Beginner’s Tutorial/Guide

This tutorial is for people who are new to minecraft and/or don’t know how to play.


The default keys for movement are as follows:

  • W move forward
  • S move backward
  • A move left (strafe)
  • D move right (strafe)
  • Space jump
  • Left shift crouch/sneak
(Although these can be reassigned from within the options menu, press Escape)

The mouse is used to look around and your avatar will move in the direction you look.

The mouse buttons are used to interact with the world. Left generally destroys items, while right generally places/uses items. The mouse wheel selects the currently held item in your inventory hot bar, or you can use the number keys 1 to 9 I opens your inventory window and Q will throw a held item.

Initial priorities

There are many ways to play Minecraft, as it is a sandbox game. However as hostile mobs spawn in the dark, it is best on the first day to build a lit shelter before nightfall. You can, if you wish, forgo building a shelter and attack any hostiles you encounter, however this is not advised on your first night as your lack of resources (weapons, food, etc) will mean you will probably be overwhelmed by mobs.

While you are making your preparations for nightfall, keep an eye on the sun. When you first start a world it is early morning. Just like our Terran Sun, it rises in the East and sets in the West. At midday it will be directly above you.

Work quickly — a Minecraft day is only about ten minutes.

The essentials

However you approach your first night, you will need at least wood and coal for a fighting chance.

To collect resources you point at the block representing the resource and press and HOLD the left mouse button. This will instruct your avatar to punch the item repeatedly. Cracks will gradually appear in the item. Keep holding the left mouse button until the block breaks. You can collect the item by moving near its spinning representation. It should then appear in your inventory.


Wood is obtained from tree trunks, while coal is mined from stone blocks and requires you to first craft a pickaxe. Coal blocks broken by hand will not produce coal. Wood is used in the crafting of tools.

After collecting around ten to twenty pieces of wood you can craft your first item.

Craft a workbench

Crafting is core to Minecraft. While you can craft some items in your inventory, you will need a workbench to craft tools and other items.

To craft a workbench first open your inventory (press I) and click on your collection of wood:

minecraft wood

Then place that in your 2×2 crafting square in your inventory. This will produce planks:

minecraft planks

Left clicking on the plank icon will craft four planks for every one piece of wood you have. Click on the plank icon and move it to your inventory. Click on the remaining wood in your 2×2 crafting square and return it to your inventory. Click on the planks you just crafted and instead of left clicking, right click once in each of your four crafting squares. This drops one item instead of all items each click.

You should see this:

minecraft workbench

Click on the result and place it in an empty square of your hotbar.

Press escape to return to the world view and walk to a spot you think appropriate, select your newly crafted workbench with either the mouse wheel or number key, point at a flat square of ground and right click. This will place your workbench on the ground ready for use. If you wish to pick it up again to move it, left click and hold to punch it to pieces and pick up its spinning icon.

Craft a pickaxe

As mentioned above, in order to collect coal, you will need a pickaxe. Your fist pickaxe will be made of wood, not very durable, but until you collect some stone it’s all you have.

You will need at least four planks to make one wooden pickaxe. Use your workbench by right clicking on where you placed it. Your workbench view is similar to your inventory view, except you now have a more useful 3×3 crafting space. First we need to make a handle for your pickaxe. To do this pick up a stack of planks and place one above another anywhere in your crafting square. Two planks produces four sticks:

minecraft sticks

Pick up your sticks and clear your workbench if there’s anything left in there. Now place one stick each in positions 5 and 8, and one plank each in positions 1, 2 and 3. You should now be able to add a pickaxe to your inventory:

minecraft wood pick

You may have noticed that in order to craft a pickaxe, you virtually draw it with its components in your crafting square. [[Other items are crafted in a similar fashion.

Coal and stone

Now that you have a pickaxe, you can scrounge for some coal. Unless you are lucky and have some coal right where you’re standing, you’re about to go for a walk. So pick up your workbench and store it in your inventory for later.

Coal is found amongst stone blocks either in stone outcrops on the sides of hills or deeper underground. Wander around, keeping close to your spawnpoint, keeping an eye out for the tell tale sign of coal ore:

minecraft coal ore

Once you have located some, make sure that you are holding your pickaxe and collect as much as possible, keeping an eye on the time of day — depending on how long your search was, it is probably close to nightfall by this stage. Also it’s a good chance to collect some cobblestone which will be handy for crafting more durable tools. Bash at some plain stone around the coal with your pickaxe to collect some.

