The mega-popular sandbox game “Minecraft” has been captivating gamers for over a decade. So naturally, the game has seen its share of updates and patches – its most recent as of this writing being version 1.16.5, released in January 2021.
Minor updates keep “Minecraft” safe and bug-free, while major updates that add new content are even more exciting for players. Like most apps and devices, you should try to keep “Minecraft” updated whenever you can.
Here’s what you need to know about Minecraft updates, including how to install them, and the minor risks that updates can pose to mods.
How to update ‘Minecraft: Bedrock Edition’
How exactly you update “Bedrock Edition” will depend on what system you use to play the game.
On a PC
If you play Bedrock on a computer, which is available for PC players who run Windows 10, Minecraft should be updating automatically.
However, if you need to do a manual update, here’s how:
1. Open the Microsoft Store app, then select the three dots in the top-right corner. Select “Downloads and updates.”
2. Select “Get updates.” All your installed applications, including “Minecraft,” should update.
Players who have “Minecraft” on a console – whether that be the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, or DS – should receive any updates automatically. Your console just needs to be connected to the internet.
If an update has dropped that you don’t think you have, you can check for updates manually. The exact steps for this will differ based on console, but will usually involve selecting “Minecraft” and opening its settings page.
On phones and tablets
If you’re playing “Minecraft” on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, it’ll update just like any other app. In other words, it’ll probably update automatically as well.
You can easily keep your copy of “Minecraft: Java Edition” up to date via the Minecraft Launcher app. This is the app you open and press “Play” in to start the game.
Just like the other versions of the game, the Launcher app should keep “Minecraft” updated automatically. Whenever you open the launcher while connected to the internet, it’ll check for updates, and install them before you play the game.
However, you can always check which version of “Minecraft” you have. Here’s how:
1. Open the Minecraft Launcher.
2. In the drop-down menu next to “Play,” click the “Latest release” option.
3. Compare the number underneath it to whatever the latest version of “Minecraft” is. You can find this with a quick Google search.
If updates aren’t installing, make sure you have enough space on your computer.
“Minecraft” maps can be massive, so it’s no wonder that many players prefer flying to walking. Flying in “Minecraft” means faster and more efficient travel uninterrupted by mountains, trees and bodies of water.
There are a few different ways to fly when playing “Minecraft.” In Creative mode, flying is as simple as the tap of a key or button on console. In Survival mode, however, you’ll have to earn the ability to fly by finding an equippable item called Elytra.
Here’s everything you need to know about achieving liftoff in “Minecraft,” whatever your style of play.
How to fly in ‘Minecraft’ using Creative or Spectator mode
As you probably know, “Minecraft” has various different game modes and playstyles. In Creative and Spectator mode, you’re less like a player and more like an in-game god.
One part of this is your ability to freely fly anywhere at any time. Just quickly double-tap the jump button – on a computer, for instance, this will be the spacebar.
Once flying, you can press and hold the jump button to rise, and hold the crouch button to fall. You can also hold the sprint button in mid-air to fly faster.
Double-tap the jump button again to stop flying. Because you’re in Creative or Spectator mode, you won’t take any damage if you fall from a great height.
Just don’t fall into nothingness – say for instance, the voids between islands in The End – or you’ll die and have to respawn.
How to fly in ‘Minecraft’ using Elytra in Survival mode
For the brave and patient souls who dare not use Creative mode, flying is still possible in Survival mode. But it’s harder, and you can’t fly as freely.
To fly in Survival mode, you’ll need to find the rare Elytra item, located somewhere in an End Ship.
Finding the Elytra
End Ships are located in the far reaches of The End, the dimension where the Ender Dragon lives. Every time you defeat the Ender Dragon, two portals are created – one that will take you to the credits and then back home, and another that will take you to the outer End islands.
If you don’t want to face one of the game’s biggest baddies yet though, and are a patient builder, you can also build a bridge from the Ender Dragon’s lair to an End city. Just note that this can take a very long time, and will require a lot of resources – the nearest island is over 1000 blocks away.
If you take this route, place a bed near your portal to the End world to create a spawn point, since falling out of the world to your death will be a potential hazard.
However you get there, once you find an End City in the distant islands, your best bet to find the Elytra is to board an End Ship. A little more than half of End Cities feature one of these ships.
Within the ship, find a level inlaid with black Obsidian blocks. There, you’ll see the Elytra in an item frame, flanked by two chests – which you should definitely loot as well – and defended by a Shulker. Break the item frame to claim the Elytra.
Flying with the Elytra
Elytra works very differently from the sort of flying you do in Creative and Spectator mode. It’s more like gliding, and you can’t fly forever. However, you can hack that by equipping fireworks while you glide.
