Hotkey Bar Basics

22 06 2009
Single Hotkey Bar, replaces 3 previous hotkey bars, click to view larger image.

Single Hotkey Bar, replaces 3 previous hotkey bars, click to view larger image.

All the nifty attacks and buffs can be mostly useless if you can not access them quickly and efficiently, especially if you are in combat and don’t have time to dig through several layers of menus to find them.  In the Anarchy Online world, Babaoroody and his friends Babaente and Tireen, solve this problem with something called Hotkey Bars which appear in the standard AO heads up display that is super-imposed on the view of the person.

The really powerful aspect of hotkey bars is that when a bar is active, the individual items in the bar are activated by the 1-0 keys. There can be up to 10 hot bars on the viewing area, however this can be problematic for two reasons.  The first is the amount of screen real estate they take up. One bar can be tucked to a side or top or bottom. More than one bar starts eating quickly into the remaining viewing area and can make some activities, like kiting which require a wide area view, very difficult.  The second hang up is with multiple hot bars is it introduces another set of key commands in order to switch between active bars.

The hotkey bar settings can be found in the F10, Preferences, GUI, Misc menu.  There is a sliding scale to select the number of hotkey bars to display from 1 to 10.

One other option that is very useful on this screen is the “Lock hotkey bars” toggle.  When it is engaged the hotkey bars cannot be moved from their location on the screen. This prevents accidentally dragging them out of position.  Toggle this off of course when you want to re-arrange things.

There are only 2 commands to learn in order to master hotkey bars:

  • Shift + 1-0
    Shift + any number from 1 to 0, causes the corresponding hotkey to be activated on the active bar.  The active bar is indicated by a light block showing in the small rectangle next to the hotkey bar number.
  • Alt + 1-0
    Alt + any number from 1 to 0, causes the focus to switch to a particular hotkey bar. The active hotkey bar is always indicated by the small rectangle to the left of the bar number being illuminated.  When a bar have been selected using Alt + the bar’s number, then pressing keys 1-0 will activate that bars hot-keys.

Of course, left clicking with the mouse will activate any hotkey on any hot-bar, regardless of which bar has focus.

Right clicking on the hotkey bar number will cause the bar to toggle between vertical and horizontal alignment.  When the options menu “lock hotkey bars” is toggled to off, hotkey bars can be moved and placed just about anywhere on the screen.

Hotkeys can be assigned to:

  • nanos, special attacks, and to use items like first aid kits
  • emotes
  • chat macros which combine emotes and frequently used chat saying
  • macros to display specific custom help screens
  • macros for frequently used commands like /follow

There are two ways to create hotkey items:

  • drag and drop a nano icon from the programs window
  • from the command line.
    Example, at the command line type /macro greeting /greet.  After hitting the enter key, a small button will appear with “greeting” in it.
Visit Anarchy Online Arcanum hosted by for one of the most informative and attractive guides to many things AO.

Visit Anarchy Online Arcanum hosted by for one of the most informative and attractive guides to many things AO.

For a more complete run down of macros and custom help files, visit the Anarchy Online Arcanum hosted by

This site is a real jewel of AO information covering a broad range of topics in a well organized, attractive design that is also easy to use.  Here are links to the sections relevant to this posts topic:

When a character starts out in Rubi-Ka, they often fill up one or two rows of a hot bar, and then start additional hot bars, so that  more items are visible on the screen. Many players find that once they get experienced and can remember most of their nanos, commands and other hotkey actions, that they no longer need to have more than one or two bars visible.

Triple Hotkey Bars as used by level 71 NT, click for larger view

Triple Hotkey Bars as used by level 71 NT, click for larger view

Babaente having reached level 71, decided to take stock of her growing hot bar collection and to pare it down a bit.  She had 3 hot bars on screen holding around 50 unique nanos, commands, emotes and other macros.  She had been using this set ever since starting on her last token mission run to get 250 tokens and she knew that she rarely used more than 2 bars during the same relative period of time.

