When I'm building up my base, I sometimes find myself wasting time trying to get a single worker off of my resource line so that I can build something. I often miss or have to chase after them if I'm trying to single click, and dragging often selects more than one, at which point I have to try again or click on one in the selected units list. It seems like it would be best to grab one right after it's returned its resource and is heading back for another, but they're also moving the fastest at this point. It's easier to grab them while they're mining, but then they're carrying resources around and this feels wasteful. Is this minor optimization unnecessary, or am I missing something? Should I just keep a dedicated builder idle for easy selection (as terran or protoss)? Put one on a hotkey?

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    sigh. no chance of hotkeying a worker for us zerg players. our workers really put their 'all' into each building. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 17:49
  • @Peter but we can smart cast a bunch of buildings and not have to worry about queuing up other commands.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 23:35
  • @tzenes true. and then (if you're me) wonder why our income is so low, and finally remember to crank out a bunch more drones :) Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 15:19
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    @Peter my zerg strategy is as follows: Never stop building drones. Its a little out there, I know, but I find it serves me well.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 17:24

8 Answers 8


So obviously selecting 1 is better than a group, but a little known fact:

Workers smart cast!

This means if you select a group of workers and try to build something, the nearest worker (and only him) will go to build the building. Additionally if you build more than one thing, the two nearest will go to do the task. This means you don't need to worry about selecting more than one (provided you don't issue any move orders), just select the group and build away!

  • @Kyralessa the other 3 (who aren't building) have the action of "harvest" until they are finished with it (all patches are empty) they won't follow the queued command; so there is no real loss.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 15, 2010 at 4:41
  • @tzenes I think what she's asking is "how do you handle sending the SCVs who are building back to the mineral line when they're done?"
    – McKay
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 21:27
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    Actually you should never take advantage of smart casting due to the fact that when you select the worker you should not have the minerals ready needed to build the building. Usually it works like this: You select the worker and bring him in position, timing it so that only once he reaches the desired building spot you have enough minerals to start building. If you wait for your workers to be able to smart-cast the building you'll have unspent resources and be slower..
    – Tigraine
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 23:22
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    @Tigraine I 100% agree with you. If you are a top player you should never have enough minerals to build what you want when you select a worker. On the other hand if you are a player who has trouble selecting one of his workers from the mineral line, chances are smart casting will really help you.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 23:32
  • @McKay She's asking that if you select 5, tell 2 to build and queue up the action of going to a single mineral patch, will the workers who aren't building all head to the same patch. The answer is no. They will finish their current action before following the queued command. Since their current action is "harvest" not, "harvest 5 minerals" or "harvest only from this one patch," they won't finish that task until all minerals are gone, at which point the queued command is no longer valid.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 23:34

Don't select all your workers and use smart cast, make sure you only grab workers that are on minerals. You don't want to pull a worker from gas and then later put him back on minerals. You'll be short a worker on gas, which is very easy to miss.

In the early game, when there isn't that much to do, you should get used to selecting a worker individually on his way back from mining, then watch him drop his resources off, and then tell him to build. This is better than smart casting. Later on when you've got a lot to do this'll be way too time intensive, so at that point you can switch to using smart casting.

Also, tell your worker to build the building, and then shift right click on your minerals. That way he'll go back to mining the moment he's done, which means no time is wasted.

  • This is not as much of an issue anymore, as the extractor/assimilator/refinery shows how many workers are working in it.
    – Murch
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 23:33

No, don't have any builder idle if you can help it. Really I just single click, I know you tried this but I would guess that is the best way to get just one. Just spam click if you have to until you get one, eventually you'll get better at aiming anyways.

Another note: If you hit F1 it will select a worker who is doing nothing!

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    Note: A worker should never be doing nothing is part of a winning strategy Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:33

I do the shift-cntl f1 at game beginning to select all probes and send them to mine.

Then I select 1-2-3 probes and put them in groups 1 2 and 3, which serves as builder, expansion, scout as the game goes on.


After watching a lot of starcraft 2 replays, I've learned to single-click a worker early in the game and bind him to a hotkey for whenever I need him. Although having read that workers smart-cast, I may stop doing this and just double-click to select them all.

  • Since workers are generally continuously moving, ctrl+clicking may be easier to select them all. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 14:20

What you can do is set up one worker to a bind Ctrl + 1-9 Then every time you press just 1 and it selects that unit.

This can be done with any unit, therefore a lot of people use it for their Void Rays etc etc


Using the Hotkey has the advantage of being able to build things while your workers are not visible on the screen.

I just bind 3 (sometimes more) workers to a hotkey.


One note to make if you select 5 workers and hit B(build) S(supply depot) and click where to build only 1 scv will go to build it even though you selected 5. Obviously this still works no matter what you build but you don't have to just select one you can select any number of them and just give one command. Each command you give after that the next one will go and do the building.

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    I know you're new, but please try to read through the answers before posting. You'd notice someone wrote this 12 hours before you...
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 15:47

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