FFXIV: How To Set Up Your Hotbars For Keyboard and Mouse

For all those keyboard warriors, here's some tips for setting up your hotbars.

Jumping into Final Fantasy XIV as a whole can be daunting. Hell, starting up a new job can also see you moving out of your comfort zone. You might’ve been a White Mage for years, but you want to try tanking as a Paladin now. Just understanding a job is a steep barrier to entry, let alone setting up your hotbars. 

We’re here to help you. Specifically for those who play on keyboard and mouse,  we’re gonna give you all the details to get your hotbars squared away. (Don’t worry controller players, we have a guide for you cooking up soon!) This will include the initial setup and configuration, all the way to keybindings, and which actions you should be placing where. 

Configuring Your Hotbars

When you first spin up a character in FFXIV, your standard setup will have two bars of 12 buttons each. The bottom bar is your primary hotbar, with its default keybinds set to the line of number keys on your keyboard, from ‘1’ all the way to ‘=’. The bar above that is your second hotbar, which is bound to the modifier key ‘Ctrl’ and the row of number keys. If you press ‘1’, you’d use whatever’s in the first slot of Hotbar 1, while pressing ‘Ctrl+1’ would activate the first action in Hotbar 2. 

That will be enough to handle the actions needed for leveling the jobs from A Realm Reborn and perhaps Heavensward, but it’ll start feeling cluttered as you near level 60 and a huge struggle beyond that. At that point, you’ll need more hotbars. 

You’ll need to access the System menu by either hitting Escape or clicking the ‘XIV’ button on the Main Menu you’ll find in the bottom-right of the default user interface (UI). From here, you want to select HUD Layout. From here, you can set four different HUD layouts by clicking the large number buttons. We’re just focusing on a single layout for the purposes of this guide.

FFXIV Hotbar HUD Layout 1

The glowing radial buttons will let you know which UI elements you can move around. By default, it’s set to Basic, meaning you can change around everything. Each UI element will have a shadowed box around it, so you know how much space it roughly will take up onscreen. They’ll also be clearly labeled with an element name. 

Your currently-selected element will be highlighted in orange. Elements that are visible will have their name text in grey, or white if it’s the currently-selected element. Purple means that element is hidden. Just left-click and drag an element to move it to your preferred position. Right-click toggles the visibility of that element on and off. For example, you can hover your mouse cursor over ‘Hotbar 3’ and right-click to make it visible, and then left-click and drag to move it around the screen. 

You can also look at the drop-down menu under Current UI Element to directly select an element. Left-click on the menu and you can scroll through a list of all the UI element names to select your chosen one. Let’s say we wanted to turn on and configure Hotbar 5. I click on the drop-down and select ‘Hotbar 5’, which highlights that element as well. 

FFXIV UI Element Settings

If you click the gear icon next to the drop-down menu, you’ll also get a more comprehensive list of settings for the currently-selected UI element. For the hotbars, this includes a drop-down to change the overall size, a slider to change the transparency, a single square button to toggle the visibility of the element on or off, and a series of radial buttons for overall layout. To explain the latter, every hotbar has a total of 12 buttons in a single-column horizontal layout (12×1). You could also set it in a vertical layout (1×12), or perhaps three rows with four buttons each (4×3). As you can see above, there are six different layout styles. You might also look into change the size of hotbars with key actions and cooldowns!

You can also set any of your hotbars as visible or hidden, and their layout formats from a different menu. System > Character Configuration > Hotbar Settings (the fifth red and gold button in menu). From here, you can also toggle recast timers, displaying hotbar numbers, or even hiding unassigned slots within a visible hotbar. The latter option is very important, as it allows you to break up a single hotbar even further: if there’s no action assigned to a slot, it doesn’t exist. Use this to construct hotbars outside the norm. If you want one huge button for a single attack, “Hide unassigned slots” will help you do that.

FFXIV Character Config Hotbars

For most jobs at level 60 and above, you’ll want at least three hotbars visible. There are a total of 10 available. I personally have three main hotbars, and then an additional two hotbars in a vertical layout for my job switching icons and miscellaneous actions like mounts, sprinting, and teleport. 

Changing Your Keybindings

The next step is ensuring your hotbars have the correct keybindings. As we explained before, Hotbar 1 is set to each of the number keys from ‘1’ to ‘=’ by default, and Hotbar 2 is the same with Ctrl as a modifier. You don’t need to stick with this however.

