If you play World of Warcraft, addons are one of the best ways to customize and improve your experience. The user interface has barely changed since 2004 and is pretty barebones, but with just a few WoW addons you can do everything from overhauling its look entirely to automating unnecessary tasks like selling junk items and managing your inventory, or creating on-screen prompts to help you survive boss fights. How deep you want to go is entirely up to you.
There are thousands of WoW addons to choose from, so to help you out we've rounded up a selection of the most popular, along with a few of our personal favorites. It doesn't matter if you're a hardcore raider or just logging in once a week to run World Quests, there's definitely a WoW addon that can make your life a lot easier.
First, let's take a quick look at what you need to do to get WoW addons working.
How to install WoW addons
A few months ago, the de facto method for installing WoW addons was through Twitch's app, but that's no longer the case. Back in November 2020, the mods section of the Twitch app was retired and replaced with a different program called Overwolf. A lot of people don't care for Overwolf, but fortunately, there's a ton of great alternatives.
We have a separate article breaking down the different WoW addon managers, but if you're looking for the simplest and best one, our recommendation is WowUp. It's easy to use, intuitive, and even let's you install some UI overhauls like ElvUI that you couldn't previously find on Twitch.
Alternatively, if you'd prefer to install your addons manually without the need for extra software, it's a fairly quick and painless process. Simply download the addon, extract it from the ZIP file and drop it into the Addons folder located in your World of Warcraft installation, which you should find at World of Warcraft/_retail_/Interface/Addons.
Using the manual method means you'll have to keep track of addons yourself and follow the steps above every time an update is available. That can be tiresome. If you plan on running more than a couple of addons, it's probably worth your while looking around for an addon manager to save you valuable time that could otherwise be spent in Azeroth.
Now that you're all set up, let's take a look at some great addons to try. All of these addons (except ElvUI in some cases) can be found via most addon managers, but we've also linked to sites where you can manually download them.
Best WoW addons for 2021
World of Warcraft's hotbars are easily the most outdated part of its user interface. By default, they're quite small, can lack crucial information, and you don't have a whole lot of customization options. Enter Bartender, an addon that gives you full control of ten action bars including their position, size, and even transparency.
If you're starting out in World of Warcraft as a brand new player, this should be one of the first mods you consider. Before long, your hotbars are going to fill up and become an annoying mess. Bartender lets you set keybindings and position them perfectly for an optimal setup. More advanced users will appreciate the ability to program custom macros that can change the state of your action bars too.
The other major addon that you shouldn't be without, Deadly Boss Mods makes World of Warcraft's complex boss fights a little more approachable by providing real-time alerts to keep you one step ahead. With this addon (and its other versions for older expansions) installed, you won't have to painstakingly memorize every boss fight. Alerts and camera effects will warn you of dangerous attacks or give you simple instructions. Raid and dungeon timers are synchronized between other members of your group, which keeps everyone on the same page even if one player accidentally disconnects.
What I really love, however, is a tiny feature that auto replies to in-game messages while you're in a boss fight. This optional autoresponse will let whoever whispered you know you're kinda busy and tell them how much health the boss has left so they know if things are going poorly.
Alternative: Bigwigs. Bigwigs does pretty much everything that Deadly Boss Mods does but is less intrusive by default. This is a great option if you're not a fan of DBM's often loud and immersion-breaking warnings.
World of Warcraft's inventory system is kind of a mess in the default version. Instead of having one large inventory, you have separate bags that store all the stuff you find while exploring. It's cumbersome to deal with, but Bagnon makes this nightmare go away. It replaces the entire inventory window with one large bag that stores all your items, but its other features are what makes it a must-have.
For one, you can view the items (even if they're in the bank) of all your alternate characters on your account. Icons also have special coloring based on item quality, helping you more easily discern rare items from trash. A search engine in the inventory window makes finding specific items even easier and there's the always helpful sort items option, which cleans up your bags and groups relevant item types together.
Alternative: Adibags. Adibags is a compromise between Blizzard's default bags and the 'one big bag' look that Bagnon offers. This addon automatically separates the contents of your bag into categories and you can download additional filter options if you need them.
Details! Damage Meter is a very accurate graphical DPS meter that shows how much damage you and everyone in your party is doing by sifting through the combat log. If you're playing a damage-dealing specialization, I cannot stress how important it is to have Details. Not only will it help you up your game, its optional tools are a godsend, like being able to see the talent choices and item level of your party members.
