I run a custom keybind so my spacebar fires energy weapons, distributes shields and depending on my ship/setup activates (cycles) two copies emergency power to shields for 100% uptime on shield power and resistances there.
If I'm in a cruiser my spacebar will also cycle 2 copies of emergency power to weapons. In an escort/bop my spacebar will also have weapons buffs like attack pattern beta, cannon rapid fire, tac team and beam overload cycling so I don't have to do everything manually.
Only time I have autofire on an energy weapon is so my torpedos which are on autofire know to start autofiring if that makes sense, on escort/bop though I prefer all energy build so no torps there.
Ah they joys of keybinding for a lazy bugger like me.
Man is a gaming animal. He must always be trying to get the better in something or other.
Warning, this poster tends to talk nonsensically when caffine levels fall below 80%.
On my ship, I use autofire, but I turn it off for STFs if we're running the 10% rule (then turn it back on once the gens are down).
I used to use the hot keys, but I blow up less frequently when I have autofire set... guess it gives me more time to look around and find the bad guys. That and the ship movement buttons are on the same side of the keyboard as the usual "fire weapons" buttons, and if I change anything I'll just confuse myself.
On ground I use the hot keys. Movement there can be done with the arrows, so I can run and shoot with no problems. (And even though I keep hearing there's ground autofire, I can't get it to work anyway.)
I use a macro on my G13 that continually presses space (every 0.5 sec) bound to "GenSendMessage HUD_Root FirePhasers $$ +power_exec Distribute_Shields" as a on/of toggle macro, this in-turn lets me time me firing my torps and main abilities during combat using my thumb keys on my naga mouse.
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I run auto-fire on all but my torps, As I like to fire my torps manually after I use full spread or volley. Rather than waiting for a torp to reload, then oh crap I forgot to push full spread and now I have to wait for them to reload again.
It gives me greater control over them and I fire them when an enemies shield/shields are down, giving me better dmg.
Having your energy weapons on auto-fire is IMO the correct method. Because you don't want to be trying to manually firing them, as well as hitting the hotkeys, turning your ship and turning your camera angle to look around. It can cause more problems, but thats my opinion. Kudos to those that can do all that and not make any mistakes.