As I became more and more interested in FFXIV I started looking at smaller things that could improve my gameplay experience. This led me to tinkering around with user macros, a very useful tool for automating all sorts of things in the game and making things a tiny bit friendlier to my user experience.
There are lots of quality of life improvements that macros can help you with, and yes, even some limited benefits when it comes to combat. If you’re interested in any of those things, read on. While I’ll cover a variety of uses, this is only an introduction and there are even more complex things you can set up with the help of macros.
In this post I’m going to introduce you to macros and how to set them up. I’m also going to go over some of the most common usages, as well as some ‘housekeeping’ aspects you may want to add when creating them. The FFXIV playerbase very often shares useful knowledge with each other, so new macro uses and innovations are often posted on reddit or discord if you’re keeping up with those communities.
Making and Saving Macros
First, let’s start with the housekeeping stuff. How do you create, access, and save your macros? I’ll also show some common lines that are added to most macros to affect the icon, timing, and potential error messages.
The User Macros Window
You can go to System > User Macros to see and create your macros. You’ll notice there’s an individual and a shared tab. The shared tab is for all characters (alts) you create, while the individual tab is just for the character you’re currently playing. No need to rewrite all your macros when you start a new character. You can have 100 macros in each tab.
You can click and drag a macro from this window to place a copy of it on your hotbar, which is then activated like any other hotbar button. Or, you can also right click the macro from the user macros window and execute it immediately.
There’s a button at the bottom right labelled ‘Text Commands’ which opens a very long list of commands you can use to write your macros. I’ll be going through some common ones, but if you’re interested in digging deeper, that’s where you’ll want to look. Note that there’s a lot of filler commands because many of them are the various emote actions.
The right-hand side of the user macros window is where the selected macro is displayed. You’re limited to 20 characters in the name. Next to the name field is the selected macro’s current icon. You can click on that to select from a number of preset icons. You can also choose others which I’ll talk about in the next section.
The body of the macro gives you 15 lines. This can feel limiting if you get into crafting or transformation macros, but it’s plenty for most macro purposes.
How to Set Macro Icons
There are a number of default macro icons in the user macros interface that you can view and choose from easily. With a macro selected in the user macros window, click on the grey box to the left of the name of the macro, and select from several pages of default icons. These cover a variety of generic symbols but also some game-related ones as well.
If you can’t find one you like, or if you want something specific already in the game, you can change the icon by typing this line inside the macro:
/macroicon “icon name” [category]
/micon “icon name” [category]
This works great for combat macros especially, since it will display the recast timer and mana cost, just like the regular skill you’re using the icon for.
You can even use icons for pet commands, items, waymarks, emotes, and tons more. If you have the name of the icon correct but it still won’t show up, try including the type of icon after the quotations, for example:
/micon stay pet
/micon greeting emote
/micon a waymark
Skills for combat, crafting, and gathering jobs do not need a category tag after the skill name, since it assumes the [action] category by default.
Note that you will need quotations for icons that have more than one word. Names that are merely hyphenated do not require quotations.
/micon “cure II”
/micon “battle bear” mount
/micon “attacker stance” companion
/micon “wind-up leviathan” minion
/micon hi-cordial item
Unfortunately not all items in a category seem to work. While cordials display as a macro icon, I couldn’t get potions or ethers to.
There are also many categories which I thought would allow you to use icons but sadly do not (or I just don’t know the proper category tag). Traits, squadron commands, and system menu icons were all things I tried and failed to use as macro icons.
Why Do I Get Macro Errors?
If a macro performs an action that was unsuccessful, like trying to resurrect a living party member, shield your target with no target set, or use a skill without the resources to do so, you will receive an error message in chat. These can be annoying, and if many can go off, can flood the chat window. Most macros I use include one of the following lines to prevent this:
You can put this line anywhere in the macro. I often put it at the end, or sometimes the start.
How to Use Wait Commands
Wait commands can only wait in whole second intervals. So, you cannot wait 2.5 seconds, it will round up to 3. You can put these either on their own line or at the end of another line and they should be functionally identical. You can’t use a wait command to wait more than 60 seconds.