To use the Elytra, you’ll need to equip your wings to your character’s chestplate slot. From there, climb to a great height, fall, and press the jump key once to start flying.
While flying with Elytra, be mindful of real world physics. Flying at too sharp an angle can cause you to stall and fall from the sky. And colliding with the ground or a wall too fast might kill you.
When your legs begin to wobble when gliding with an Elytra, it’s an indication you’re losing altitude. If you’re not ready to go down just yet, equip a firework rocket in your hotbar and use the item. This will give you a big speed boost, shooting you back into the sky. You can, in theory, fly for as long as you have firework rockets to spend.
Just note that the Elytra also has its own durability, which will go down the more you fly. You can repair an Elytra by combining it with two phantom membranes at an anvil, or by combining two damaged Elytras.
“Minecraft” – and in particular the original, mod-friendly “Java” edition – is a game that offers its players near limitless creativity. No two worlds are alike, and starting a new one can sometimes seem like a daunting task.
Fortunately, you don’t have to start from scratch. Thanks to a benevolent community eager to show off their masterpieces, you can download an expert-level Minecraft map and start playing right away.
And these downloadable maps are often more than mere templates: They can offer adventurous puzzles, jump-scare horror experiences, scavenger hunts, multiplayer games, and more. As long as the map you download is compatible with the version of Minecraft you run, just about every theme and type of map imaginable is at your fingertips.
Here’s where you can find amazing custom maps, and how you can add them to your slate of playable Minecraft worlds.
How to download a ‘Minecraft’ map and add it to your game
1. When you find a map you want to download that’s compatible with the version of Java you run, download, unzip and drag the file to your desktop (or any location on your computer that you can find again quickly).
2. Next, you’ll find and open your Minecraft folder. If your Minecraft folder is saved in the default location for your device, then you can find it by:
Windows: Press the Windows key + R to open the Run menu. In the text field, enter “%appdata%.minecraft” and press Enter.
Mac: Open a Finder window and click “Go” at the top of the screen, and then “Go to Folder.” In the pop-up that appears, enter “~/Library/ApplicationSupport/minecraft” and press “Go.”
Linux: In your Home directory, Minecraft can be found in “/home/YOURNAME/.minecraft/.”
3. In your Minecraft folder, find the “saves” folder. When you open it, you’ll see the names of all your existing worlds.
4. Grab the map you downloaded and drag and drop the file into the Minecraft “saves” folder. Make sure to drag the entire folder for the map download file, and not just contents within the folder.
5. Open the Minecraft Launcher and start “Minecraft.”
6. Select “Singleplayer,” find your new map, and click “Play Selected World.”
From here, brace yourself for the exquisitely cultivated world you’re about to be loaded into – just be sure to give credit to the world’s actual creator when your multiplayer friends compliment your world.
OptiFine is a versatile program that many “Minecraft” players can’t imagine going without, particularly when playing on a less capable computer. It’s a “Minecraft: Java Edition” optimizer, allowing computers with less memory and less powerful graphics cards to run the game more smoothly.
OptiFine also gives you access to tons of new texture packs and HD shaders to make your game look as good as possible, as well a few useful new gameplay mechanics, including the famous “OptiFine Zoom.”
It’s different from mods in how it’s installed and runs, but is similar in that it changes how the game looks and works.
Here are two ways to install and use OptiFine, depending on whether or not you want to use it with other mods.
How to install and run OptiFine in ‘Minecraft’ without mods
1. In a web browser of your choice, navigate to the OptiFine downloads page. If you aren’t running the most current version of “Minecraft,” click “Show all versions” to find and select your version.
2. Click “Download” next to the version of OptiFine that you want. Click “Skip” in the top-right corner after a brief countdown if you’re taken to an ad break page.
3. Click “Download” when you’re redirected to the OptiFine download, and save it anywhere you can find it. You may see a warning about your download from your browser and/or computer, which you can safely disregard.
4. Navigate to the downloaded OptiFine file, which will be an executable .jar file. Double-click the file to open the installer and click “Install.” You should then see a message saying OptiFine has been successfully installed.
5. Open your Minecraft Launcher, and in the drop-down menu to the left of the “Play” button, make sure that “OptiFine” is selected. Once it is, click “Play.”
6. When “Minecraft” loads, select “Options…” from the main menu, then “Video Settings.” You’ll know that the OptiFine download was successful if you see added options like “Shaders,” “Details,” and “Animations.”
How to install and run OptiFine to work with ‘Minecraft’ mods
1. Follow the first three steps to download OptiFine as shown above. If you haven’t already, download Minecraft Forge as well. You can follow our guide here.
