I know that Blizzard removed item sets from Diablo III to prevent shenanigans like swapping into a Magic Find set just before landing the last hit on a boss.

However, the same reasoning doesn't apply to skills. That has got me wondering - is there a way to swap your equipped skills without bringing up the full screen skill menu (default Hotkey S)?

Quite often I find myself with only AoE spells selected and I come up against a big boss with a huge health pool. I want to switch to a more focused single-target spell. Obviously this will incur the cooldown, which I am fine with. But too often I have to stand still for the 3ish seconds it takes to bring up the Skill menu, select the skill, choose a rune, and close out, which leaves me vulnerable to getting squashed.

Is there a faster way to switch your active spells?

  • There's always cheating and using a macro program :p Of course, that still involves opening the menu.
    – Muhd
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 23:41
  • Are there keyboard shortcuts to change active skills? I know you can bring up the menu with S but I haven't seen a way to choose abilities. If there is, that would be a perfect answer to my question!
    – dpatchery
    Commented May 19, 2012 at 0:28
  • 4
    While it's your rep to do with as you please, I have to say that I find the idea of a bounty because you aren't happy with the answer to your question to be kind of silly and futile. Commented May 25, 2012 at 2:36
  • I really miss how the S hotkey worked on Diablo 2 (list of skills, just icon). But you might understand that since we can equip runes on skills, a 'short'version of skill window would be yet too big.
    – RaphaelDDL
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 4:06
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    Keep in mind that on Inferno you should avoid changing active skills because it resets your Nephalem Valor!
    – Sadly Not
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


Just about the only thing you can do to speed up the skill switching process is to right click on the skill you'd like to change. By doing this you'll jump directly to the skill selection for that key, bypassing one page of the menus you'd normally click through.

This is the only way to speed up the process of changing skills. There is no other way to automate or hotkey skill selection in Diablo 3. It must be done through this menu.

Any 'out of the box solution' would require, at a minimum, the use of some form of third party macro or automation software, a clear violation of Diablo III's Terms of Use. While such violations are not always detectable or acted on, the possibility of action against your account and revocation of your license to play would give me extreme pause in considering any other solution.


Currently, there is no faster way to switch the skills. Most likely, this is precisely to prevent what you're trying to do. If Blizzard wanted us to be able to use that many different abilites live during combat, they would've given us more than 6 skills at a time.

On the upside: This makes actual "talent building" and combat preparation for a certain fight pretty important, since you can't rush through the entire game with the same build anymore (at least on higher difficulties), which is a welcome strategic element, in my opinion.

From my perspective it now seems like this is likely something that Blizzard just hasn't focused that much time on, or they weren't able to come up with a better solution. Clearly it would've been possible to achieve the same goals, while keeping the same restrictions and also while making the lifes of players a little more comfortable.

E.g., they could've allowed for Diablo-style skill-switching and just raised the cooldown of newly set abilities that you have to wait for when you want to use them, in order to counterbalance the fact that players are able to switch skills more quickly.

  • 2
    I agree that preselecting skills is important, and the cooldown incurred when swapping skills goes miles to accomplishing that aspect of the game. I just find it hard to believe that letting the player get stuck in menus during battle was an intended mechanic to dissuade skill swapping. It feels clunky. But maybe that's just me.
    – dpatchery
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 13:12
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    Indeed. The system used be at a point where you had to go back into town to switch skills, but that proved bothersome if you just wanted to change something for one fight. I think Blizzard just chose the middle-ground, here.
    – heishe
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 13:13
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    @dpatchery The intent was not to have you stuck in UI during battle; the intent was for you to not switch skills during battle. They didn't optimize for the case they don't want you doing.
    – Mag Roader
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 20:34
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    @MagRoader Understood, but I still do it. As a programmer, if I don't want a user to do something, I prevent it outright. I don't make it inconvenient and annoying.
    – dpatchery
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 20:40
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    I don't believe that Blizzard made the system inconvenient to discourage you from switching skills in combat. I believe that Blizzard didn't build an improved UI because it wasn't worth the time to do so. And, unless Blizzard decides to allow addons in Diablo 3, I suspect that this is going to remain the same way for the rest of this game's life.
    – KOVIKO
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 3:30

Blizzard did not intend for it to be easy to switch skills, therefore, there is no quick interface for doing so, though as LessPop_MoreFizz points out, changing one skill can be made somewhat faster by right-clicking the skill icon, instead of opening the skill menu with S.

Eventually, the biggest disadvantage to swapping skills is not the time that it takes, or the cool-down: at level 60, when the Nephalem Valor buff becomes available, it's very important to not switch skills when facing a boss: if you've killed 5 rare packs (without swapping skills) before going after the boss, then swapping skills before the boss would result in five fewer items dropped by the boss, and -75% magic (and gold) find.

Swapping against normal enemies or rare/champion packs won't reduce the actual number of drops, but will still lose you 75% magic find and 75% gold find that you could have from Nephalem Valor.

In other words, the game is built to reward players who pick a build and stick with it, so learning to swap skills quickly is not particularly helpful.

Instead, I'd recommend looking either for a single build that's well suited to all situations, or, if you regularly play with the same group, you could also consider specializing in a role, e.g. crowd control, dps, or tanking, and have another group member take a specialty that can make up for your weak points, rather than swapping to a different build when your weak point comes up, and losing significant portions of your loot.

  • Do you have sources ?
    – Robotsushi
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 5:47
  • @Robotsushi Sources for what? The fact that Nephalem Valor is wiped after changing skills? It's an extremely well publicized aspect of the mechanic. Just google 'Nephalem Valor' and you should see it mentioned in more than half of the links that come up on the first page of results. Commented May 28, 2012 at 14:19

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