Alternative: Skada. Skada doesn't offer quite as much detailed information as Details provides but if you simply want to keep an eye on your damage or healing output without any of the extra fluff, Skada does the job.
Easily the most complex addon on this list, WeakAuras 2 is a framework that lets you display special graphical elements on screen to indicate buffs, debuffs, and other relevant status effects instead of just bombarding your eyes with more numbers and meters. There's an insane level of customization available here, from using custom sounds (like Owen Wilson saying "Wow!") to class-appropriate visual cues. It can be a lot to take in, but meralonne's video guide will get you started. The great thing about Weak Auras 2 is that, if you don't have the energy to program your own custom ones, you can easily import templates from other players. Here's a website with a massive list of pre-built Weak Auras 2 scripts you can use.
You get one guess what this addon does. MoveAnything is a powerful tool that lets you adjust every UI element, giving you complete control over not just your action bars but quest list, portrait location, minimap location, and more. If you've ever wanted to fully redesign WoW's UI, this is a good place to start.
This is one of the most popular total conversion addons for World of Warcraft. ElvUI replaces every single user interface element with a sleek redesign that is a lot more modern and readable. The tradeoff, of course, is that you're also getting rid of the fantasy themed UI altogether. Historically, you've always had to install and update ElvUI manually, and while this isn't too much of a chore, there are a number of newer addon managers popping up that allow you to update it along with your other addons. But even if you decide to stick with manually updating it, what ElvUI brings to the table makes the sacrifice more than worth it.
One of my favorite parts about ElvUI is that it comes with an in-game setup process that'll help tailor the UI to suit your needs. There's class-specific setups that emphasis the interface elements most important to your role, and the settings have a ton of options to play with. I particularly love how the action bars behave in ElvUI, and its built-in addons means you won't have to fuss with other addons like OmniCC. Just beware, if you want to use ElvUI, install it first before bringing more addons into the fold because it doesn't always play nice.
World Quests are a type of temporary daily quest first introduced in Legion. It's a great system that suffers from World of Warcraft's outdated map interface, but World Quest Tracker fixes those problems. From a zoomed out view, World Quest Tracker shows you the rewards available from World Quests in each zone, so you can quickly see if there are rewards that are relevant to your goals. From there, you can simply click on the reward icon to automatically track multiple world quests in your quest window so you don't waste time having to check the map again and again. World Quest Tracker also has a stats screen that tracks how many world quests you complete, cumulative rewards, and more.
There are a lot of addons to choose from that change the appearance of the default Blizzard nameplates and make them much easier to see during combat. Despite the name, Threatplates can be used by any class and spec and isn't limited to tanks. As with many other addons, the nameplates will change colour, based on your threat generation but there is a lot more customisation available if you want to play around with the options.
Of course, much of your decision when choosing a nameplate addon will come down largely to personal preference. One of the things I love about Threatplates is the little quest icon that appears above the enemy nameplate if they are required to complete an active quest. I'm sure there are addons that do the same but Threatplates does what I require and I see little reason to change it now.
Alternative: KuiNameplates. A clean and even more customisable alternative to Threat Plates.
Once you've finished leveling your first character to 60 in Shadowlands, you probably aren't keen on doing that whole process over again with another character. Enter Azeroth Auto Pilot, a speed-leveling addon that automates dozens of tiny things to make grinding a new character to max level even easier. With this installed, you'll have an arrow that guides you from quest to quest in highly optimized path while the addon handles all the little things like talking to NPCs, interacting with items, and more. Really, it's like leveling a new character on auto pilot.
GatherMate2 is a great addon if you have gathering professions and plan to farm resources for crafting or selling on the auction house. Every time you gather a herb or mine a node, the location will be recorded and a small indicator will appear on your map—and minimap—to show that you've gathered from that spot. This is invaluable if you're going to be gathering in the same zone more than once and allows you to see exactly where the highest concentration of potential ore or herbs can be found.
This one is real simple, OPie creates contextual radial menus so you can easily use certain abilities on your action bar with just your mouse. It's not a necessary addon by any means, but it's sleek and simple to use. I love freeing up action bar space and dumping seldom, but still necessary, actions (like Demon Hunters' spectral sight) on the radial menu.