Dota 2: Setting up your hotkeys and macros



Wed 18th Apr 2012 - 6:36pm

Hotkeys and macros help you execute everything in a fast and precise manner. As a new player, it’s always difficult getting used to all of the new hotkeys you have to use. Although hotkeys are very much a personal preference, I will show you a very basic hotkey format that everyone can use and get used to.

From there, you can adjust the keys to your liking, or even keep them as is if you like the format. As a bonus, I will also show you how to set up a few useful macros on your gaming keyboard or mouse that will save you a lot of time and effort while you are in the game.

Setting up your hotkeys:

First off, let’s look at your skills. In order to look at your hotkey settings, simply click the cog on the top left of your screen.



I suggest leaving your skills at the default setup of QWER, as it is very easy and simple to use. New players will enjoy the simplicity of this system, and will enjoy casting their skills in a quick and easy manner. Even if you come from DotA 1 and are used to the legacy keys, I suggest switching over to the QWER format.

Even though you may be used to the other way, remembering all of the different hotkeys for all of the heroes is quite a hassle. Also, some hero hotkeys are all over the keyboard, making your actions slower than they have to be. No matter how familiar you are with the old key bindings, using QWER will make you perform faster and better with almost every hero.

This rule also applies to the other things in the game, such as neutral creep and the courier. Keep their hotkey bindings to the standard QWER format. Having everything in the game under the same format will help you learn the key bindings faster, so you won’t have to keep looking back to see what skills take what keys. You will naturally learn how to execute moves on all kinds of units thanks to the uniform hotkey system you use.

I also suggest changing your Ability Learn key to a key that is close by, such as T. Being able to level your skills up quickly is extremely important, as it can make the difference when trying to kill an enemy hero. Being able to cast your ultimate as soon as you hit level 6 can make a world of difference, and can really catch the enemy off guard.


You should also keep your unit actions on default, as these are quite standard in any MOBA game. I like using F1 as my hero key, as it is quite easy to reach from the normal hand position. Your select hero button should be binded to some key that you can easily reach, just so that you can bring yourself back to your hero quickly if you ever lose track of them in battle.


As for your items, the easiest hotkeys I can suggest is to use the 1-6 keys above the QWER keys. Anyone who has played an MMO will be extremely used to this setup, since you will be used to using these keys simultaneously in battle. The items I personally put in the different slots are usually set up in this format:

1. Wards
2. Smoke/Dust/Sentries
3. Sheepstick, Force Staff, Armlet, or any other important active item
4. Boots
5. Bottle, Mekansm, or any other active support item
6. TP Scrolls.

Of course, you will not always have a lot of activated items in your inventory, but it’s still nice to have the keys ready for those games that you do.



One concern people may have with this kind of set-up is the fact that you can no longer use control groups, as you are now using the numbers for your skills. I feel that this isn’t much of an issue, however, as there are very few heroes that require a massive amount of multi-unit control. Even when I play heroes such as Chen or Enchantress, I can still easily control the different units with the tab key. Pressing tab will make you take control of the next creature in your party, so you can just keep pressing tab until you get the creature you want. In all honesty, it’s really quite easy to use. I don’t miss control groups at all, because I perform just as well by using tab. It is also much easier for new players to grasp this idea and use it, as it is a lot less complex than control groups. Setting up control groups puts more stress on the new player, as they will have to remember to set them up and remember what units they put on what keys. The tab key is much more simplistic and will allow them to switch between units with little trouble.

Sticky Key:

This key is used to purchase your sticky item, which is located next to your Quick Buy bar. For most people this is a TP scroll, which I suggest you leave it as. I recommend using spacebar to buy this, as you will need it when trying to buy a TP to get away from a bad situation. Since the spacebar is so huge, you will not be able to miss it, allowing yourself ample time to hide and use it to get away.



Here’s a video of me using the 1-6 item hotkeys, as well as spacebar to buy my sticky item. As you will see, having these hotkeys basically saved my life, as I was able to use and purchase items in a very quick manner, allowing me to escape from a very bad situation.



Quick Buy:

An easy way to purchase your items is to use the Quick Buy bar that is in the game. Simply drag the item that you are planning on building next into this bar and it will list all of the components that you need to buy for it. You can then buy up those items one buy one as you earn enough gold, eventually creating the item. You should always be using this bar, as it makes shopping for your items very easy. This bar can also save you a lot of money, as you can buy up all of your items before you die and lose a lot of gold. I generally use the hotkey “J” to purchase these items up quick.




If you want an even faster way to buy your items or perform other actions, then macros are going to be your best friend.
The keyboard I have comes with five macro keys that are located on the far left. I always use these keys as my item macros. For example, my Invoker profile includes macros that will purchase my bottle, phase boots, drums of endurance, and Aghanim’s Scepter for me.

These are respectively assigned to my M1- M4 keys, and with a simple key press they will be bought up for me. My last key, M5, is used as an instant courier transfer. By pressing M5, I make the courier take everything from my stash, load it up, and deliver it to me. It will even make it run over at max speed if it has been upgraded to flying! I also have macros that can invoke spells in an extremely quick manner. If I press my M1 key on my mouse, for example, Invoker will instantly invoke and cast Ghost Walk. These macros have become essential for me and my everyday play, as they just save me so much time and effort.

There has been numerous times where these macros have allowed me to buy items up before my death, saving myself a large amount of gold. They have also helped me in terms of the laning phase, as I have been able to concentrate more on last hitting and on the minimap.

To set up a macro like this, you will need to have a mouse or keyboard that has macro keys and support (many gaming peripherals will have this).
Here are some common macros that can be used for any hero:
(Note: All commands have a .001 second delay between them. Use the smallest possible delay you can in your inputs, but make sure it works. For me, .001 seconds works perfectly.)
For courier transfer and delivery: ' > D > F > R > F1
Bottle: U >Q > - > U
Observer Wards: U>Q>9>U
Sentry Wards: U>Q>0>U
Send courier to secret shop: '>W>R

Example of Invoker Macro:

Ghost Walk: Q>Q>W>R>F (With .009 second delay between each. With such a small delay, you essentially become invisible instantly.)

It is from here where you can customize your macros even more. You can create tons of different macros and use them for all sorts of things, whether it is for buying items or using spells. Even if you don’t have a fancy gaming keyboard or mouse with macro buttons, do not fret.

Macros are purely a luxury and are not required to do well in DotA 2. For those of you who do have them, however, use them to their fullest and gain as much out of them as you can. The amount of time and gold you can save by using these macros is incredible, so don’t forget to spend a few hours setting them up.

That’s it! Hopefully this has been helpful to those of you who are brand new to DotA 2 and MOBAs in general. Remember that all of these hotkey suggestions are based off of my own personal preferences. I have suggested these keys as a guide to help those that want to change their set-up, but are not sure of what to change it to. Like all things in DotA, adapt your key bindings to your own play style and preferences. If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave them in comments below! :D