How-To Geek

How to Add Custom Worlds to Your Minecraft Realms Server

Although there is something to be said for starting with a fresh map, it’s easy (and fun) to upload an entire world to your Minecraft Realms server–whether it’s a world you created yourself or downloaded online.

Why Would I Want to Do This?

Minecraft Realms is the official server platform from Mojang, the company behind Minecraft. It’s a great user-friendly way to host a remote server for you and your friends (or your child and their friends) to play Minecraft together.

In our guide to getting started with Minecraft Realms, we highlighted how to create a new world or populate your Minecraft server with the Mojang-supplied maps, but now we’re back to show you how you can upload your own worlds.

Not only does this allow you to upload a world that you’ve been working on (either with friends or solo), but you can also download maps from the Internet that other industrious builders have filled with their cool creations for you to explore.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do before uploading your maps and where you can find additional maps online to upload to your Minecraft Realms server.

First, Update Your Maps (If Necessary)

Minecraft Realms uses the most up-to-date public release of Minecraft. As of this tutorial that’s version 1.8.9, but Realms will roll over to 1.9 as soon it is released.

Ideally, you’ll use a map that’s from a current version of Minecraft. If you have a map from an old version you want to use (e.g. you’ve been playing on an old 1.6.4 map for years but now you want to upload it to Realms) you can certainly do so, but be aware that you might run into some issues.

The most obvious issue revolves around really ugly chunk updating where the edges of the currently explored map (generated with the old world engine) bump into the new areas (which will be generated with the new world engine). If you’re in such a situation where you’d uploading a very old map, we’d highly recommend checking out our guide How to Upgrade Your Old Minecraft Maps for Seamless Transitions to New Biomes.

For many players, though, old maps aren’t a huge concern, and simply uploading their existing world map will be just fine. Still, it’s good to know about the nuances of the process so you’re not surprised later when your map looks stranger than you recall.

With that minor caution out of the way, let’s look at where you’ll find your local maps and where to find cool maps online before showing you how to upload them right to your Realms server.

Locate Your Local Save Directory

The first step in uploading any map, be it your local player map or a custom downloaded map, is simply locating the world save directory on your PC. We’ve detailed locating and backing up your Minecraft file in How to Backup Your Minecraft Worlds, Mods, and More but we’ll recap here for ease of reading (and to get you up and running faster).

Although your world saves might be in a different location if you’re using a custom launcher like MultiMC, here are the default save locations on major operating systems:

Windows %appdata%\.minecraft\saves\
Mac OS X ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves/
Linux /home/[username]/.minecraft/saves/

Within the \saves\ folder, you will find a unique folder for each world save named after the world itself (e.g. \saves\My First World\). Think of the folder like a container that holds all the important data about your world, including the world map and the accompanying metadata.

Now would be a great time to make a backup copy, in a safe location, of your world data. Uploading the world won’t make any changes to it, and once it is on the Realms server no changes will be made to your local data. But nonetheless it’s always good to get in the habit of making backups of any digital projects, like big Minecraft maps, you’ve invested a lot of time in.

Even if you don’t plan on uploading a map you’ve personally created and you want to jump right into downloading custom content, make note of this directory, as it is important to the whole uploading process.

How to Find and Download Cool Maps Online

While uploading your own creations liberates the builds you’ve worked on so hard on, equally fun is finding cool custom maps online and uploading them to explore with your friends. If you’re just uploading your own world, you can skip this section, since the uploading process is the same for both. But if you want to find new content to play with, we’ll talk about that here.

If you want a good overview of different map types, like adventure and parkour maps, check out Lesson 13 from our detailed Minecraft Geek School series: Downloading and Installing Custom Maps.

Our two favorite locations, both on account of their wide selection and their longevity, are PlanetMinecraft and MinecraftMaps. Between the two websites, you’ll find thousands of maps you can take for a spin.

At Planet Minecraft you’ll find world saves to download in the Projects category; make sure to use the drop down menu and filter the projects category by “world saves” to weed out the myriad of other projects (like videos and world seeds). You can further narrow your search by filtering via project type to narrow it down to just adventure/challenge maps, certain structure types, and so on.

MinecraftMaps is a little bit easier to navigate if for no other reason than, as the name implies, there’s nothing there but Minecraft maps to download. With both sites, the only thing to really look out for is the version number of the map. If you sort by downloads/popularity, for example, you’ll often find very old Minecraft maps from 3-4 years ago that have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times but may or may not have been updated for newer versions of the game.

Today, we’re downloading an adventure map so we can do a little adventuring with friends. So we’ve selected the Le Gran Maze map from MinecraftMaps and will be using it for the next step in the tutorial, uploading the map to Minecraft Realms.

Regardless if which world save or map you’ve downloaded, you need to extract the .ZIP file you downloaded into the Minecraft /saves/ directory on your PC (which we located in the previous section of the tutorial). Take a moment to do so now.

How to Upload Your Map to Minecraft Realms

Whether you’ve grabbed your own personal map, or combed through lists of maps online to find the perfect one, it’s time to upload it to your Realms server.

Note: If you haven’t fully set up your Minecraft Realms server and/or need some help with the basic navigation, do check out our guide to getting started with Minecraft Realms before proceeding.

Launch Minecraft and select the “Minecraft Realms” button to access your Realms.

Select the configuration icon, the large wrench, of the Minecraft Realms server you wish to upload your map to (for most folks it’ll be the only option available).

Once inside the configuration menu of your Realms server you need to either select an available empty slot, as seen above, or unload/delete one of your worlds to make room for your new map.

After selecting your empty map slot you’ll be prompted to select what you wish to do with it; select “Upload world”.

In the selection screen you’ll see worlds listed just like you do in your single player menu. You’ll notice that entry we’ve highlighted above has two names: “world” and “Le Gran Maze 1.8”. Minecraft world saves have two names: the name embedded in the save file and the name of the folder they are in. When you download maps from the Internet, they often have generic names like “world” but you can always customize the name of the folder, as we did, for easy identification.

Select the world you wish to upload and then click “Upload”. After the upload reaches 100 percent and your world file is verified, select “Done”.

You’ll return to the main Realms configuration screen, seen above, and you’ll be prompted to select which world you wish to load. The previously empty World 3 slot now has our new world uploaded into it. Don’t be alarmed if you’ve downloaded a spaceship map or some such thing and you see a generic looking landscape (as seen in the screenshot above). The thumbnail for uploaded worlds is created using the world seed and disregards whatever structures have been built in the world or changes the map creator has made.

Double click on the map to load it and you’re in business. Enjoy your new map and be sure to tell your friends there’s something new to check out on your Realms server.

Have a pressing question about Minecraft or your Realms server? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/10/16

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