(Mar 30) Macros 101

06 Apr
Alright, I have been promising an article on World of Warcraft macros for a while now, so I am going to take the short amount of time I have available to me today during my break time to talk about the basics.
Macros can be used for a wide variety of things ranging from ability usage, to profession advertising, to chat announcements, and tracking mats that you are farming. Macros does not technically have to refer to a macro though as scripts are also handled in the same screen and via the same methods. There are differences between the two, but those can wait for later. In this particular article I am not going to cover the ability and spellcasting macros as they are much more involved and will take more time than I have.
Accessing Macros
If you are going to work with macros, then you probably need to know where you can find them. The simplest method is to open up your options menu in the game by hitting the ESC key and then clicking on the button that says “Macros”. I am a fan of using the keyboard more so than the mouse, so I used to access the menu by typing /macro into the chat window and then pressing enter. Either method works and you can use whatever method works best for you.
Being the macro junky that I am, I actually have a macro that does nothing more than /macro and then I bind that onto my right action bar so that I can access them with a single click. It only saves me a single click or a half-second of typing, but since I use it all the time it all adds up in the end.
Names and Icons
Each macro can have a single name and a single icon associated with it. One partial exception to this rule is the very first icon in the list that looks like a red question mark. This particular icon is able to change and look like any other icon in the game based off of what you have the macro doing. The details of that are a little more advanced, so I will save most of it for later. For now though, lets just say that I use the question mark icon for everything except for chat macros.
Chat Macros
Chat macros are the second-most commonly asked about macros that I see, following closely behind ability macros which I will get into momentarily. Chat macros are usually used for things that you say frequently that could potentially be viewed as spam, or it could be used for alerts and warnings to your party or raid. They use the same general rules as regular chat options in the game such as /g for guild chat, /r for replies, /2 for trade chat, /p for party chat, and so on.
One of the macros that initially caused a surge in people asking about macros was a congratulatory macro we used for congratulating people in guild chat for things they accomplished, whether it be a ding (gaining a level), an achievement, or finding a good piece of gear they were looking for. They come in all shapes and sizes and I do not have a copy now of the one that we originally used, but it was set up to make a picture out of letters, numbers, and symbols. To give you some example of what a G-Grats macro might look like:
/g **************************
/g **                      **
/g **                      **
/g **************************
Using this macro would cause everything above (except for the “/g”) to be printed in your guild chat. Since the macro would issue all of the individual commands to speak that macro at once, they would all appear together where if you tried to type them individually you may have someone else type a message that might interfere with your pretty little portrait there. Now, if you use something like this all the time, it may get annoying to your guild mates, but every guild is different so just follow the rules of your guild.
Here is another example of a macro that I use on occasion, though as you will see, it does not get used very frequently:
/y Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear %t!!!
/y Happy Birthday to you!
This one uses what we of the programming community refer to as a wildcard, which is the %t. Using %t means that it will take the name of your current Target, and use that in its place. So if I had my mage targeted when I clicked this macro then it would yell (the /y means to yell) “Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Psynister!!! Happy Birthday to you!” so that everyone in the area could hear it.  As I said, I do not use this one very often, and the one particular use in Dalaran had about 5 different people ready to kill me even though I only used it once. So /y is not always the best method to use, but in this case I really did not care as someone’s birthday is worthy of celebration regardless of the haters.
To throw one more quick example out there of a chat macro, I often times find that I need to do some spamming of chat for one reason or another. Sometimes I use it when I want to buy or sell a certain item, or sometimes I need to fill an open slot in a raid, or I want to join a raid myself. When doing this you have a few options; you can either retype what you want to say each time, you can open the chat window and then use ALT + Arrow Up/Down to scroll through what you have recently said, or you can make a macro for it. Following are some examples of this:
/2 LF Blacksmith 350+, pst w/ link
/4 DPS LFG – 10 man Vault
/1 Offering free runs through SM: Cath for any lv 20+, pst for invite
Basically anything that you want to “spam” in the chat channels can be done here, and it can be done in any of the channels that you are in. It can also be done in multiple channels if you wish by just changing the number after the ‘/’ and adding multiple lines. Generally if someone can see one of the channels you are broadcasting in, then they can see the others as well. I generally only suggest using multiple chat channels when doing a search for group with maybe a macro that targets both the LookingForGroup channel (typically /4), and the General (/1) or Trade (/2) channel as well. If you use other combinations such as both Local (/1) and Trade (/2) then you basically are spamming because everyone who can see Trade can also see General if they are in your area, so those people are seeing your message multiple times for each click, and for no reason.