2. Open the Minecraft Launcher app.
3. In the drop-down menu near the green play button, select “forge” then click “Play” to launch.
4. You’ll see the “Mods” option in the Minecraft main menu. Click it, then select “Open mods folder.” Java will automatically open the mods folder created by Forge.
5. Drag and drop the .jar OptiFine file that you downloaded into this mods folder.
6. Close “Minecraft” and relaunch it, again running the Forge installation version. This time on the load screen, you should see the message “Found 2 modfiles to load” pass by, indicating that OptiFine has been incorporated into Forge.
7. You can check that it’s been installed correctly the same way as before: By going into the main menu and selecting “Options…” then “Video Settings.” If there are additional options like “Shaders,” “Details,” and “Animations,” then OptiFine is installed.
How to get started using OptiFine
OptiFine adds a lot of new options and settings to your game, so it can be a bit confusing to jump right in. Here’s some of the basic features, explained.
When “Minecraft” first came out, there wasn’t any way to beat the game. You just played as long as you wanted – or until you fell into a ravine and died. But a few years into “Minecraft’s” life, the developers added a final boss: the Ender Dragon. Once you beat this flying titan, the credits roll, and you get an achievement for beating the game.
To reach the Ender Dragon, you’ll need to build a special structure known as an End Portal. The End Portal gives you direct access to “The End,” the dark dimension where the dragon lives.
If you’re playing in Survival or Hardcore mode, you’ll need to find a broken End Portal underground and repair it using Eyes of Ender. In Creative mode, you can just build one using materials from your infinite inventory.
Whatever your style, we’ve got you covered with steps to find an End Portal in Survival mode, or craft one in Creative mode.
How to find and make an End Portal in “Minecraft’s” Survival mode
In “Minecraft’s” default mode, Survival, several broken End Portals are generated underground as soon as you create your world. To use them, you’ll need to find the underground stronghold and repair them with Eyes of Ender.
Fortunately, you don’t have to aimlessly strip mine the map to find a stronghold. Strongholds can be located using those same Eyes of Ender.
Finding the End Portal
To find the stronghold, you’ll need Eyes of Ender, which act as magic compasses of sorts for finding strongholds.
This’ll take some work, though. Here’s the step-by-step.
Making the End Portal
Once you’ve reached the portal room, you’re almost done. For safety, fill in all the lava and destroy the monster spawner. This will prevent any unfortunate accidents.
At the top of the staircase is the broken End Portal. The portal’s entire frame is there, but a number of Eyes of Ender will be missing. Carefully fill in all the missing pegs with Eyes of Ender to activate the structure.
Once you’ve placed all the pearls, you’ll hear a loud booming sound, and darkness will fill the portal. Once you jump in, you’ll be taken to The End, and the final boss, the Ender Dragon.
Make sure you’re ready to face it before you step inside, because once you do, the only way back is by dying or winning.
How to make an End Portal in “Minecraft’s” Creative Mode
The frame pieces of an End Portal can’t be crafted. However, in Creative mode, you can find these frames in your inventory (as well as Eyes of Ender) and place them freely.
This means that you don’t need to hunt for an End Portal – you can just make one from scratch.
1. Open your infinite inventory and grab your materials. You’ll need 12 Eyes of Ender, and 12 End Portal Frames.
2. Now let’s start building. To easily make sure that the frames are placed correctly, dig a 3×3 grid in the ground and stand inside of it.
3. Position yourself within the grid and face outward, and then place End Portal Frames along the edge of the grid. How you place the frames matters – the sides of the frames with extra green need to be facing the inside and outside, not toward the blocks next to them. Standing inside the grid should ensure they’re placed correctly.
4. Now get out of the grid and start placing your Eyes of Ender in the frame. As soon as you place the 12th and final Eye, the portal will activate. Jump in, and you’ll be transported to The End.
“Minecraft” has been a beacon in the gaming community for more than a decade now. And there’s no better way to prove that you’re a “Minecraft” master than by crafting a beacon of your own in-game.
The beacon is one of the most difficult items to make in all of “Minecraft,” as it requires at least one incredibly rare material. But once you’ve made one, the beacon can upgrade your mining, speed, and health stats. They’re also a literal beam of guiding light if you’re ever lost in your expansive “Minecraft” world.
Here’s everything to know about beacons, including how to find their materials, how to craft them, and then how to use them.
The materials you’ll need to craft a beacon in ‘Minecraft’
Like most items in “Minecraft,” to make a beacon, you’ll need to gather materials from across the world. Luckily, two of these items can probably be found close to home. The last, however, will take some work.
