Hotkeys in Warcraft


This page will concentrate on how to hotkey (keyboard shortcut) groups of units or buildings together and how to properly manage your hotkeys or groups of units/buildings. Everything described will be based on if you are using the original hotkeys of the game.

Hotkeys are critical in properly controlling your units and buildings. Without hotkeying your units or buildings you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage in that you will be must slower than your opponent who utilizes hotkeys.

While at first this may seem hard or burdensome to do, overtime the below will all become muscle memory and you can do it in less than a second.

Selecting Multiple Units/Buildings:

In Warcaft you can select up to 12 buildings or units at one time. There are really 2 ways to select multiple units/buildings (so that you can later make them a hotkey).

First is to simply box click. Meaning use your mouse and create a box over the units/buildings you want selected together.

Second is to select one unit and if you want to add another unit to that selection (or group) press shift and left click the unit or units you wish to add to the group. You can also add all units of the same unit type (that are on your screen) to a group by holding ctrl then using your left mouse and double clicking one of the units of that unit type (for example one footman) to add all the unit types (all the footmen) on your screen to your group.

How to make a control group:

In Warcraft you can make one hotkey group (or control group) of up to 12 units. Once you have “hotkeyed” a group of units/buildings you can simply press the hotkey on your keyboard and it will automatically select that group of units/buildings. Once the units/buildings are selected you can do whatever you want with these units/buildings. For example If you attempt to move or attack with a hotkey, all the units in that hotkey will move or attack or if you set a rally point with multiple buildings via a hotkey you will set a rally point for all of your buildings.

To make a hotkey group you must do the following:

  1. Select one or a group of units/buildings.
  2. Hold the ctrl button plus a number key from 1-9 ( the 0 key works as well). (shift can work instead of ctrl as well when making new hotkey groups on numbers never previously used).

After you have done this you have now made a “hotkey” group assigned to the number you pressed with the control button. This means that if you every want to quickly select this group of units/buildings and issue a command then just press the number (without pressing ctrl) and you will automatically select those units/buildings.

You can override old hotkey groups by reissuing the hotkey command with new units/buildings.

How to add or remove units from a hotkey or group of units:

One way to add or remove units from a specific hotkey group is to select only the units/buildings you want in your new hotkey and using the ctrl + number method described above, however, this is a slow ineffective process once the game gets going.

An alternative is you can quickly add or remove units/buildings from your hotkey group by using the shift key and left clicking

To add units to a hotkey group using this method you can do it in one of 3 ways:

  • Select only the unit(s)/building(s) you wish to be added to a hotkey group. Then press shift and while holding shift hit the hotkey number you wish to add the units to hotkey of THIS ONLY WORKS TO ADD ALL THE UNITS IF YOU HAVE SPACE IN THE HOTKEY GROUP OR ELSE THEY WONT ALL BE GROUPED IN.
  • Or, select the hotkey group of units/buildings you currently have. Hold shift and left click with your mouse on the units/buildings you wish to add to the hotkey group then while still holding shift press the hotkey number u want the hotkey to be.

To remove units from a hotkey group:

  • Select the hotkey group. Hold shift and left click the units you wish to remove. You must then remake the hotkey group by pressing the ctrl key with the units you want in the hotkey group still selected and press whichever hotkey you want it to be assigned as.

Sub Groups

When you make a hotkey of multiple different types of buildings/units they will be grouped by unit type/building type as different groups within that hotkey. You can filter through the different subgroups of units/buildings quickly via the Tab key. When your hotkey is selected automatically one of the sub groups will be selected, however if you want to use a special ability (casting a spell or using a special ability/item) of a different unit in a different subgroup within that hotkey group you can use the tab key to achieve this. What this means is that if you press the Tab button you can quickly go through the various sub groups allowing you to quickly access various types of units.

For example if you have 2 heroes, destroyers and fiends in one hotkey group and you wish to utilize one of your destroyers abilities you can simply select your hotkey and then press tab 2 times and you will go to your destroyers (Your 1st hero is the first sub group and will be automatically auto selected when you go to your hotkey, your 2nd hero is the 2nd sub group, your destroyers are your 3rd group, and your fiends would be your 4th sub group).

*Note if you attempt to cast a spell from a spell caster and have multiple spell casters of that type in the hotkey group, you will only cast the spell from one caster. Thus, if you wish to cast a spell from multiple types of the same caster you must issue the spell command multiple times.

If you wish to go to the previous subgroup you either can cycle through all your sub groups in a hotkey or simply press Shift and Tab at the same time.

Generally if you issue a command (such as attacking) to all units in a hotkey group, then all your units will attack. However if you wish to only have one subgroup do a specific order (like attacking one unit) then hold down the ctrl button while the subgroup is highlighted in the hotkey group. The subgroup of units will then perform that order while the rest of your hotkey group does whatever you commanded prior. However, to utilize this you must go into your Options menu and make sure the “Subgroup order modifier key” is selected.

It is also is important to note that every unit, building, hero, spell, and item in the game also has a hotkey assigned to it that you can use quickly perform multiple actions. For that, you need to just learn that by checking in game what the assigned hotkeys are or changing them based on what you feel most comfortable with.

Here is a video explaining how hotkeys work and more: