at this mechanic.

Simulating button clicks

The /click command takes the name of a button and acts like you clicked the button with your mouse. By default, it behaves like a left-click, but you can specify other mouse buttons in the command. There are a few ways to determine the name of the frame you're interested in:

  • You can use an addon. Some addons, including MoveAnything, give you a way to see the name of the frame underneath your mouse.
  • You can look through the UI code for the frame. This is really only applicable to people who are comfortable with addon programming.
  • You can bind the following macro by a key and then run it while your mouse over the frame in question:
/run local f = GetMouseFocus(); if f then DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage(f:GetName()) end

/click can be used for many different purposes. You can chain together multiple macros by /click'ing buttons with other macros on them. For example, you might have a really long macro that doesn't fit into 255 characters. Put as much of it as you can in one macro and end it with the following line:

/click MultiBarRightButton1

The rest of the code would go into a new macro that you would then place on MultiBarRightButton1 (the first button of the right-hand vertical extra action bar).

You can also do things that normally wouldn't be available to macros. For instance, turning on auto-cast for a pet spell can't be done by Lua scripts and there isn't a secure command for it (until the next patch, at least). However, you can write a macro to pretend that you right-clicked on one of your pet bar buttons:

/click PetActionButton5 RightButton

This command will act like you right-clicked the 5th pet button from the left. The extra button parameter can also be LeftButton (the default), MiddleButton, Button4, or Button5.

On top of these uses, there are some more complex examples of /click branching towards the end of Part II.

Action bar button names

As shown above, MultiBarRightButton1 refers to the first button of the right-hand vertical extra action bar. MultiBarRightButton2 refers to the second button, and so on. Names for buttons on each of the standard action bars are as follows, replacing the # with an appropriate number:

ActionButton#                Main Bar*
BonusActionButton#           Dynamic bar that switches actions based on Druid Forms, Warrior Stances, and Rogue Stealth*
MultiBarBottomLeftButton#    Bottom Left Bar
MultiBarBottomRightButton#   Bottom Right Bar
MultiBarRightButton#         Right Bar
MultiBarLeftButton#          Right Bar 2 (to the left of "Right Bar")
PetActionButton#             Pet Bar
ShapeshiftButton#            Druid Forms, Paladin Auras, Warrior Stances, Death Knight Presences, Rogue Stealth

* The BonusActionBarFrame frame replaces the ActionBarFrame frame for all Druids, Warriors, and Rogues and /click ActionButton# and /click BonusActionButton# do the same thing for these classes.

Advanced Scripting

What scripts can't do

Scripts are very powerful tools that can make complex decisions based on a number of criteria. Because of this power, Blizzard has limited the types of things we're allowed to do with them in order to keep macros and addons from taking actions that should be controlled by the player. I'm starting this section with what you can't do because I don't want you to get your hopes up. While scripts do remain useful for quite a few purposes, you cannot use them to cast spells, use items, change your action bar page or affect your target in any way. You are limited to using the "secure" commands already shown for those tasks.

Scripting

The WoW UI is controlled by code written with the Lua scripting language. You can take advantage of this scripting system in a macro with the /run command (equivalent to /script--I use /run to save a few characters). The whole script must be on one line, though you can have multiple /run commands in a single macro.

A full treatment of Lua and programming in general is well beyond the scope of this document. However, if you have some programming experience, you should head over to Lua.org to learn the basics of Lua and if you don't have any programming experience, you may want to check out LearnToProgram to get a foundation of the concepts used in scripts.

Blizzard provides many functions (called the API) which the Lua scripts can use to control the UI. You can view the API and other features of the UI system over at Interface Customization (if you spend any considerable time with scripts and/or addons, Wowpedia will be indispensable). I can't possibly cover all the details of the UI environment, so I will simply present you with one of my favorite scripts as an example. See the previously linked references and the Mod Author Resources sticky for more information.

