The Macro Window
Now that we've established what a macro is, let's take a look at how to create one. That's the most straightforward way to illustrate some of the macro's basic attributes.
Macros have their own submenu in the Options window. Hit Escape or click the computer icon on the far right of your bottom main menu bar, and then click on the Macros button. The Create Macros window should appear. You can also type "/macro" or simply "/m" to bring up this window.
The window has two tabs, one for general macros and one for character-specific ones. You can have up to 18 general macros that can be accessed by any of your characters, whereas the 18 character-specific macros can only be used by one specific character. The character-specific macro slots are therefore best used for class- or race-specific ability macros. Macro slots can be overwritten at any time, so feel free to experiment with various macros. All macros are stored on your computer: keep this in mind if you play your account on multiple computers.
Under the slots is a window that displays the text of your current macro. A single macro can have up to 255 characters (including spaces) in its text field. A "Change Name/Icon" button is normally under this window, displayed next to the macro's icon. However, if you're creating your first macro, there isn't a "Change Name/Icon" button at the moment because there aren't any macros saved. Let's change that!
Your First Macro
First, select "New" to create a new macro. Another window will pop up with a field for the macro's name at the top. The name of the macro should be as short and descriptive as possible because its name will be displayed on the icon itself. The macro's name will be visually truncated on the icon if it's too long. Thus, abbreviations and acronyms are good candidates for a macro name. It's actually possible to display no name if you enter a blank space as the macro's name. For the purposes of this example, let's use "Greet."
Below the name field is a scrollable grid of available icons for the macro. Here are some general guidelines for picking an appropriate icon:
- The question mark icon found in the upper left slot automatically assigns an icon that corresponds to the first ability or spell in the macro. We'll go into more detail on this later. In general, this is a good default icon to pick, especially if you don't feel like poring over the huge list. You may find yourself creating a macro on the fly to adapt to whatever situation you're in, and so time may be of the essence!
- Pick an icon that is distinctive so that you will quickly identify and process what it does. An icon that reminds you of the macro's purpose helps for easy identification in the heat of combat. Even abstract connections can serve this purpose. For instance, if you're looking for an icon for the popular "Assist" macro, you could select an icon of a sword, a shield, or a humanoid figure - whatever helps you remember.
- If you pick an icon that matches another spell in your arsenal, the resulting overlap could lead to confusion. However, the macro will display its name in its icon so that you can still distinguish between your regular Pyroblast and your trinket/Arcane Power/Pyroblast macro.
Enter these commands on two separate lines:
/say Hello all!
After you're done typing these commands, you don't have to confirm or manually save: the macro is updated in real time. The next time you return to the Create Macros menu, the window will be as you left it, with the last selected macro and its text displayed.
Drag the icon down to an empty slot in your action bar. You should see the icon with its "Greet" name displayed. Again, this name would have been truncated if it had been too long to fit in the icon. The icon should remain a question mark, since there are no spells or abilities in the macro. That's just fine for now.
Now for the moment of truth: click the macro! You should see your character give a cheerful greeting to everyone in the area, or to the specific person you have targeted, both verbally and non-verbally. Woot!
Adding Other Commands
Next, let's try adding another command to our fledgling masterpiece. First, pick a commonly used non-aggressive ability for your character class, such as Stealth for rogues or Devotion Aura for paladins. Go back to your Macros window, and you should see your Greet macro still displayed as you left it.
Now, enter this new ability at the top of the command window so that it becomes the new first line of the macro:
"Stealth" should be replaced with whatever ability you picked, with spaces between words if the ability's name is more than one word: "Greater Heal," for example. Make sure the name is exactly as it appears in your spellbook, or it won't be recognized. If multiple ranks of the ability are available, the macro will automatically use the highest rank known by your character. When you're finished, close the macro window and look at your macro's icon in the action bar. If you selected the question mark icon, it should have automatically changed from a question mark to the appropriate icon for that ability!
Click the new macro, and watch as your character performs an action to go along with his or her greeting. Cool!
That's all for our introduction to macros. In the next update, we'll go into more depth on the types of macros you can create for spells and abilities, items, targeting, and communication.