A word about digging

One of the immutable rules of Minecraft is:

Do not dig straight down

It is possible stand on a block and destroy it. Once it’s destroyed you will fall down one block to whatever is beneath it. Bare in mind this might be thin air. You could fall into a deep dark cavern, not only suffering fall damage, and being in the dark, but be beset upon by all kinds of hostile mobs who reside underground.

Another one of the immutable rules of Minecraft is:

Do not dig straight up

Again, it’s perfectly possible to do, but if you don’t know what’s above you, you might find yourself dropped upon by a mob, or buried under sand or gravel which unlike other blocks, obeys gravity and suffocates those it falls on.

Strike a light

Initially your sole light source at night will be torches. These are made from coal and sticks. You don’t need a workbench to make torches, they can be made in your inventory or on a workbench.

Make some sticks from planks as required and place coal above sticks in your crafting squares as follows:

minecraft torch

One piece of coal and one stick make four torches. You can place multiple quantities on your crafting squares and each left click of the result will use one set of ingredients.

Now that you have the means to craft and a means of light, it’s time to find a hole to cower in for the night.

Build a shelter

There are several ways to construct a shelter. You can either build one in the open from materials you collect (dirt, wood, stone), you can close in the mouth of a cave, hole or other naturally occurring hollow, or you can dig a hollow in the side of a hill or make a hole in the ground. — Be careful around cave entrances, as hostiles often lurk in those even during the day.

Whatever method you choose might be dependant on your surroundings, what you have managed to collect, how much time you have until nightfall and your fancy; however it must have these key features:

  • Light. Mostly so you can see what you’re doing. If you are in a sufficiently small area (less than 25 square radius) hostiles cannot spawn next to you (despite what you’ve read elsewhere). So even if you fail to find coal on your first day, you can make a small rudimentary shelter to see out the night.
  • Walls. Hostiles cannot deal you damage, or shoot arrows at you through walls.
  • No big holes. It’s a good idea to leave a hole high up in a wall so you can see when the morning breaks. However be aware that you can be shot at through a hole, some hostiles can drop through holes in roofs if they can get up there, and spiders can crawl through one block high holes if they can gain access. So choose the position with care. An alternative it a one block high outer wall, with an over hanging roof, and a one block high “window” so you can see outside. Then an full height internal wall that you can duck behind in case of skeletons who can shoot at you through your window.
  • A safe crafting area to place your workbench. To pass the time waiting for morning you might want to craft a few more tools for the next day. Initially consider making a few stone pickaxes if you were able to collect anycobblestone during the day, more torches, and definately a sword. If you have encounters with hostiles during the night, you can deal more damage with a sword. Swords are crafted from one stick (not two) and two items for the blade. You can use planks or cobblestone if you managed to mine any along with your coal.

So depending on what time you have left, what your surroundings provide, and what you have managed to collect, choose to either dig into the side of a hill, dig a small hole, or build a shelter from materials you have collected. Remember not to dig straight down (see above).

For example, to build a simple 5x5x3 hut you’ll need 73 blocks of dirt, wood, stone or a combination of those items (less a few for doors or windows). Digging a hole in the side of a cliff is usually a good method as you collect cobblestone at the same time as hollowing your chamber. Watch out that you don’t connect to a cave system, while knocking out a wall. If you do, it’s probably best to brick it up with dirt or cobblestone until you’re prepared to venture in there.

Once built, you can light your shelter by right clicking on a wall or floor while holding a torch.

If you have six spare planks, you can even make a door for your shelter. When placing it make sure you place the door from the outside of your house as doors have direction. Skeletons can shoot at you from an inward facing door.

Waiting until morning

Enjoy your night. You can either cower in your hole or venture out with your sword and take your chances with the mobs. If you do, stay away from the walls of your shelter in case a Creeper follows you and decides to explode, destroying your shelter.

Once the sun rises, your trouble aren’t completely over. Zombies and skeletons will eventually catch fire in the sunlight and burn, spiders and creepers still wander about in the morning, so keep your sword at hand when you venture out.

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