When my Refinery finishes in the heat of battle, I don't have time to manually find 3 workers that aren't holding any minerals.

What is the optimal way to transfer 3 workers from minerals to gas without sacrificing any minerals?

  • Just a note that even if you send 3 workers at the same time, only one probe can be inside the gas building at the same time so the other two will be waiting for a bit. Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 17:12

7 Answers 7


I found what I think is actually the best answer while browsing the Team Liquid forums:

The most efficient way is to select any 3 workers, right click on the gas, then immediately hit C (return cargo). Workers that are holding minerals will drop off their minerals, and then proceed to gas. Meanwhile, workers without minerals will head straight for the gas!

  • 2
    ohhh, nice. I like that.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 14:45
  • 2
    I tried this out today. It worked wonders. Best answer to this question. Commented Aug 14, 2010 at 3:55
  • 2
    OH.. I always thought they will return to mine minerals again!
    – Jake
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 4:31
  • Almost 8 years later and this answer is still amazingly helpful!
    – Math1000
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 9:06

It depends on what you mean by "not lose minerals"

If you do it manually, you'll take about 2 seconds, and you can lose zero minerals.

If you don't do it manually, statistically, you'll have one who is walking to gather (A), one who is walking back with minerals in hand (B), and one who is in the middle of gathering (C). (As they spend about a third of their time on each task)

Option 1:
If you're in the middle of the battle and need the absolute most amount of time you just have them all start going to the gas:

  • (A) will not lose any minerals
  • (B) will lose 5 minerals (the minerals in his hands at the time)
  • (C) will "lose" (on average) 2.5 minerals. (it isn't really "lost" because the next guy will get it, but you've lost the time it took for that worker to start, but not finish mining)

Option 2: If you have a brief instant of reprieve, but need to get back on the battlefield, you can save 5 minerals from option 1, by sending (B) back to the base. The quickest way to do that is by ordering "return with goods". This is better then sending them all back to the base, because only the one with minerals will run back. Immediately after issuing the "return with goods / return cargo" command, shift right click on the geyser, and that will queue a command to the geyser, which for the other two will be executed instantly. This can be done in one instant, because the return with goods command can be issued by the keyboard hand, while the mouse hand will be moving to issue the command to the geyser.

Option 3: If you have a little bit longer, select only those that are going back to mining, that way you lose no minerals at all, nor even time wasted mining.

It does depend on how urgent you need to get back to the battle, but if the battle is so important that it can't be delayed by a couple seconds, the gas can probably wait.

  • 1
    What's the hotkey to return the goods? Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:58
  • +1 for mentioning return with goods menu item.
    – macek
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 21:51
  • @CarlClover... hover over the icon?
    – SeanJA
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 5:23
  • 1
    it depends on your keybindings, typically "C" "return [C]argo"
    – McKay
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 15:35

What I usually do is quickly grab the group that is nearest to the gas, shift click the excess workers then shift click my 3 to the Nexus/Command Center/Hatchery then shift click to the gas. This will tell them to drop off any minerals they have (no wasting) and then go mine gas.

shift + click = queueing commands. So you are telling the worker to finish mining -> drop off minerals -> mine gas

  • This usually, though sometimes I'll come up 1 short have to grab an extra one.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:33
  • While you don't actually "lose" minerals using this method, you do lose time on two fronts. See my answer for more details.
    – McKay
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:39

Usually, when your gas is depleted, naturally, you would have idle workers.

Here is what I do: On top of Mark's answer, if you have idle workers then you can press F1 to select an idle worker. However, if you hold CTRL + F1 then it will select ALL idle workers. So assuming you do not have any other idle workers, and when your gas is depleted then you can just press CTRL + F1 and select the 3 idle workers.


What I do is set the command center's rally point to the refinery and build 3 more.

I don't know if this counts as "sacrificing materials", but in my opinion, you can never have enough workers.

  • so true. Full Saturation is 30 workers, and by the time you hit that number you can transfer to an expo
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:33
  • 1
    While I like this option, I tend to forget that I've set the rally point to the geyser, and I end up sending more than 3 workers to the geyser, which results in more wasted time.
    – McKay
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 20:43
  • Juan Manuel, this means that you need to wait for each of those 3 works to be created. I think you'll waste less time using McKay's option 2 and get gas faster. Then, if you need to replenish the workers you took from the mineral fields, you just hotkey your command center and fire off some more workers that are always set to rally to the minerals.
    – macek
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 21:53

The easiest manual way to do it would be to just select three workers and get Ctrl+1-9 them. This will then bind them to a key. Quickly click on the nearest base to the workers, this will allow them to drop any minerals that they are carrying. If your battling and cant watch them, when you see the "Workers not working" button appear on the left hand side of your screen press 1-9 depending on what HotKey you selected and then click on your refinery. This would result in no loss in minerals, via them being dropped.

  • What is the purpose of binding them to a control group?
    – macek
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 21:54
  • I bind at least one to a control group so that if I'm not on view of my base, I can select one and check through building's and place. At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and what you can do the quickest.
    – Vibralux
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 22:40

I usually just draw a small rectangle close to the command center/hatch/nexus and keep the mouse button down until there are at least workers 3 in it. Then i quickly right-click on the cc/hatch/nexus in case they carried anything and then i send them to the refinery. If i got more than 3 (usually i don't, but sometimes i get a fourth worker) then after sending all to the refinery i pick the excess workers in the selected units list and send them to work on the minerals again. This takes roughly 1-3 seconds, depending on how many workers you have and how good you are at figuring out where the 3 workers will be easiest to capture.

It's easier and faster to rectangle-select more and remove the unnecessary ones than it's to select them one-by-one when they are moving.

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