Nearly everything in this guide is down to your personal preference, we’re just giving you guidelines to start; or a way to build on the starting foundation that Square Enix gives every player. Everyone plays differently. 

First, if you’ve played FFXIV for any length of time, you’ll probably notice an issue with the standard keybinds. Assuming mouse and keyboard controls and standard WASD movement, it may be difficult for some to access actions on the latter half of the hotbar. Hitting the keys beyond ‘6’ or ‘7’ requires you to move your hand a decent distance away from your movement keys. In a pitched Trial or raid, that could be a problem. 

FFXIV Hotbar Keybinds

Some players have simply adapted to this. Others use a hybrid of keyboard and mouse activation methods: pressing the hotkeys for ‘1’ through ‘5’, or ‘1’ through ‘6’, and then activating the latter actions with mouse clicks. I’m sure there’s even a scant few out there who mouse-click every action. Some even use the controller layout on PC (more on that at another time).

But you might not have thought of simply changing your keybindings. 

FFXIV Standard Keyboard
A rough layout of the standard keys on your keyboard.

So here’s the standard keyboard bindings that matter: hotbar hotkeys in red, movement in blue, and the modifier in yellow. But let’s expand on that a bit. First, while Ctrl is the default modifier, you can also use Shift and Alt if you so desire. These modifiers are bound to some other actions, like Alt and certain letter keys being set for certain chat commands, but you can rebind them if you want to. Adding Shift as a modifier, similar to Ctrl for the number keys, gives you easy access to actions on a third hotbar right off the bat. Note, you can also use the Numpad keys as keybinds!

FFXIV Hotbar Keybinds 2

To find the keybind menu, you’ll want to select System > Keybinds. For this guide specifically, there’s a tab within this menu for Hotbars. A keybind slot for every button on every hotbar is available here, though only the first two hotbars are assigned. To change a keybind, simply click on it, and press the key that you want to be bound to that slot. For the modifiers, hitting Ctrl, Shift, or Alt will have the system waiting for the additional key, so you can’t simply bind them by themselves. If you try to bind a keyset that’s already attached to around action, the system will give you a warning. (Here’s the default keybindings as a reference.)

So let’s talk about alternate keybindings.

The first set number keys—‘1’ through ‘5’, or ‘1’ through ‘6’ depending on your preference—are easily accessible, so most players keep them the same. For the latter set though, let’s get a little creative. 

The keys around the WASD movement keys are actually rather free for rebinding. There are a few default actions bound to them, but it’s generally useless fluff, like ‘F’ being bound to ‘Face Target’. Likewise, ‘Q’ and ‘E’ are bound to ‘Strafe Left’ and ‘Strafe Right’ but you can accomplish the same by using ‘A’ and ‘D’ while holding down the mouse button 2/right mouse button, which is your camera control. 

This opens up a number of keys for keybinding purposes (highlighted in white). Some or all of these keys can be used as replacements for ‘7’ and beyond, allowing you to hit these hotkeys without stretching your fingers that far from your WASD movement keys. The tilde key is also free for rebinding, though it might be a stretch for some.

FFXIV Keyboard Layout Changes
Some places you can find alternate keybindings.

The main focus here is finding out which keys are useful to you. I personally have my primary hotbar set in this order:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Q, E, R, F, Z, `

This replaces the hard-to-tech number keys and gives me access to the entire latter portion of the hotbar. I’ve also added Shift as a modifier, giving me access to another set of actions set to Hotbar 3. But that’s just one way of setting things up. You don’t even need to bind the entirety of a single hotbar, as you can spread keybindings across multiple hotbars since you have 10 to work with.

Other examples include

  • Example A, Hotbar 1: Q, E, R, F, C, X, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Example B, Hotbar 1: 1, 2, 3, 4, Q, E, R, C, V
  • Example C, Hotbar 1: 1, 2, 3, Q, E, F, R, T, Z, X, C

But what happens when you really dig in and customize your keybindings, hotbars, and modifiers, using every available hotbar? You can get something like this. And we can recommend something similar:

  • Hotbar 1: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Hotbar 2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Ctrl Modified)
  • Hotbar 3: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Shift Modified)
  • Hotbar 4: Q, E, R, F, G
  • Hotbar 5: Q, E, R, F, G (Ctrl Modified)
  • Hotbar 6: Q, E, R, F, G (Shift Modified)
  • Hotbar 7: Q, E, R, F, G (Alt Modified)
  • Hotbar 8: X, C, V (Shift Modified)
  • Hotbar 9: X, C, V (Alt Modified)

Now that probably only makes sense to the player who creates it, but that’s what will be comfortable and familiar to them. You have the flexibility to do whatever you want with your hotbars and keybindings to create a layout that’s perfect for you. Combined with the fact that you can put actions wherever you want in a hotbar, and you can really tailor your user interface to your playstyle. 

