Much love for mouseover macros

After getting annoyed with 40+ minute DPS queues, I've begun tanking on my 62 dwarf death knight. Aside from lamenting at my lack of higher-level abilities (WTB second taunt, sigh), I've been tinkering around with various ways to make my tanking more effective.

One of the methods I have used has been a Death Coil mouseover macro. Tinkering around with it made me realize just how often I use mouseover abilities, and a few people have found this blog by searching for hunter mouseover macros (probably because of this post) so I thought I'd blog about it and take a closer look at why I love them so much.

(Disclaimer: apparently you can replace target= with a single @. I assume it works, but I haven't needed to rework my macros since this change was implemented, so the following macros still use the old style.)

Simple and clean, mouseover macros let you use spells & abilities on a secondary target without switching from your current target. Simply hover your cursor over the secondary target (or its health bar), hit the macro, and done!

The basic mouseover macro format is this:
/action [target=mouseover, exists]

This is easily improved to be slightly more versatile; the following macro will cast Serpent Sting on your current mouseover target, and if you're not hovering over a valid target, will cast Serpent Sting on your actual selected target. Replace Serpent Sting with your ability of choice and you're good to go!

/cast [target=mouseover, exists, harm] Serpent Sting; Serpent Sting

So why bother? What's the big deal about switching targets for a second?

Mouseover commands don't make you attack the secondary target

Sometimes you will want to use an ability on a target without switching DPS to that target. Maybe I don't want to actually damage/aggro them, or maybe I want to maintain regular DPS on my primary target. Or maybe it's a friendly target, and selecting them to use the ability would mean momentarily stopping DPS. Mouseover actions take care of all these problems wonderfully.

A basic example of this is on Lady Deathwhisper, during the add phases. As a hunter, I position myself so I'm facing both Lady DW and the adds, and when I see Serpent Sting drop off Deathwhisper (I set her as my focus for this fight) I just mouseover her, hit the macro to reapply it, and continue burning down the adds without ever stopping my autoshots. I also mouseover Viper Sting the Cult Adherents for a bit of mana regen while burning down the adds.

Mouseover commands don't change your primary target

Personally, this has only been relevant while I've been tanking. When I DPS, I frequently use /assist [focus] (which is the tank) to make sure I'm attacking the right target. If the tank is constantly switching targets to generate aggro on other targets, it means that I'm frequently attacking the wrong enemy and possibly causing aggro havoc. If the tank uses mouseover attacks instead, his/her target never actually changes so there's no confusion about which is the "right" enemy for the DPS to be killing, and the tank is still able to build up aggro effectively on the other enemies.

Mouseover commands let you command pets independently of your own actions

There's a lot of things in WoW that temporarily incapacitate you, whether it's Marrowgar's bone spikes, getting web wrapped, or Svala's sacrificial altar. If you have your pet's attack command bound to a mouseover macro, you can just hover the cursor over a target and still send your pet to attack freely. I'll often use my pet to help free myself when I get spiked, webbed, etc, especially if everyone else is busy or far away. Another example would be the multiple frozen orbs Toravon spits out in 25-man VoA. I will usually target an orb and start DPSing it, while sending my pet after any orbs in melee range via mouseover macro.

The pet attack mouseover macro is as follows:
/petattack [target=mouseover, exists]

Mouseover commands are one-press, fire-and-forget actions

You press a mouseover macro once and then it's done. With traditional targeting, you have to click the target to select them and then press the action. This doesn't sound like much, but in a frantic fight when you're moving out of fire, watching bars, and reading a slew of DBM warnings flying across your screen, every bit of efficiency counts.


A bit of visual-spatial awareness goes a long way when using mouseover abilities on multiple targets. If you have 5 targets, it can be tough to remember which of the four secondary targets you already cast Serpent Sting on and which are un-stung. Plus, since you're not actually selecting them, you can't see their debuffs to confirm that the spell did actually go off. For tanks, it's the same with threat - you have to be able to micromanage in your head which secondary targets you already used Sunder Armor on, and which are still untouched, a single Blizzard tick away from ripping off after the mage.

Sometimes it's just too chaotic to properly use mouseover macros. In a mass group of bodies, it can also be almost impossible to tell whose form you're hovering over, and the enemy health bars may be whirling around the screen as the tank repositions them.


I love my mouseover macros, especially as a hunter with my pet to control, and my various ranged abilities to throw out on distant targets. I have Serpent Sting, Viper Sting, Scorpid Sting (might as well throw it on Muradin in the gunship battle, no point Serpenting him), Concussive Shot, Tranquilizing Shot, Distracting Shot, and Master's Call all bound to mouseover macros. My warrior tank would be completely lost without her Sunder Armor macro, and my death knight is really liking the convenience and speed of being able to damage/death grip loose mobs without taking his eyes off his actual target. If you've never tried them, I would suggest playing around with them a bit to see how they can streamline and fine-tune your game.

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  1. gravatar

    Mouseover macros tend to really shine in healing situations, though I do use them on focus targets a lot.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:10 PM

  2. gravatar

    An option over using "exists" is to use "harm." Harm innately checks for whether the target exists, while also making sure you aren't trying to fire at a friendly :) You can also throw in "nodead" if you want to give it more control.

    I use mouseover targeting for most of my feral tanking macros! ie,
    [@mouseover,harm,nodead,form:1] [form:1] Swipe (Bear)();

    April 24, 2010 at 8:13 AM