Gathering Macros
This particular set of macros have varying uses, and their functionality can easily be replaced by addons if you wish, or you can keep some of your system resources free and just use macros instead. I am going to discuss here two particular aspects of gathering macros, one being to toggle your minimap find feature, and the other to track how many of a specific item you have for when doing things such as farming a specific material.
While many people suggest you never take both Mining and Herbalism on a single character, there is nothing wrong with doing so if you have the patience to hit this macro while you travel. For this macro, I would suggest you use the question mark icon to know which Find skill you will use if you activate the macro.
/castsequence Find Minerals, Find Herbs
The first line in this macro changes the information that will be displayed when you move your mouse over the macro icon, and will also change the picture of the icon to match whichever Find skill will be used if you click it. If you have not activated the macro at all yet, it will show the Find Minerals (mining) icon and tell you the information for that skill if you put your mouse over it. Once you click the macro it will move on to the next skill in sequence, which happens to be Find Herbs (herbalism) and will change the tool tip information accordingly. Since there are no other spells in the sequence, the icon would then change back to Find Minerals if you were to click it again, and it will continue to cycle indefinitely for as many times as you activate it.
If you have other tracking abilities like the Hunter and Paladin do, you can also put those in a similar macro or even combine them into the same one. Just make sure that you always use the full name of the spell or ability that you wish to use or your macro will not work correctly. Example:
/castsequence Find Minerals, Detect Undead, Find Herbs, Detect Undead
The example above with first search for mining nodes, then for undead, then for herbalism spawns, and then for undead again before looping back to mining. I rarely search for undead myself, but you can take the idea here and apply it however you wish.
To expand just a bit more on macros, with further details coming in a later post, you can also be more specific with a gathering macro like this for when you have multiple find options available to you.
/cast [modifier:alt] Find Minerals; [modifier:shift] Find Herbs; Track Humanoids
This macro will act similar to the one above except that rather than moving through the abilities in a sequence, one after the other, this one uses the ability that you specify based on which buttons you press while activating the macro. By default (i.e. no other keys pressed) this macro will activate Track Humanoids for the hunter using it. If you hold the ALT key while you click on the macro, then it will change to Find Minerals. Likewise, if you hold the SHIFT key while clicking the macro, it will cast Find Herbs instead. There are a few differences in this macro compared to the last one that you need to take note of if you plan on using it. First, this one uses /cast instead of /castsequence. This is done because we are using the modifier keys to select specific tracking skills rather than doing them in sequential order. Second, the comas that separate skills in the /castsequence macro have been replaced with semi-colons to designate which modifiers apply to which skills.
Another little tidbit of information on the above macro is that by using the #showtooltip code at the top along with the question mark icon, as soon as you press one of those modifier keys (alt or shift) it will change the icon to the appropriate ability so that you know which skill you are about to activate if you click on the icon.
When you want to track how many of a particular material you have in your bags, you will do something like the following, again with the question mark icon:
#showtooltip Frostweave Cloth
One line of code is all you need to make that happen. When you want to track something different, just replace the “Frostweave Cloth” with any other item you want. The first thing this will do is replace the macro icon with the icon for the item you wish to track. Secondly it will place the total number you have in your bags into the corner of the icon so that you can track it similar to what you see when you have a stack of potions or other stackable items in your bags. And finally, it will use the items tool tip information when you place your mouse over the icon as it would with the item itself. You can only view a single item at a time with this macro, but you can make multiple copies of the macro if you wish to track more items.
Now, I know that I did not go into great detail on much of anything up there, but I wanted to give you something to chew on for now before I go into greater detail in the next article. The next one will be on casting spells themselves for both combat abilities as well as buffs. There will be a greater degree of detail in those due to the nature of those macros and the importance of you knowing what they will do when you are using them in combat.
If you have any specific macros that you would like to see, feel free to leave me a reply here and I will do my best to cover it in future articles. Feel free to email me any specific requests as well if you would like me to respond with a possible solution in a shorter amount of time.
That’s it for this break. Until next time.
1 Comment

Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Macro



One response to “(Mar 30) Macros 101

  1. Psynister

    April 20, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    This particular post was a bit rushed as I did it while I was at work in between calls.

    Looking at it again I can see that this could definitely use some help. I will have a follow up post with more detail and discussion as I have the time to do a more defined outline on it and make sure all bases are covered.


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