The following macro (on which I based my CCWarn addon) will whisper everyone in your raid to change their targets if they have the same target as you. This is to help keep them from breaking the sheep that this macro casts as well.

/cast Polymorph
/run for i=1,GetNumRaidMembers()-1 do local u,t="raid"..i,"target"if UnitIsUnit(u..t,t)then SendChatMessage("Change targets! Trying to sheep...","WHISPER",nil,UnitName(u))end end

There are two reasons that it looks as obfuscated as that. First, there is the 255 character limit (though there is a workaround in Part III); you often need to take certain shortcuts in order to get a script to fit in a macro. Second, you have to keep the entire script on one line. Under more ideal circumstances, that code would look more like:

for i = 1, GetNumRaidMembers() - 1 do
    local unit = "raid"..i
    if UnitIsUnit(unit.."target", "target") then
        SendChatMessage("Change targets! Trying to sheep...", "WHISPER", nil, UnitName(unit))
    end
end

Macro conditions

Macro conditions are a way to control actions based on various pieces of information. To dive right into an example, the following macro will cast Renew on a friendly target and Shadow Word: Pain on a hostile one.

/cast [help] Renew; [harm] Shadow Word: Pain

When you run this macro, the [help] condition is checked. This determines whether your target is someone you can cast beneficial spells on. If the [help] is true, it then casts Renew and the macro moves to the next line. Otherwise (either you have no target, or you can't cast a helpful spell on your target), it falls through to the next clause. Now it checks for the [harm] condition. [harm] is just like [help] but for offensive spells. If true, it casts Shadow Word: Pain. If it isn't true (no target or you can't harm your target) then it does nothing because there are no more clauses.

Note: I could have left the [harm] check out and it would have functioned in much the same way. However, if you have no target or your target can be neither helped nor harmed, you would receive an error message or, depending on the spell, the target selector cursor.

The macro will now search for the selected target. If the target is [help] than it will use it's helpful spell. If the target is [harm] than it will use it's harmful spell. But nothing will happen when you haven't selected any target. Not even when you have "Selfcast" enabled in the interface options. but with the following macro it will use selfcast when nothing is selected.

#showtooltip
/cast [help] Healing Touch; [harm] Wrath; [@player] Healing Touch

Commands that accept conditions

Only the "secure" commands respond to macro conditions. In fact, the secure commands are the reason macro conditions were created in the first place. Insecure commands like chatting, emotes, etc. can be scripted using Lua and the /run command. Furthermore, Blizzard didn't want to confuse people who use semicolons in their chat messages. If /say could use macro conditions, the following would always just say "Hello":

/say Hello; I'm a n00b

The following is a list of all the secure commands currently available in WoW:

  • #show *
  • #showtooltip *
  • /assist
  • /cancelaura
  • /cancelform
  • /cast
  • /castrandom
  • /castsequence
  • /changeactionbar
  • /clearfocus
  • /cleartarget
  • /click
  • /dismount
  • /equip +
  • /equipslot +
  • /equipset +
  • /focus
  • /petassist
  • /petattack
  • /petautocastoff
  • /petautocaston
  • /petdefensive
  • /petfollow
  • /petpassive
  • /petstay
  • /startattack
  • /stopattack
  • /stopcasting
  • /stopmacro
  • /swapactionbar
  • /target
  • /targetexact
  • /targetenemy
  • /targetfriend
  • /targetfriendplayer
  • /targetenemyplayer
  • /targetlasttarget
  • /targetlastfriend
  • /targetlastenemy
  • /targetparty
  • /targetraid
  • /use
  • /usetalents +
  • /userandom

* #show and #showtooltip are not technically secure commands, but they operate with macro conditions just like /use and /cast.

+ /equip, /equipslot, /equipset and /usetalents are not technically secure since their functionality is available to addons and macro scripts.