With this in mind she figured she could put all of the items in one hot bar and could manage it using the hot bar command Shift + number of the layer desired, to switch between layers.  She spent a little while moving the items to different layers on one bar.

Babaoroody has used a HUD set up with only one or two hotkey bars before.  When Babaente checked with him for his tips, he told her that it would be up to her to get used to using the Shift + number command to switch hotkey bar layers. WTB (AO shopping channel shorthand for Want To Buy) a single key method for selecting the active hotkey bar layer.  WTB also for a single key method for switching  between two or more hotkey bars.  While the commands are simple enough to learn and remember, they take two hands to execute.  Issuing these commands with one hand IS possible, and certainly would help maintain flow much better then having to free up both hands to utilize more than one hotkey bar. Try holding the left shift key and any number 1-0.  It appears fairly easy with numbers 1-5, but 5-0 look like quite a stretch, literally.

The new set up uses 8 layers with 2 layers still empty.

  1. Layer 1 is for Missions
    • Enveloping Darkness (single blind/debuff)
    • Greater Toxic Field (single nuke)
    • Phosphor Torch (single fire nuke)
    • Mass Claw Eyes (group blind/debuff)
    • Limited Shrapnel Spray (AOE nuke)
    • First Aid
    • Treatment Lab
    • Nano Kit
    • Nano Recharger
    • Follow macro
  2. Layer 2 is for Primary Buffs
    • Crunch code Sieve
    • Enhance Nano Communications
    • Humidity Extractor
    • Enfram’s Superior Fortification
    • Treatment Expertise
    • Regeneration health delta
    • First Aid Expertise
    • Terrain Knowledge
    • Quickness
    • Weapon Augmentation
  3. Layer 3 is for Secondary Buffs
    • Computer Expertise
    • Agility Boost
    • Intelligence Boost
    • Psychic Boost
    • Sense Boost
    • Space Time Boost
    • Stamina Boost
    • Strength Boost
    • Mat Met Expertise
    • Matter Create Expertise
  4. Layer 4 is for Kiting
    • Furious Assault (single long cast nuke)
    • Greater Toxic Field (single nuke)
    • Phosphor Torch (fire single nuke)
    • Mass Claw Eyes (group blind/debuff)
    • Limited Shrapnel Spray (AOE nuke)
    • First Aid
    • Project Calm
    • Notem Splice (nano HOT)
    • Weak Gravity Pull
    • Enmity (taunt)
  5. Layer 5 is for Assorted Buffs
    • Breaking and Entering Expertise
    • Pistol Expertise
  6. Layer 6 is for Emotes, Chat, and Help
    • Macro to Beg for Iron Circle, GSF etc.
    • FBLOCK emote
    • PULP emote
    • GREET emote
    • BALLET emote
    • Macro to shout for help in Team channel
    • Macro to display own custom help screen directory
    • Macro to display additional emotes and chat commands in
      custom help screen
    • Backflip emote
    • Thankyou emote and chat vicinity macro
  7. Layer 7 is for Commands and more Macros
    • Macro post looking for team message in vicinity chat
    • Macro to post Train warning in vicinity chat
    • Macro to emote and say thank you in vicinity chat
    • Macro to display listing of guild members online in guild
    • Macro to display listing of those logged into Froobs chat
    • Macro to display custom help screens
    • pick item up command
    • crawl command
    • Yalmaha activation/deactivation
    • Exit command
  8. Layer 8 is for seldome used actions
    • Weak Gravity Pull (root)
    • Project Calm (calm)
    • Nano Contagion (DOT, damage over time nuke)

Babaente plans to try this for a while to see how it works.  She can always put a second bar up if this the time arises where a single bar does not seem up to the task. If that should be the case, then she will only need to master one more command: Alt + number to make the so selected hot bar the active one.




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