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This page has information about the different types of the World of Warcraft game client that exist, and the patches needed to bring a base installation up to date in order to become playable.

Game client types

Besides the platform (PC, Mac), there are at least 2 different types of the game client: The US version and the European version of the game. Maybe there are even more types of game clients out there, but if so I am not aware of them (which means nothing).

The type of the game client that you have determines where you can login, and ultimately which characters and realms you can see and use. For instance, I am at home on the European realm Malfurion, so if I want to play there I have no choice but to use the European version of the game client. It is no problem to install and use the US version of the client, even though I am at home in Europe, but this client will always connect and login to the US servers - which means that

  1. I need a separate account on those US servers
  2. I will have to create new characters with this account
  3. Even with the new characters, I will not be able to play on Malfurion because this realm is available on the European servers only

Expansions and patches vs. Game client types

It is required that the game client and the game server always have matching versions. When Blizzard releases a new patch, they first install that patch on their servers, and subsequently force all players to update their clients to the matching version. A client that is not updated will not be able to play anymore.

When you manually download a patch, it is very important that you select the correct version of the patch that matches the type of the game client that you have. If you play with the European version of the game client, you must also download and install the European version of the patch. Patches do not always appear at the same time for the US and for the European version of the game client, so you may have to wait for the European patch to be released even though the US patch is already available.

Expansions such as "The Burning Crusade" (TBC) and "Wrath of the Lich King" (WotLK) simply mark a change of the major version number of the game client. The original game had 1.x.x version numbers, TBC had 2.x.x version numbers, and WotLK has 3.x.x version numbers. It can be expected that Cataclysm will have 4.x.x version numbers.

Upgrading the license

TBC and WotLK base installations that are both upgraded via incremental patches to the latest game client version are not the same installations. The reason for this is that the TBC base installation is missing a few files (e.g. lichking.mpq), and unlike what you might expect the incremental patches will not create those files if they are not present.

When you upgrade your license from TBC to WotLK, you therefore will have to somehow provide those missing files before you can access the new content (i.e. Northrend). Blizzard does not provide some sort of "license patch" which would be relatively small and provide only those missing files. Although unfortunate, this is understandable if you think about the issues and messy upgrade paths that would be the result.

The consequence is that you have to download a full new game client (16 GB for WotLK at the time of writing), create a base installation from this download, and then re-apply all the incremental patches until you are again up to date.

Current game client version

To see the exact version (including the build number) of the game client that is currently installed:

  1. Launch the game
  2. Look at the lower-left corner of the screen


  • This page has a complete list with all patches for the Mac version of the game
    • Note: The page is no longer being updated with patches past 3.3.3a.
  • WoWWiki has a list of available patches, and where they can be downloaded. Notes:
    • The mirrors listed on WoWWiki tend to have only the PC version of the game. Be sure to check this for each desired patch, for instance the mirrors did have the Mac version of patch 4.0.1!
    • The patch size listed on WoWWiki is not accurate; for instance the "3.x.x -> 3.2.0" patch is listed as being "~1.2-1.6 GiB" in size, but I have downloaded a patch with size ~370 MB. Maybe the sizes differ because I download patches for the Mac version of the game
  • WoWWiki lists the following article on the Blizzard support site as the official list for downloadable patches: Notes:
    • The article lists mirror sites where the patches can be downloaded from (i.e. you don't download directly from the Blizzard site)
    • When I last checked, the patches for updating from 2.3.0 to 2.3.3 were missing, though


The following table lists all "enGB" patches for the Mac version of the European game client. The patches are incremental, i.e. they need to be applied one after the other.

Target version Size Notes 4.6 GB Full game, TBC 574 MB 39 MB 56 MB 10 MB 8.7 MB 746 MB 4.1 MB 3 MB 13 MB 3.4 MB 372 MB 3.9 MB 60.2 MB 4.1 MB 646.7 MB 8 MB 179.9 MB 151.2 MB 4.1 MB 25.2 MB 11.7 MB 5.3 GB

Patch Notes


The offficial Blizzard statement can be found in this forum thread.

The upgrade from to 4.0.1 is a multi-stepped procedure

  • First there is an upgrade to
    • This upgrade migrates installations from the current 3.x layout to a new 4.x layout.
    • Among other things, this migration will change the updating system to a "streaming" scheme, i.e. under 4.x updates will be installed via a streaming mechanism that downloads updating data in parallel while playing the game
    • The actual upgrade is divided into 4 stages
    • Apparently it is possible to download each stage separately instead of downloading a single huge, all-in-one, multi-GB update file
    • I did not research this multi-stage stuff, instead I downloaded the single update file from
    • To use this update
      • Start World of Warcraft
      • This will download and then run
      • The Downloader application creates a file wow-patch.MPQ and in the Updates folder creates a number of empty files
tharbad:/Applications/World of Warcraft/Updates --> l
total 7792
drwxr-xr-x   9 spielen  staff      306 17 Okt 15:24 .
drwxr-xr-x  20 spielen  staff      680 17 Okt 15:24 ..
-rwxr-xr-x   1 spielen  staff        0 17 Okt 15:24 Installer Tome.MPQ.part
-rwxr-xr-x   1 spielen  staff  3978485 17 Okt 15:24 WoW-
-rwxr-xr-x   1 spielen  staff        0 17 Okt 15:24 WoW-
-rwxr-xr-x   1 spielen  staff        0 17 Okt 15:24 WoW-
drwxr-xr-x   3 spielen  staff      102 17 Okt 15:24
-rwxr-xr-x   1 spielen  staff        0 17 Okt 15:24 WoW-x.x.x.x-
      • After the update file has finished downloading, unzip the file's content into the Updates folder (overwriting all of the empty files)
      • Run the Downloader application - it will first verify the integrity of the patch files, then launch the updater application that has been downloaded as part of the update file
      • If the updater application does not launch, you first need to fix permissions within the application package:
chmod +x "/Applications/World of Warcraft/Updates/"
  • The second upgrade to takes place via the new streaming mechanism