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WoW Rookie: Keyboard shortcuts

Natalie Mootz

WoW Rookie is brought to our readers to help our newest players get acclimated to the game. Make sure you send a note to WoW Insider if you have suggestions for what new players need to know.

Accept this fact: to be good at playing WoW, you need to learn to use your keyboard at least some of the time. You don't have to bail on your mouse, but it's very helpful to learn some of the very basic keyboard shortcuts that will make your life in the game that much easier. (Easy is good, right?)

Using the game interface
There are hotkeys for almost everything you do in-game. You can find most of them by just hovering your mouse over the icons that you click -- as no doubt you may have already noticed. Let's start with the button bar that you use to bring up your Quest Log, Spellbook and other things. You'll see that when I hover my mouse over the gold cup icon, a tooltip pops up. The L in parentheses after "Quest Log" means you can just press your L key to bring up the log instead of clicking the icon. (Don't worry that it's a capital L, just press lower-case L. When a keyboard command is capitalized, it's written as "Shift-L".) After the break, you'll see a list of keyboard shortcuts for the game interface.



C Character panel
P Spell book
I Abilities
N Talents (for level 10+)
Pet spellbook
Shift-P Pet panel
Skills panel
L Quest log
O Social panel (tabs for Friends, Guild, Ignore, and eventually Raid)
B or F12
Your main backpack
F8, F9, F10, F11
Your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th bags
Shift-B All your bags at once
U Reputation panel
H Honor panel
M Map

Getting around
I'll confess that I only started learning the keyboard commands for character movement a short time ago. They are still not completely natural for me, but at level 70 when you mostly play PvP, you really NEED to be very fast. For many people, keyboard shortcuts are the best way to speed up your reaction times. A lesson from one who has gone before you: I really wish I had learned to use the movement keys before I hit 70. You have thus been warned.



W Move forward
S Move backward
D Turn right
A Turn left
Toggle walking or running
Num Lock Toggle continuous walking or running (you press it once, don't hold it down)
Spacebar Jump, you mad fool!

Now let's talk about strafing. Strafing means moving in one direction while looking or attacking in another direction. Strafing is an important WoW skill.



Q Strafe left
E Strafe right

Here's a video that will show you what strafing looks like if you can't picture it in your head.

How do you place your hand on the keyboard when you're using it for movement? A very good question, my friend.
  • If you took a keyboarding class (or typing class, old skool), your left pinky is on the A and your index finger is on the F. If you keep your hand here, it's going to feel really weird learning how to move with the keyboard because you'll be using your two weakest fingers most of the time.
  • If you shift your finger placement to the left one key -- so that the pinky is off the letters and your ring finger is now on the A, your index finger will be on the D. A little more comfortable, right? Some people will stop there, leaving their right hand for the occasional mouse action. (Feels like playing piano.)
  • Others prefer to move the left hand off the letters and use the right hand on the movement keys, which puts your right index finger on the A key. Then you use your left hand for mashing other keys you've bound, like the numbers or function keys.
  • You can also move your hand up a row, using teh QWE keys as your "home" row.
Right now, I'm using the setup I described in the second bullet point, but it still fights me sometimes because my mouse and key hands don't want to cooperate with each other. You'll need to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Targeting and combat
Even if you insist on using your mouse for movement, you need to learn to target monsters and friendlies with your keyboard because sometimes what you want to hit you can't even see to click with your mouse. Also, it's a good idea, especially in hairy instances, to all be pounding on the same monster at the same time, so you want to be able to quickly find out what your tank is hitting so that you can hit it too.



Tab Cycles through your enemies
F Target what your friend is hitting
V Show health bars over enemies (like the bear in the picture above)
T Attack nearest target
Cycles through allies (even if not in your group)
Shift-V Show health bars over allies
Shift-T Send your pet to attack

Here's a video showing you the difference between Tab and Ctrl-Tab.

If you're grouped with a party, you can also use the function keys to target members of your party. If you look on the left side of your screen, you'll see all the party members. From top to bottom, including yourself at the top, you can use F1, F2, F3, F4, and F5 to select one of your group members. (F1 is always you, even if you're not the party leader, because you're always at the top of the list.)

So now you can get around and kill things simply by using your keyboard! Of course, there is more keyboard goodness in the form of slash commands, macros and key bindings, but that's the topic for another lesson. Enjoy practicing your new keyboard skills and go get 'em!

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