World of Warcraft has built-in functionality that allows developers/programmers to improve the game experience by expanding upon the current interface. In many cases, these addons can prove to be essential to your success in the game by making tasks easier and allowing you to keep up with a wealth of information that you normally wouldn't be able to track. Despite this fact, I continually find more and more people in World of Warcraft that have never even heard of addons or think that they are a waste of time. After installing the addon, their attitudes change to something along the lines of "How did I ever live without this?" Therein lies the one danger in installing WoW addons, you may get addicted, and thus when playing WoW on another computer that doesn't have your addons, feel handicapped.
Installing a WoW addon isn't a difficult task, but to someone that doesn't know much about computers, it can prove to be quite frustrating. There are many things you need to know and I will do my best to go over them here. I am not a developer of addons (because there is an addon already for almost anything you can think of), but I do know a lot about how they work. Let's get started by listing two of the most popular sites to get addons:
WorldofWar.net -- This is one of the biggest sites for addons.
Let's start out by installing Titan Panel, one of the addons I don't think I could live without. It provides a wealth of in-game information in the form of two small bars along the bottom and top of your screen. Titan panel is in fact so popular, that it has plugins of it's own to provide more information to you on those bars. Download Titan Panel. You will need a zip program to install this file. I use ZipGenius.
The next step is to create your addons folder. World of Warcraft does not create this folder by default(although some recent patches may do it for you), so you may have to add it.
- Click Start and go to My Computer.
- From there, you want to click on Local Disk C: (on most computers)
- Then find Program Files, then find the World of Warcraft folder
- In this folder you should have a Interface folder (if not, create it)
- Double-click the Interface folder. Look for the Addons folder, not there? Fine, just right-click and select New then Folder. Name the folder Addons.
Your now ready to install your addons. If you downloaded Titan Panel, take the zip file and place it in the addons folder. A simple cut and paste should do the trick. You will then want to unzip in this directory or "Extract here" or however your zip program labels it. You should see a folder named "Titan" in your addons folder at this point.
Ok, it's time to get in game. Double-click World of Warcraft and login. You should now be at the character screen. In the lower left-hand of the screen, you will see a button called "Addons". Click this button. You should see a screen that lists Titan Panel. Make sure it is checked. You have just installed your first addon. I won't get into the specifics of Titan Panel itself, but if you left click on the Titan Panel bar in game, you'll find a lot of different options for customizing the addon.
Some things you should know about keeping WoW addons up-to-date:
First, most addons have to be kept up-to-date or it will cause errors in game, fake lag, and other problems. If your having any of these kinds of problems, the first thing to do is to disable all addons (by unchecking them) to see if that fixes the problem. After that, you can enable one at a time and get in game to see if you see the same problems to try to narrow down which one it is. An updated addon will not usually cause any problems in game.
Second, the most updated version is not necessarily at the web sites I have listed. Sometimes, the developer will move the download to his own site, but most likely, you will find a link somewhere in the comments or description of the addon at the sites above. This is true for a addon that I love to use called Monkey Quest, which is located at: http://www.toctastic.net/ at the bottom of the page.
Keep your addons up-to-date or it could cause problems in game. Addons, by design, cannot do permanent damage to World of Warcraft, but can get you really mad when your character freezes in the middle of a fight. If you would like to make sure you avoid most of these problems, a simple option built into World of Warcraft will save you some headache. In the addons screen there is a box to check/uncheck called "Load out-of-date addons", just don't check this, and you should be fine. If an addon that you have downloaded is out-of-date, World of Warcraft will automatically not enable it, so you have to go in manually to do it.
A note about addon packs: One of the easiest ways to keep up with all the latest addons and at the same time find some of the best on the internet is to download a pack. One that is very popular is called Cosmos. Cosmos will add several addons to World of Warcraf automatically and even comes with a application that automatically updates the addons when needed. It's a huge program, and I won't get into the specifics of of configuring it here, but you can find out more at CosmosUI.org. Cosmos can be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you just look at it addon by addon, disabling what you don't need, and configuring what you do, it can really be a big time saver.
Here is a screenshot of my screen with several Cosmos addons, Titan Panel, Monkey Pack, and some others.
I hope this guide has gotten you well on your way to installing a WoW addon. The next part in this series is 5 WoW addons you can't live without. Check it out.