/ac “Delicate Synthesis”
/ac “Delicate Synthesis” <wait.3>
These are very common in crafting macros since you have to wait for the animation to play before using each skill. Some more niche uses for wait commands include making a cooldown notification macro, or putting one in your raise macro to avoid spamming party chat.
Be aware that if your computer lags, you may find your crafting macro breaks because it needed an extra second in between two actions. This happened to me several times when I would do a set of macro crafts, and the odd one would fail here and there. I just decided to add an extra second to my wait commands.
Have a Pre-Written Message Ready to Go
While this may not seem super useful to everyone, there are plenty of people who play on PS4 and don’t happen to use a plug-in keyboard. This makes chatting super inconvenient, so these players may find it useful to set up some messages when they aren’t in the middle of a duty. They can quickly be activated with the press of a button.
If you’re someone who likes to be friendly in chat with your newfound party members, you might want to set up a macro that types out your preferred polite greeting or farewell.
If you’re new to a role, especially tank or healer, let them know that you’re learning the role still, and indicate if you’d like advice or feedback.
If you’re a goofball you can macro some ASCII art. I’ve seen a lot of these in alliance raids, some of which have made me laugh. Be careful not to spam these sorts of macros, though, since they can quickly flood chat and make it hard to read others’ messages.
Coordinate Savage Fight Strategy and Positions
Macros are extremely commonly used in PUGs (pick-up groups) in the party finder, especially if you’re learning savage fights. These duties are more complicated than casual content and have a lot of moving parts.
This means there are lots of times where every party member needs to be somewhere specific to perform mechanics correctly. Posting a macro in chat at the beginning of the fight with everyone’s position saves a lot of time and helps get everyone on the same page for what the group will be doing in specific moments.
Of course, these macros are all created mostly independently, so there isn’t one master macro that everybody uses. Strategies change as people try new things with the fight, and come up with more efficient tactics. It’s important to take a look at the macro when you see it. If you like it, ask them for a link or copy it yourself and paste it into your user macros.
Use Sound Effects Wisely
Sound effects can be put to good use, just be careful not to throw them in unnecessarily. These can be annoying if overused, so only include them if they add value.
Some of the most useful ones I’ve seen in alliance raids make use of the ‘warning’ sound effects, which usually get people to look up and move during an important ‘move to your spot or you’ll die’ mechanic. If you’re in Labyrinth of the Ancients you may sometimes hear someone playing the danger bongos during the ‘Ancient Flare’ cast.
I made a little notepad macro just describing the sound effects so I can reference this if I want to use one in a macro. Some of them are too quiet to hear over the noise of combat, while others are quite loud and annoying, especially if repeated. Remember to use these sparingly or leave them out altogether if you’re in a party.
If you want to play around with these you can easily do so with the echo command (/e). That way you don’t have to bother any party members while you test them out.
System Command Macros
There are tons of great uses for macros that help improve your interface with the game.
You can hide UI elements using the /hud command. Use the ‘on’, ‘off’, or ‘toggle’ subcommands:
/hud dutylist toggle
/hud scenarioguide toggle
You can adjust system settings. I use a macro to mute the game with one click, and another to set the volume back to where I normally keep it:
You can examine other players’ gear without using a menu. I set this to a mouse keybind (ctrl+M3) so I can hover over players and open their character screen:
You can make a macro that changes your gearset and HUD layout all at once. This is great if you’re the type of person who uses different HUD layouts for different roles (some people do this when they heal for instance, as the party list becomes more important), or if you prefer your crafters’ or gatherers’ HUDs to be setup differently than your combat jobs.
/micon 3 gearset
/gearset change 3
For some more advanced usages of macros, I’ve seen several ‘transformation’ macros which do a magical girl style outfit change while your character poses or uses combat skills. These can be as simple or as complicated as you like, limited by the number of lines in a macro, that is.
You can also create nested hotbars, though this is quite a bit more complicated. I recommend following a YouTube tutorial, that’s what I did. Personally I love using this; I find it makes everything feel so much more compact and organized.
