One of the great things about the World of Warcraft user interface is the ability to install community-authored addons that enhance the functionality of the client interface you use to play the game. However, little instruction is given on how to install those addons. These steps walk through the steps necessary to download and install addons for the game client.
Step 1 – Download the addon
Sites like curse.com contain a plethora of available addons. You can browse descriptions, see screenshots, and download the addon to your computer. When you find an addon you would like to install, save the addon .zip file to your computer. Remember where you saved the file. A lot of people like to save to the Desktop. I save to F:\Downloads (which will be shown in the screenshots below). Choose a location you can remember easily.
Step 2 – Copying the contents of the zip file
The file you downloaded has been compressed. It is a .zip file. That zip file might contain several other files. Zipping it into a single downloadable file makes it smaller and helps keep it all together in one package. Double-click the .zip file to open it. A new folder will open showing the contents of the .zip file. What we’re going to do now is copy those contents onto the clipboard. This will allow us to paste them into the correct location in a moment. To do this first select all of the contents of the zip file, either by dragging your mouse or pressing Ctrl-A. When all of the files and folders in the zip are selected, right-click over one of those folders and select Copy from the menu. (In the screenshot below there was only one folder in the .zip file, in that case I just right-clicked and selected Copy)
Step 3 – Locating the World of Warcraft Addon folder
Now that we’ve copied the contents of the addon .zip file to the clipboard we need to find the destination, the Worldof Warcraft addons folder. To do this, open a new explorer window (double-click on My Computer) from the desktop, and then browse to your WoW installation folder. This is probably C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft. I installed to E:\World of Warcraft (shown in the screenshots below). Once you have opened your WoW installation folder, double-click on the Interface folder, and then the AddOns folder. You will now be looking at the contents of the \World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons directory. This is where all of the game addons live. If this is your first addon installation, you’ll see a bunch of folders that start with the name Blizzard_. Those are the default Blizzard UI addons.
Step 4 – Paste the new addon files into the WoW Addons directory
Now we just need to paste the new addon folders here. To do this, right-click over the AddOns folder and select Paste as shown in the screenshot below. The goal is that the folders you copied from inside the .zip file appear next to the folders that start with the name Blizzard_. If after the copy is complete you see those folders there, then you have installed the addon successfully. If not, try reviewing these instructions and see if you can figure out what step might have gone wrong. The goal is to have the contents of the .zip folder be in the \World of Warcraft\Interface\AddOns folder next to the Blizzard_ ones.
Step 5 – Verify that the addon is available in World of Warcraft
The final step is to verify that your new addon is available in the game. To do this, start up World of Warcraft and log in normally but stop on the character selection screen. Instead of selecting your character, look to the bottom-left for a red button marked Addons. Click this and a new dialog list will open up showing your list of custom addons, each with a check-mark next to them. If the box is checked, then the addon is active. If it is unchecked then the addons is installed but disabled. Put a check-mark next to each addon in the list that you want to use. If your addon has a message next to it that says “Out of date” then you might need to get a new copy from the website where you first downloaded it. That means that the addon needs to be updated to work with the latest version of World of Warcraft.
If all has gone according to plan, you should find the new addon active in your game UI when you next log into one of your characters.
Disclaimer: These instructions are provided as is with no implied warranty or fitness for any use. Follow these instructions at your own risk. I am not responsible if your computer spontaneously catches fire and deletes your cat. Your mileage may vary.