FFXIV Paladin Sheltron

Which Actions Go Where?

This question tends to come up frequently for new players or those who are new to a specific job. The short answer is: put your primary job actions where you can easily get to them.

You need to know the specifics of your job in order to set up your hotbars. You have to keep track of all of your standard combos, off-global cooldown actions, and other buffs and abilities. For that, you can look to our series of Job guides to help you out:

A quick rule of thumb is to put your primary weaponskill combos, or primary heals in the case of a healer, in the first part of your main hotbar. (It’s also smart to map sequential combos in numerical order, if it applies to your Job.) These are the actions you’ll be using the most, so you want them immediately at hand. Your second hotbar is a good place to put your off-global cooldown (oGCD) attacks and heals. Then you can place your buffs and clutch actions in a third hotbar. Using the modifiers like Ctrl, Shift, and Alt can allow you to shift to hotbars.

The big idea is to sensibly compartmentalize different types of actions, which will help organize a Job’s skillset and create muscle memory to make gameplay more intuitive.

FFXIV Gunbreaker Combo
A great offense is the best defense.

Let’s use the Gunbreaker as an example.

Hotbar 1 would start with Keen Edge, Brutal Shell, and Solid Barrel on keys 1, 2, and 3, because it’s the Gunbreaker’s standard sequential combo which fills your Job Gauge. After this, you could start placing your Continuation Combo, with Gnashing Fang, Jugular Rip, Savage Claw, Abdomen Tear, Wicked Talon, and Eye Gouge. That takes you up to slot 9. Incidental actions like Lightning Shot, your ranged pull, and Rough Divide, the gap closer, can fill out the rest of the hotbar if you want. 

Moving onto Hotbar 2, you could put Demon Slice and Demon Slaughter, the area-of-effect (AOE) combo, in slots 1 and 2. Assuming this bar is set with Ctrl as the modifier, this means Ctrl+1 and Ctrl+2 completes your AOE combo. You can fill out the hotbar with oGCD actions and combo fillers, like Burst Strike, Fated Circle, and Sonic Break

Then Hotbar 3 becomes the spot for all the Gunbreaker’s tanking tools. Rampart, Camouflage, Heart of Stone, Nebula, and Superbolide. Assuming these are set to the Alt modifier, using something like Heart of Stone is activated with Alt+3. Or you can mouse click them. 

Or what about a healing class like White Mage? Your primary actions are heals like Cure, Cure II, Cure III, Medica, Medica II, and Regen. ( and in later levels, you’ll want to prioritize Afflatus Solace and Afflatus Rapture on your hotbar.) Then on your second hotbar, you start laying out your buffs, like Thin Air, Presence of Mind, Surecast, Swiftcast, and Temperance. Finally on Hotbar 3, you’d put your damage abilities, including Glare, Dia, Holy, and Afflatus Misery. That’s just one example.

On a simpler level, you’re building a cake. Start with your foundational actions, and then put additional actions and buffs on top of that. Your hotbars are like your fingerprint in FFXIV. Your best bet is to find a training dummy, and spend a good 30 minutes to an hour just testing out keybinds and action placement. Experiment and play around until you find something that works for you. You can get truly bizarre if that’s what makes sense for your playstyle.

ffxiv lightning crystal farm


That’s a lot of above, and if you just want the boilerplate rules in regards to keybindings, here you go.

    • Use keybinds that are close to your movement keys (WASD). This includes the first few number keys (1-6), and letter keys like Q, E, R, F, Z, X, C, and V, which aren’t bound to many useful functions by default. 
    • Once you have a small number of keys you’re used to hitting, use modifiers like Ctrl, Alt, and Shift to expand your available keybinds.
    • Consider using multiple hotbars, at least three to start.
    • Keybinds can be different and varied for each hotbar.
    • Hotbars can be different sizes! Use this to highlight important actions and cooldowns.
    • Put your most frequently-used actions and combos first on your primary hotbar!
    • Layer your oGCD actions and buffs on top of that, using other hotbars, but keeping those actions on easily accessible keys. 
    • Clicking on some skills is fine!
    • The most important thing: Find the keybinds and hotbar layout that’s most comfortable for you. Your comfort and ease of use is key.