Remember that macros are not meant to completely automate combat. That wouldn’t be very fun or engaging, and this is a game after all. Square Enix has made sure that macros are generally less effective at combat than the average player, at least in most aspects.
There are still a bunch of useful macros that can improve the feeling and use of certain combat abilities. These are specific types of skills though, and in general macro use should be limited in regards to combat. GCDs (weaponskills and spells) in particular are usually best left alone.
The Disadvantages of Combat Macros
Some people discover macros in this game and they try to be a little too clever with them, thinking it will be a definite improvement with no drawbacks. They might try to macro a three-step melee combo onto one button to save hotbar space, or make combat easier, and on the surface, yes it can be done. What I think needs to be understood however is how this cuts your effectiveness in battle.
The GCD (global cooldown) is 2.5 seconds, further reduced by the skill speed or spell speed substats. In order for a macro to actually perform a three-step combo you would have to issue wait commands. Without wait commands the macro would quickly spit out orders for three skills, but the second and third would be ignored because your character is busy executing the first attack. After all, you can’t just mash 1, 2, 3 on your keyboard as fast as possible either. You have to wait before you issue a command for the next button in the sequence.
Wait commands can only operate in 1 second intervals. You probably see where this is going. Trying to type <wait.2.5> rounds itself to <wait.3> and now you’re at least half a second slower than manually inputting the buttons yourself (but almost definitely more than that because your gear’s skill speed makes your GCD between 2 and 2.5 seconds).
This means that if you use macros like this on every GCD, your character performs at most around 83% the GCD output. This is a big no-no. The most basic thing new players can do to improve damage output is to make sure you are always keeping your GCD rolling (ABC: “Always Be Casting”). Dropping almost 20% of your GCD skills because you didn’t want to set up another hotbar is completely not worth it.
OK so chaining multiple GCD skills isn’t 100% effective. Got it. What if we just had a single GCD skill on a macro? That’s still got a drawback. Observant players new to the game may have noticed that you can actually press the button for a GCD a moment before the GCD is ready. The game will ‘queue’ the skill and it will go off as soon as it can, leaving your GCD rolling uninterrupted.
Macros do not queue. You can press your macro keybind a moment before your GCD is rolling and….nothing happens. You have to actually spam the key to get it to activate when the GCD is ready. If you’re lucky you’ll be close, but since you’re a human and not a computer, you can only fall further and further behind, bit by bit.
Here’s a visual representation. This gif shows someone spamming a non-macro GCD vs a macro GCD and you’ll see it’s inevitable that you fall behind and lose casts over time.
Commonly Used Combat Macros
As you can see, macros are not as useful to combat as you might have first thought. While GCD skills should usually be avoided, there are still some really convenient uses on oGCD skills. The most common uses are for those skills that target other players or have an AoE ground indicator that needs to be placed.
If you need to target another player, consider a mouseover macro, or one that always targets the same position in your party list. There’s also some use for chat notification macros, but be warned these can be considered spammy or annoying by some players. If you’re including a chat message, keep it brief, and avoid or limit the use of sound effects.
Shirk Your Co-Tank
/ac “Shirk” <2>
This will shirk the party member in party position 2 (by default this is your cotank). The macro will display the shirk icon and remaining cooldown as well.
Single-Target Ally (mouseover or cotank)
/ac “Heart of Stone” <mo>
/ac “Heart of Stone” <2>
/micon “Heart of Stone”
This macro will target whoever you hover your mouse over. You can use this to provide mitigation for a teammate in the party list assuming their character is in range. If no player is moused over, it will go on your cotank. This is pretty useful for tank swaps.
This style of macro is great for tanks (Intervention, Cover, Nascent Flash, The Blackest Night, Heart of Stone) and also has use for something like Dragoon’s Dragon Sight.
Single-Target Ally (target of target a.k.a. highest enmity)
/ac “Divine Benison” <tt>
/micon “Divine Benison”
This is a similar macro to the last one, but it specifically targets whoever has the enemy’s attention at the moment. If you’re a healer and your tanks do a tank swap throughout the fight, this will always go on whoever currently holds the boss.
