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THE HOW-TO GEEK GUIDE TO MINECRAFT / HOW-TO GEEK SCHOOL

How-To Geek

Lesson 1: Getting Started with Minecraft

Even if you’re interested in playing on the PE, CE, or Pi editions however, we’d still highly recommend you read through the series as the majority of the information applies to all editions. If you are using a non-PC edition, reference the links we provided above to the Minecraft Wiki hosted at Gamepedia to see what elements of the PC edition are missing from the edition you’re using.

Installing Minecraft

Once you’ve looked over the PC requirements, it’s time to install your copy of Minecraft and take it for a spin.

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Let’s take a walk through the signup and installation process.

Signing Up for an Account

The first step is to sign up for an account. Whether you want to jump right to purchasing a copy or play the demo, you’ll need to create a free account at Minecraft.net. Signup is simple, just provide a legitimate email address and select a password. Wait for a verification email from Mojang (Minecraft’s parent company) and then confirm when it arrives.

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When you click through the verification link, it will take you to the second step of the registration process: selecting your Minecraft username and purchasing the game.

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If you wish to try the demo before purchasing, jump to this link first. There you can download the demo without creating a username/purchasing the game. The demo allows you to play the game for 100 minutes (roughly five in-game Minecraft days); you can reset the demo and play it again, but you’re always limited to 100 minutes before you must reset the world.

Whether you’ve purchased the game outright or you’re trying the demo, the next step is to download the game and install it. On the download page select the appropriate download for your platform; Windows users should grab Minecraft.exe (a Windows friendly wrapper for the Minecraft launcher, and the tool we’ll be using); OS X users should grab the Minecraft.dmg; and Linux users, or anyone using an alternative operating system capable of running Java, should grab the Minecraft.jar file.

If you do not already have Java installed on your computer (or you are running an outdated copy) you must install and/or update before playing Minecraft. Visit the Java support page to grab the appropriate copy of Java 7+ for your operating system. It is strongly recommended you use the 64-bit copy of Java if you have a 64-bit processor/OS as you’ll see significant performance gains.

Save the file to your computer and, when the download is complete, launch the file. You’ll see a brief load sequence and then a login prompt.

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Always log in with your email address (the only people who need to input a username are those who registered for Minecraft in 2012 or earlier).

Once logged in, you’re presented with the Update Notes tab which brings you up-to-speed on the most recent changes in Minecraft. In addition to the Update Notes tab there is also a tab for the Development Console, Profile Editor, and Local Version Editor. Feel free to ignore these for now as they are of very limited use to a beginning player and outside of troubleshooting or a few specific needs, you won’t ever need to visit them.

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At this point, we’re ready to actually dig in and play the game. But there is one useful element we want to highlight before we jump into playing.

Using Profiles

Down in the lower-left corner of the Minecraft launcher is the “Profile” section. By default there is only one profile, named after your Minecraft.net username, and set to use the latest stable release of Minecraft.

Although you can get by with just one profile there are several benefits to having multiple profiles. Multiple profiles allow you to play with different versions of Minecraft, like beta releases and older releases that are sometimes required for joining multiplayer servers that haven’t updated to the current release yet, and they allow you to silo the game data.

Let’s say, for example, that you have three children who all play Minecraft on the same computer. If you’ve been experiencing some bickering about the kids messing around with worlds, deleting worlds, or otherwise disturbing the peace, it’s very easy to create a profile for each child where all their changes and maps are separate.

Click on the “New Profile” button now, just to get a feel for how it works:

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While you can specify several different settings in the Profile Editor, the most immediately necessary and useful ones are “Profile Name,” “Game Directory,” and “Use version.”

Profile names allow you to specify who or what the account is for, e.g. “Steve,” “Jenny,” “Testing Beta Release,” “Multiplayer Serve,r” and the like. Changing the “Game Directory” is very useful in that it allows you to separate, as we mentioned above, the player’s data. So in the case of old “Steve” and “Jenny” we can make profiles named after them and then append the default \.minecraft\ naming scheme for the data folders to \.minecraft-steve\ and \.minecraft-jenny\ for their respective profiles.

For reference, the default location of all Minecraft game data is in the following folders based on which operating system Minecraft is installed on:

Windows C:\Users\[yourusername]\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\
Mac OS /Users/[yourusername]/Library/Application Support/Minecraft/
Linux /home/[yourusername]/.minecraft/

Any time you make a new profile and specify a new Game Directory, the Minecraft launcher will automatically create the appropriate folder structure and populate it with files from the Minecraft servers.

Creating Your First World

Now that we’ve highlighted the benefit of the profile system, it’s time to create our first world and play!

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/9/14