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Installing AddOns (Primer)

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Okay, so you've heard about the wizziest of all wizzy AddOns, and want to install it, but haven't ever used an AddOn before. The following is the general procedure to follow to download and install most AddOns, especially the (generally simpler, self-contained) ones that we will be discussing here in this forum.

Step 1: Locate and Download the AddOn
Once you know the name of the AddOn you're looking to install, you need to find and download it. The location you heard about the AddOn from (here, for example) may have a direct link to it on a download server or website where it is available. If you know the name of the AddOn but not where to get it, you can always do a Google search for it (try "+<name of AddOn> +AddOn" to get a concise search), or search on a website such as Curse-Gaming which hosts oodles and oodles of AddOns.

Once you've located the AddOn on a website, download it. Click its link and select "Save to Location" or "Save as..." or what-have-you, and select a location on your computer's hard drive that you'll remember for the later steps.

Step 2: Ensure you have an \Interface\AddOns\ folder to install to
Each AddOn is intended to be placed into a unique folder, named identically to the AddOn, on your hard drive. This folder should itself be placed within the /Interface/AddOns/ folder underneath your World of Warcraft game folder.

Ensure that you have an \Interface\AddOns\ folder to install to, located underneath your World of Warcraft game folder. If this is your first AddOn, you may need to create these \Interface\ and/or \AddOns\ folders.

By default, World of Warcraft will be installed to the C:\Program Files\World of Wacraft\ folder. If this is the case, you should ensure that you have a directory structure as follows:
    C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\AddOns\
If your copy of World of Warcraft is installed to a non-standard location, you will need to locate it and verify (or create) that the \Interface\AddOns\ folders are present in thie alternate location.

Step 3: Extract the AddOn
AddOns will almost always be compressed into a ZIP or RAR file for distribution. Extract the AddOn using an appropriate decompressing program, and place the resulting folder, named identically to the AddOn, into the folder mentioned in Step 2 above.

As an example, if you are installing CT_RaidAssist, the file you download will be called or something very similar, and will itself contain a compressed folder \CT_RaidAssist\. Once this compressed folder is extracted to the correct location, you will have a structure that looks like:
    C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\AddOns\CT_RaidAssist\<bunch of files>

Step 4: Enable the AddOn
Generally, the AddOn will be enabled as soon as you reload your GUI the next time after extracting it to the correct location. If you download and install the AddOn while playing, this can be accomplished from in-game by triggering a manual GUI reload. To do this, type "/console reloadui".

If you download and install an AddOn while not playing, then the next time you open up WoW and begin playing, your GUI will load the new AddOn.

If you find that an AddOn that has been installed correctly is not functioning even after triggering a GUI reload, it is possible that it might need to be enabled from the AddOn menu. This is a menu which is accessible from the Character Selection screen during startup. Once you have logged into the server and arrived at the Character Selection screen, look in the bottom left hand side for a button entitled "AddOns". Pressing this button will open up the AddOn menu. Ensure that the AddOn you want to use is displayed by name in this menu, and that its corresponding box is checked.

Generally, you will also want to de-select the checkbox at the top of this menu entitled "Check Version Compatibility". This option verifies that the "version number" associated with every AddOn you are using matches up with the current Blizzard-assigned version number of the copy of WoW you are running. Although this check is a safety precaution to ensure that AddOns which may be out-of-date are not allowed to negatively impact your WoW performance, in many cases ensuring that every AddOn you are using is always up-to-date and matching the current WoW number is more trouble than it is worth, requiring you re-download each AddOn you use every time Blizzard releases any new (even minor) WoW client patches.

Most of the time, an AddOn that has worked with WoW will continue to work with newer, patched versions of WoW. Exceptions to this are rare, but in such a case you need only download the latest, updated version of the AddOn in question from the AddOn's author, to get it working again.

Step 5: Use the AddOn
Now, all that is left is to put the AddOn into use. Different AddOns are controlled via the in-game GUI, via slash-commands ("/onyxia on" to turn on the CQOnyxia AddOn, for example), or some other mechanism. Details should be available from the thread which describes the AddOn and where to get it, from the location you download it from, from documentation or readme files packaged along with the AddOn, from your fellow players, etc.
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