If you’re comfortable using the assist target keybind (target the target of your current target) you might not need this, since you can switch between the boss and the current tank pretty quickly that way.
/ac “Asylum” <t>
/ac “Asylum” <tt>
/ac “Asylum” <me>
This will attempt to place the AoE on your target, then on your target’s target, then on yourself. In a situation where the boss is off the side of the arena it will be placed on the main tank instead. In a situation where the boss goes completely untargetable, you’ll place the AoE on yourself.
Placing ground indicators can feel really slow, so this is a popular usage of macros. I still recommend having a separate keybind for the unmacroed skill so you can always direct the placement if you absolutely need to.
If you macro Shukuchi using this, you probably only want to keep the <t> line. Also I should point out that you (unfortunately) cannot use a mouseover macro to cast ground placement aoes on the ground. Only targets like the ones listed above.
/ac “Raise” <t>
/p Raising <t>
This lets your party know in chat who you’re raising, which can help save other healers from wasting time attempting to raise the same target. The <wait.1> line allows you to tap the button a couple times (to make sure it goes off) without spamming the chat.
Keep chat macros in combat simple, and don’t spam them (especially if they have a sound effect). Some people use macros to notify teammates they’ve used an important defensive cooldown like Hallowed Ground. Personally I don’t find this very useful since healers tend to spend a lot of time looking at the party list anyway. Your healer already knows you used Superbolide. You’re at 1 HP.
/ac “Elixir Field”
/e Elixir Field is ready! <se.5>
This is not a style of macro I personally use, but I’ve heard of people making these before. Essentially you get a message in chat with a sound effect that only you can see and hear, because it’s an echo (/e). The macro waits the length of the skill’s cooldown (so you have to check what that is when you set this up). The cooldown can’t be more than 60 seconds since that’s the maximum time the macro will <wait>.
Using any other macro will stop this macro, so you wouldn’t get the echo notification when the skill comes off cooldown. That makes this type of macro extremely niche, basically only useful when you have one single combat skill (cooldown <60s) macroed and you want to use it every time it’s up. Not common, not a big quality of life improvement. But it exists.
Quite possibly the most common usage of macros are the ones that dedicated crafters use to ensure quick, high-quality crafts with the push of a button (or two). These macros are heavily dependent on meeting a certain threshold on your maximum CP so you can cast all the skills required in the macro. This CP requirement is usually noted by whoever created and posted the macro.
Here is an example of crafting macros someone has shared. They state what durability craft it’s for and the required stats and number of HQ materials. Note that many crafting macros are too long to fit in one, so they use two with an echo (/e Macro #1 finished <se.1>) to let you know when it’s time to use the second macro. You can put an echo at the very end to tell you the item is complete. It’s helpful if you want to alt tab while crafting.
There’s also usually a listed craftsmanship and control stat to ensure a high quality result. If your control stat is a little lower it simply won’t be a guaranteed high quality result. If your craftsmanship stat is too low though your craft could fail entirely.
It’s very common to only use normal quality materials if your crafters are geared well enough, especially with the changes to crafting in Shadowbringers which made it a little easier to get 100% quality. Many macros you find online will assume no HQ materials are being used, but you may come across one that expects one or more components to be HQ.
If you make your own for personal use, consider including the required CP in the macro name in case you need to eat food to reach that CP again later. Also note how many starting materials should be HQ so you guarantee an HQ result.
There aren’t a ton of different uses for gathering macros, but collectables are made much simpler with a one button macro to boost collectability rating.
Here is a macro for gathering collectables that requires 600 GP to use. As I said, not many macros for gathering are out there. If you want to make some yourself, you can check The Balance discord for other gathering rotations you might find handy.
While you might not want to fully automate combat, user macros can improve how you craft, navigate between jobs, and communicate with other players. There are a lot of tricks to explore, and members of the community are always experimenting and sharing useful knowledge.
Give some basic macros a try and see if you can make anything just a little easier for you and how you like to play. Also, if you come across any other macro icon categories, let me know in the comments! I’m sure there are lots of people who would appreciate the tip.