If you would like a way to use macro options for insecure commands, there are addons that provide such capability. My addon, MacroTalk, adds a number of /opt___ commands for each chat command and a generic /opt command that lets you use options to choose other full (insecure) slash commands. I believe the newest SuperMacro provides this functionality as well. Macro Broker provides this as well through a new command, /eval.

Syntax overview

There can be an awful lot of confusion around how macro options work, so I will take this early opportunity to break down the general concepts behind them. I will be providing some real-world examples using actual options. Don't worry too much if you don't understand what they mean. All options will be covered in detail later on.

General options syntax

All slash commands basically work the same way. You have a command, and a set of parameters. The parameters depend on the command, and some commands don't take any. Here are a few examples:

/cast Smite
\___/ \___/
  |     |
  |  parameters
  |
command


/petattack
\________/ V
    |      |
    |  parameters (empty)
    |
command


/castsequence reset=target Immolate, Corruption, Curse of Agony, Siphon Life
\___________/ \____________________________________________________________/
      |                                    |
   command                            parameters

Macro options allow you to choose a set of parameters based on a number of criteria. At the highest level, you have a set of criteria/parameter groups separated by semicolons. The semicolons can be seen as an "else" or an "else if." The criteria consist of zero or more sets of conditions. Each condition set is enclosed with square brackets. Here is an illustration of this basic syntax.

/command [conditions] [more conditions] parameters; [conditions] parameters ...

As you saw in the basic examples above, the command is evaluated from left to right. As soon as it finds a set of conditions that are true, it runs the command with the corresponding parameters. If there are no conditions in a clause, it will always be true. In fact, you can imagine a single-spell /cast command as a macro option with one clause that has no conditions. When the command does not have any conditions that are true, it will not execute at all.

Condition syntax

Each set of conditions is a simple comma-separated list. They can appear in any order, though [@unit] is always taken into account first, before any of the conditionals. Think of the comma as an "and." A condition like [help, nodead, @focus] means "My focus is friendly AND not dead."

Notice: Conditions are case-sensitive. If you use [Help] instead of [help], the macro will generate an error. However, this does not necessarily include the condition's parameters (described below). Still, it's usually better to consistently capitalize as things appear. Write spells and items just like you see in their tooltips. Follow the examples in this guide precisely.

Conditions themselves have a few building blocks. First off, as you just saw with "nodead", you can put "no" in front of a condition to mean the opposite. Notice that [nohelp] does not mean the same thing as [harm]. [harm] and [help] both return true only if there is a target to begin with. Furthermore, there are some targets that can neither be helped nor harmed (unflagged players of the other faction, non-combat pets, escort quests, etc.).

Some conditions also take their own sets of parameters. For example, [stance] by itself means "In any stance" (useful for every class with stances except Warriors since they are always in a stance). However, you can also specify one or more particular stances to check. The set of parameters begins with a colon (:) and each parameter is separated with a slash (/) that means "or." Here's a generic illustration of the syntax of a single condition where everything inside angle brackets (<>) is optional.

[<no>condition<:parameter</parameter</parameter<...>>>>]

Here's a simple example that uses Shield Bash in Defensive or Battle Stance, but switches into Defensive Stance if you're in Berserker:

/cast [stance:1/2] Shield Bash; Defensive Stance

This can be simplified to pseudo-code English as "IF currently in stance 1 OR in stance 2 then use Shield Bash ELSE switch to Defensive Stance.

Note: "no" applies to the whole condition and all of its parameters. This means that [nostance:1/2] would mean "anything but stances 1 or 2"

Complete EBNF syntax

For those who are familiar with EBNF notation, the entire macro option syntax can be represented as follows:

command = "/", command-verb, [ {command-object, ";" } command-object] ]
command-verb = ? any secure command word ?
command-object = { condition } parameters
parameters = ? anything which may be passed to the command word ?
condition = "[" condition-phrase { "," condition-phrase } "]"
condition-phrase = ([ "no" ], option-word, [ ":" option-argument { "/" option-argument } ]
                   | "@", target)
option-argument = ? any one-word option, such as 'shift, 'ctrl', 'target', '1', '2' ?
target = ? a target pattern ?

