There is a good chance that you will want at least some of your addons with you on the PTR, such as Recount for DPS testing. If you are like me, you also will have limited patience and time for reconfiguring your addons to your exact specifications from scratch. This post offers help with these issues, explaining how to import both your addons and your addons’ settings to the ptr.
1. Make Some Preparations
Log on to the PTR if you have not already. I recommend this because it is fairly common to run into errors on the PTR. Logging on once or a few times and playing a bit can help you establish a working baseline, that is, knowledge that the PTR works fine for you without addons. With that settled, you can be fairly confident that if repeated errors do show up when you load with the addons that it is an addon problem rather than something else. Logging in once also creates some of the folders that you will need to work with in subsequent steps.
Also, you may find it useful to save your current addon settings as profiles if you have not done this already. Addons commonly have options to name, save and copy a character’s settings as one distinct profile. Saving clearly-named profiles on live will make importing some addon settings to the PTR easy later on.
2. Locate Both World of Warcraft Folders
From your PTR installation and previous manual addon installations (or just finding your screenshots) you should know where these are already. Running a search also finds them easily enough. The folder for live servers is called World of Warcraft and the folder for test servers is called World of Warcraft Public Test.
3. Copy Your Addons
Your live addons are located in World of Warcraft > Interface > Addons. Copy whichever addons you wish to transfer and place them in their parallel location in the test folder: World of Warcraft Public Test > Interface > Addons. It is fine to just do a single copy+paste with a whole Addons folder so long as you remove any redundant folders (for example, an extra, empty Addons folder).
With these changes made you should be able to see an “addons” button in the lower left corner of the PTR’s character selection screen if you sign in. If you click on that button, select those addons you want to use and enable outdated addons (if necessary), you should then be able to log in on a character and have access to your selected addons in an unconfigured state. If all you want is Recount, it may be faster to just stop at this step and make some quick in-game configurations. However, if you still want to transfer your settings, read on.
4. Copy Portions of Your WTF Folder
The WTF folder houses your settings, importantly including your addon profiles. It is located at World of Warcraft > WTF.
Open the file and notice that there is an Account folder and a file named Config. Copy that Config file to the parallel location in the test server WTF folder. This config file controls broad settings, such as your video settings, whether you play in windowed or full screen mode, etc. Transferring this file is helpful for any UI configurations (like unit frames) that are based around a particular screen size.
Next head further into the live WTF folder by going into Account and then Accountname (whatever yours is). There you will see a folder for each live server that you have created characters on and also a SavedVariables folder. Below the folders there are various OLD, WTF, MDS, etc. files. Copy the SavedVariables folder. Paste it into World of Warcraft Public Test > WTF > Account > Accountname. Make sure to delete the folder of the same name that is already there from when you logged on for a test run. This process transfers over things like your addon profiles. The test realm Accountname you see will likely be gibberish because, as I understand it, Blizzard creates dummy accounts for the PTR.
Next, go further into the live folder set: World of Warcraft > WTF > Account > Accountname > Servername > Charname. Here, Servername and Charname are the server and name of the character that you transferred to the PTR. In this character folder you will find another SavedVariables folder. Do the same thing as before but placing it into the parallel position in the PTR’s charname folder. This action transfers character-specific settings including, I think, the configurations for addons that do not store settings as profiles. For example, my Needtoknow settings did not carry over without transferring this character-specific SavedVariables folder. As a side note, you may also wish to copy the text file Addons which details which addons you have enabled for this character and which you don’t, so that you don’t have to make a bunch of selections later on.
5. Log on to the PTR
Be prepared to try signing/logging on a few times before it takes. I have gone through the procedure above a few times and each time it appears to work differently. Sometimes it goes off without a hitch. Others, it takes a few login attempts before things go smoothly. If it fails to work, remember that you need only delete the PTR’s WTF and Addons folders to get back to your working baseline.
Before going on to your character, make sure you enable desired addons (taken care of if you copy the Addons text file) and enable out of date addons (if necessary) by clicking on the “addons” button in the lower left of the PTR’s character selection screen. Once you login, you will likely see many of your addons all in an unconfigured state. Don’t worry. Go to these addons’ respective configuration menus and copy the settings profiles of your character’s live version. This done, your PTR UI should look just like your live UI.
There, you now know how to transfer your addons and their settings to the PTR. You also know that when a Blizzard rep tells you to delete your WTF folder in the process of trying to fix a bug that you should not do it. That is where all your config settings are! Instead, cut the folder out and place it somewhere else for safekeeping so that you don’t have to redo all your settings manually later.