So, you’ve been playing World of Warcraft and want to take it to the next level with addons. If it is your first time using addons, it may seem a little daunting. In this article, we’ll break down how to install WoW addons in 2021. These steps will work whether you are playing classic or retail.
Let’s jump in…
How to install WoW AddOns
You can install WoW addons by using an addon manager or by installing them yourself. Addon managers are easy to use and will install addons into the correct folder on your computer. They also help keep your addons up-to-date by allowing you to click to update. If you install yourself, you will download the files for the addon and place them into the correct folder. You will have to repeat this process every time you want to update addons as well.
In this article, we will walk over how to use both approaches. Since installing and maintaining addons is much easier with a manager, we will start there.
If you are more of a visual person, you can check out the YouTube guide I made here:
How to install WoW AddOns with an Addon Manager
Download an Addon Manager
To use an addon manager you will need to download one to your computer. All of the managers I will mention support retail and classic WoW addons.
Overall, there is one major commercial addon manager and several open-source options.
The major commercial option is provided by Overwolf (https://curseforge.overwolf.com/). Currently, Overwolf is free and does not require an account. In the future, it will likely require an account and have premium/pro plan options which a monthly subscription. The good news is that Overwolf has announced that 70% of their revenue will go towards supporting addon authors when that time arrives.
In the meantime, there are many great open-source addon managers. Being open-source means that they are not developed by a company but rather by generous members of the community. All open source managers are free and do not require an account.
- Ajour (https://www.getajour.com/)
- Cursebreaker (https://github.com/AcidWeb/CurseBreaker)
- Instawow (https://github.com/layday/instawow)
- Singularity (https://singularitymods.com/)
- WowUp (https://wowup.io)
Using Overwolf to Install Addons
Addon installation in Overwolf is handled by the CurseForge app. These apps are currently only supported on Windows and Mac — with a Linux version coming sometime in the future.
To get started, you can download Overwolf and CurseForge from their website.
After downloading the appropriate version, you will be guided through a standard program installation. It will take a moment to obtain the latest update and then launch. After opening, you will see a list of the games for which CurseForge supports mods for.
If you installed World of Warcraft in the recommended location, CurseForge should find your version of WoW automatically. If it doesn’t, you can click on the picture for WoW and click “Locate Game” to point it towards the folder where it is installed.
If you are installing addons on retail WoW, you should locate the “DriveLetter:\World of Warcraft\_retail_\” folder.
For classic WoW, you would set it to “DriveLetter:\World of Warcraft\_classic_\”.
Once you have set up your folders, you can now begin installing addons. To do so, simply click on “Get More Addons.” From there, you can use the search box to find a specific addon or browse through popular or new addons. Once you find the one you want, you can click on it and then select “Install.”
Congratulations, you have now installed an addon!
Using WowUp to Install Addons
If you need an addon manager which works on Linux or just want to try an open-source solution I would recommend WowUp. It is just as easy to set up as Overwolf/CurseForge but installs a lot less software.
One of the biggest selling points is that it also supports installing and updating ElvUI and TukUI, some of the most popular full user interface replacements. If you are interested in learning more about ElvUI you can read our article on Improving your WoW User Interface.
To get started, you can download WowUp from their website. After downloading, and upon trying to run the .exe file, you may see a warning. Fortunately, Wowup is safe so you can install it anyway.
Like CurseForge, WowUp will automatically find your World of Warcraft install folder. If it doesn’t, you can set the path using the “Options” tab at the top. You can then install new addons by navigating to “Get Addons” at the top.
From there, you can scroll through the list of addons or search for a specific one to install.
How to install WoW AddOns Yourself
Find your World of Warcraft folder
If you choose to install manually, you can start by finding the folder where World of Warcraft is installed on your computer.
Within that folder, you can navigate to the folder specified for addons. It will be located in the interface folder within your World of Warcraft files. As an example, if you are using Windows, it will be located at C:\Program Files (x86)\World of Warcraft\_retail_\Interface\AddOns by default. If you changed the location when you installed WoW, you will have to find that location.
Notice that this location is for installing AddOns in the retail version (currently Shadowlands) and not WoW Classic. If you want to install WoW Classic AddOns you will find the same folder but navigate to \_classic_\Interface\AddOns instead.
Download the AddOns you would like to use
Now that you found your folder, you need to download the addons you want. There are two major websites that host World of Warcraft AddOns: WoWInterface and CurseForge. Both sites have ways to filter by the functionality you are looking to add to your game. When you find the ones you want, you simply download them. For many addons, you will receive a zip folder.
Unzip downloaded AddOn folder (if required) and place in WoW Folder
The final step is to unzip the folder you just downloaded if it needs it. You will then take the resulting folder and place it into the folder we found in the first step. Here is an example of what my AddOns folder looks like.
- There are 2 ways to install WoW addons: an addon manager or manual installation.
- Addon managers make installing and updating addons super easy but require you to install an app on your computer.
- Manual installation requires you to download the addon files and place them in the proper folder. You will need to repeat the process to update an addon.