Empty parameters

One source of confusion comes in dealing with parameterless commands. A very common error when writing macros is to add an extra semicolon to the end, but this creates some unexpected bugs. Take the following macro:

/petattack [@focus, harm];

To the uninitiated, that looks like it'll send your pet after your focus if it's harmful, and do nothing otherwise. However, let's look at a breakdown of this macro:

/petattack [@focus, harm]  ;
\________/ \____________/ V V V
    |               |     | | |
 command         options  | | parameters (empty)
                          | |
                          | options (empty)
                          |
                          parameters (empty)

See that extra blank set of options and parameters? Remember that a blank set of options always evaluates to true, so that second empty parameter gets passed to /petattack if the first conditions are false.

Empty conditions

Sometimes you may want a command to cast on a particular target under certain circumstances but behave like normal if those conditions aren't true. In this case you will want to use an empty set of conditions which will always evaluate to true. The following macro will cast Flash of Light on the unit under your mouse. If you have no mouseover or it's hostile, the macro will behave like a plain /cast Flash of Light, casting on your target and respecting self-cast key and auto-self-cast interface option.

/cast [@mouseover, help] [ ] Flash of Light

[target=] or [@] versus unit parameters

Some commands accept units directly as their parameters. For example, /target party1 will target your first party member. The command /target [@party1] while a bit more verbose has the equivalent behavior. However, in most cases the designers don't want us to be able to test conditions on one unit and then act on another, so you must use one or the other. E.g., a macro like the following will not work as expected:

/target [@focus, dead] party1

WoW will ignore party1 because you set a unit with the [@] targeting option. There are some specific exceptions to this rule. A few commands have "key units" that are fundamental to the command. If you use that unit in your [@] option, WoW will allow you to specify another unit or will use the default unit for the command if you don't specify one. That last bit needs a concrete example:

/focus [@focus, dead] [@focus, noharm] target

In this case, the key unit is focus. Since we are using [@focus], WoW will send "focus" to the /focus command. We could also have left off the "target" at the end since the /focus command defaults to your target. Below is a list of all commands with key units, and their default units if any. To reiterate for clarity, the key unit is a unit you can use in [@] option that will allow you to send another unit to the command. The Default Unit is the unit that will be sent to the command if you don't provide one.

 Command      | Key Unit  | Default Unit
 ------------- ----------- -------------
 /target      | target    |
 /focus       | focus     | target
 /startattack | target    | target
 /petattack   | pettarget | target

Conditionals

Main article: Macro conditionals

Toggleable abilities

As of patch 2.3.2, the cast command toggles abilities on and off. From the official patchnotes:

/cast will toggle spells again unless the name is prefixed with an exclamation mark, e.g. /castsequence Steady Shot, !Auto Shot

Examples of such toggleable abilities are Stealth, Shoot or Mass Dispel (the green targeting circle). If you want to spam such a macro without toggling the ability immediately off, prefix its name with an exclamation mark.

/cast !Stealth
/cast !Mass Dispel
/cast !Shoot

Macro option applications

Many of the commands introduced in Part I don't really come into their own until you add macro options to the mix. You've seen a few simple examples recently, but there's still a bit more to cover. The next couple sections will tie up these loose ends and hopefully give you some inspiration to start you on your way.

Using Focus

Focus is a unit ID like target, player, or raidpet1target. It allows you to reference a mob, player, or NPC you specify. The simplest usage of focus is with key bindings. There are two focus-related functions in the bindings menu: Focus Target, and Target Focus. Focus Target sets your focus to whatever you are currently targeting (it will clear your focus if you have nothing targeted). Once you have a focus set, you can use it as a unit ID for any other command. Target Focus will, as you might guess, target the entity you have focused. However, these bindings don't really take full advantage of focus. In order to get the most bang for your buck, you will need to use macros with macro options.

