I don’t know any parents who haven’t had to deal with an older child who wanted to play Minecraft at some point.
No wonder. Minecraft is an incredible game. A magical lego-type game world where the imagination can run riot. If kids are going to play games on screens with their time, then this is the kind of imaginative sandbox where you’d like them to play.
But where to start? Minecraft comes in a variety of different formats and a few different titles. This guide will be begin at the beginning, and walk you through everything that you will need to know to set up and expand it to your child’s (or your own) delight!
I will teach you how to set up Minecraft, add mods (modifications), maps, modify skins, join online servers and even set up your own server. But, let’s start at the beginning.
Which version of Minecraft to get?
Things are simple if you have a console. Make sure you get Minecraft and not Minecraft : Dungeons or Minecraft : Story Mode. These are all fine games, but this guide is not for consoles. This is for people who are intending to use Minecraft on a PC / laptop.
In looking at which version of it you want, I think you really have to future-proof it. What I mean by that is, when your child gets to learn the basics of Minecraft, they’ll really, really want to start to expand it. There’s only really one version of it that allows you to add modifications, maps and suchlike with ease and that’s the Minecraft Java Edition. That’s the one I recommend, and that’s the one I’ll be writing about. This is why….
Minecraft has been around for over ten years now, and in that time there’s been a huge community created who build things for Minecraft. Most of these things – modifications, for example – are free for the Java edition. They add extra functionality to the basic (vanilla) Minecraft and, believe me, your children are going to want them. You can get some modifications for the Windows version of Minecraft, but they are limited and will cost you. So, go with the Java edition and you’ll thank me for it.
So, step one is to head over to Minecraft.net, create an account and buy yourself the Minecraft Java Edition. (Note the Microsoft hard sell for the Minecraft for Windows edition. That isn’t what this guide is for….)
Download it, install it, and it should all work fine. In days gone by, you would have had to find and install the correct version of Java to make it work, but the up-to-date releases save you the bother.
A Bit Of Knowledge Goes A Long Way
The Minecraft Java version has had many different releases over the years, each new one bringing new features. The next (at the time of writing) is version 1.19 – The Wild Update. This will add a new biome (land style) and enhance existing ones. It will also add new blocks, creatures and effects.
The amazing thing is that once you’ve paid for Minecraft Java Edition, you get all the updates in the future for free!
Once it’s installed, run it once. Then close it because you should do a bit of housekeeping. If you do the following steps, it will help keep things organised as you move on.
Setting Up A Profiles Folder
So, this is the first really technical thing that you have to do, and you won’t even see any impact straight away. It will make a huge difference later on, though, so it is worth doing.
Remember how I said that Minecraft had different releases? I mentioned 1.19, but you’ll also see references to other versions (1.12.2, 1.6, 1.16 etc). Well, each of these releases use different mods and maps. So, a modification that works on release 1.12.2 will probably not work on 1.16. For that reason, we use profiles to keep things in separate folders to cut down on compatibility clashes. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make much sense just now. It will later on.
1. Open Explorer. If you don’t know how to do this, no worries. It’s easy. Just press the Windows Key and ‘e’ together at the same time.
2. At the top address bar, type this : %appdata%
3. Near the top there should be a folder called .minecraft. Click into it.
4. Create a new folder and call it ‘profiles’.
If you feel comfortable enough with windows to right click on this .minecraft folder and Pin To Quick Access or create a shortcut on the desktop, this would be a fine time to do it. You’ll want to access this shortcut a lot in the future. No worries if you’re not comfortable with this.
Make the Profile and Play
Almost there! Open up the launcher. It should look like this. Don’t press play yet! Note – where it says latest release 1.17.1. That’s the launcher that’s loaded as default.
Now, click on the tab that says ‘Installations’.
Now you’re in the installations screen which should look like this:
Click on New Installation. It will look like below.
Give it a Name. In the version drop down, pick 1.17.1 (may come up automatically), then under game directory, click browse.
Navigate your way to the ‘profiles’ folder and click on it. Then click ‘make new folder’ and call it something that will remind you what that version is. ie “1.17.2 Test”. Then click ok and click create.
Your new installation is there! Time to click play!
Now, we’re getting into it. The launcher will close and reopen in a new window which should look like this:
For now, click on Singleplayer. In the next page, copy over all the settings in the picture below and click ‘create new world’.
I will explain all of these settings in another part. This is just to get you into a world of your own creation without getting killed too easily!
Give it a minute, and then you’ll be in your very own, first Minecraft world. You did it! Move around using the w (forwards), a (left), s (backwards) and d (right) keys, with space for jumping. Move the mouse to look around. Use the left button to break a block or attack, and the right button to place a block. Easy!
Go and explore. Get used to the navigation. Break some trees and place some blocks. Familiarise yourself with the movement and the world. Make the screen bigger if you want. Mess around and have fun – you’re now in the Minecraft world!