One of the most common uses is to set a crowd control target. A mage can select a mob to sheep and set it as their focus. Now they can change targets for DPS and use the following macro whenever they need to re-sheep.

/cast [@focus] Polymorph

Or maybe a healer could set their focus to the main tank. Using the game's focus unitframe, they would then have a frame devoted to their main tank that they could easily use for healing.

In addition to the key bindings, there are also the /focus and /clearfocus slash commands. Without any parameters, /focus works exactly like the key binding, setting your current target as your focus. You can also specify any valid unit ID (see Targeting above) or name as a parameter to /focus:

/focus party3target

Here is an example of more advanced focusing:

/focus [@focus, noharm] [@focus, dead] [modifier]
/stopmacro [@focus, noexists]
/cast [@focus] Polymorph

The first line sets your focus to your current target (or clears your focus if you don't have a target) in one of the following situations:

  • You don't have a harmful focus (either it's friendly or doesn't exist)
  • Your current focus is dead
  • You are holding down a modifier key (in case you want to change your focus after you already have a valid one)

The second line keeps the macro from proceeding if you don't have a focus. Finally, it casts Polymorph on your focus. This gives you a one-button solution for your crowd control with focus. You may notice that we could have used an exists condition in the /cast command instead of a separate /stopmacro command. However, /stopmacro affords us a bit more flexibility by stoping any other commands we may add to the macro later (like a warning in /p).

It's possible to swap your target and your focus, giving you in effect two targets you can toggle between:

/cleartarget [@target, dead]
/clearfocus [@focus, dead]
/target focus
/cleartarget [@focus, noexists]
/targetlasttarget
/focus target
/targetlasttarget

The first two lines clear the target and/or focus if they are dead (if you really want to keep track of multiple dead targets, e.g. to resurrect or loot them, then delete those lines). The fourth is needed because /target focus doesn't clear your target if you have no current focus (without it, the fifth line would then retrieve your previous target).

Macro Branching with /click

Say you want a button that chooses between three different spells based on shift, ctrl, or no modifier and two different targets depending on left or right click. This can be done all in one like the following:

/cast [mod:shift, button:2, @player] [mod:shift, @party1] Greater Heal; [mod:ctrl, button:2, @player] [mod:ctrl, @party1] Flash Heal; [nomod, button:2, @player] [nomod, @party1] Renew

That's quite an unwieldy bit of script there. We can split it onto multiple lines for clarity and remove some redundancies to save room but it's still a bit of a beast:

/cast [mod:shift, button:1, @party1] [mod:shift, @player] Greater Heal
/cast [mod:ctrl, button:1, @party1] [mod:ctrl, @player] Flash Heal
/cast [button:1, @party1] [@player] Renew 

However, by using one master macro to choose the target based on mouse button and two macros to choose the spells based on modifier key, we can make it much easier to follow. For the sake of these examples, macros 2 and 3 are on MultiBarLeftButton2 and MultiBarLeftButton3, respectively.

Macro 1:

/click [button:1] MultiBarLeftButton2; MultiBarLeftButton3

Macro 2:

/cast [mod:shift, @party1] Greater Heal; [mod:ctrl, @party1] Flash Heal; [@party1] Renew

Macro 3:

/cast [mod:shift, @player] Greater Heal; [mod:ctrl, @player] Flash Heal; [@player] Renew

Custom icons

If you would like to use custom icons for your macros, you can place them in your World of Warcraft\Interface\Icons folder (creating this folder if it doesn't exist). The files must follow the same guidelines for UI textures. Namely, they must be either BLP files or 24-bit/32-bit alpha uncompressed TGA files. Their dimensions must be powers of two up to 512 (e.g. 32x32, 512x128). Note: any images that aren't square will look squished on your action bar.

Keeping macros on multiple computers

As of Patch 3.0.2, macros are now kept 'server-side', so there is "...no longer a need to reconfigure them when logging in using another computer."

External links