Starting with the easiest material, you’ll need glass. Just like in real life, you can make glass out of sand. Sand can be found on any ocean beach, or in the desert.
Mine at least five blocks of sand and take them to a furnace. Put them in the furnace with any type of fuel to create glass.
Next, you’ll need to mine or acquire at least three blocks of obsidian. And unlike other rare ores like diamonds, you can’t trade with villagers to get it.
The best way to find obsidian is to mine it out of the ground. Before you do this, note that you’ll need a diamond or netherite pickaxe – other tools will just break the obsidian and leave you with nothing.
You can create obsidian yourself by pouring water from a bucket into lava. If you don’t have easy access to lava, dig until you reach layer 11 in the Overworld, or layer 31 in the Nether.
From there, dig horizontally until you find lava, then pour a bucket of water in. If you find lava and water near each other, you can also mine a path for the two liquids to meet. Just be careful: falling in lava is a quick death sentence in Minecraft.
Finally, there’s the Nether Star. The Nether Star is a rare item that can only be obtained by defeating the most difficult boss in “Minecraft:” The Wither.
Unlike other enemies in “Minecraft,” you can’t just find the Wither walking around somewhere. You actually have to make the Wither yourself, using items found in the Nether. The Nether is sort of like “Minecraft’s” version of the underworld – lots of fire, lava, and scary enemies.
So here’s the game plan:
How to craft a beacon in ‘Minecraft’
Once you’ve got the materials, crafting the beacon is easy.
Go to a workbench, and add:
Three pieces of glass to the top row.
One glass, one Nether Star, and one glass to the middle row.
Three obsidian to the bottom row.
This will craft a beacon.
However, a beacon by itself is useless. To shoot a beam of light into the sky, as well as tap into a beacon’s true upgrading power, you’ll need to place it on top of a pyramid.
Crafting the beacon pyramid
A beacon will only activate when placed on a pyramid. To build this pyramid, you’ll need iron, gold, emerald, diamond, or netherite blocks. You can use just one or all of these four resources together when building your pyramid – however, you’ll need a lot of them.
Pyramids can have up to four levels, with each level giving the pyramid more powers and a wider range.
A level one pyramid will require a 3×3 base, which takes 9 blocks.
A level two pyramid will require a 5×5 base and a 3×3 top, which takes 34 blocks.
A level three pyramid will require a 7×7 base, 5×5 second layer, and a 3×3 top, which takes 83 blocks.
A level four pyramid will require a 9×9 block base, 7×7 second layer, 5×5 third layer, and a 3×3 top, which takes 164 blocks.
Once you’ve built your pyramid, place the beacon on top, in the very center spot. It’ll activate immediately.
How to use your ‘Minecraft’ beacon
Once the beacon is activated, you can right-click it to open its menu. In this menu, feed it ingots, diamonds, or emeralds to gain power-ups. The level four pyramid will give you the biggest boosts, but even a small one-level pyramid still gives you access to minor mining and movement speed buffs.
Just note that these buffs don’t cover the entire world. The level one pyramid’s buffs affect everyone in a 20 block radius, the level two pyramid covers a 30 block radius, and so on. Once you leave the coverage area, your buffs will last for about 10 to 15 seconds before fading away.
If you pick a power-up, but later change your mind and want a different one, don’t sweat it: You can always go back and modify the status boost given by the beacon. Just note that you’ll need to give up another ingot, diamond, or emerald.
To enable all the power-ups at the same time, you’ll need to craft six different beacons, and either place them on six pyramids, or a modified 10×11, 8×9, 6×7, and 4×5 level pyramid.
Choose the location of your beacon pyramid wisely, as deconstructing it will be time consuming.
How to change the beacon’s light color
Your pyramid can be made out of any combination of emerald, diamond, gold, iron, or netherite. This is great for making it stand out in the world.
Even cooler, though, is the ability to customize the color of your beacon’s light. To do this, place a stained glass window on top of the beacon. It’ll tint your light the same color as the glass.
You can make stained glass by filling a 3×3 crafting grid with glass, but swapping out the middle piece for whatever color dye you like.
“Minecraft” is famous for how many mods it has, and how easy they are to install. These mods can be practical – like creating a new item – or they can add fun thematic elements to your game, such as new game modes.
To install these mods, you’ll need to use a free add-on called Minecraft Forge. This will let you customize “Minecraft: Java Edition” with mods.
Here’s how to install Minecraft Forge, and use it to install mods.
How to add a mod to Minecraft
Forge won’t come with mods built into it, so you’ll need to find them yourself. You can find all sorts of “Minecraft” mods through Google, and websites like minecraftmods.com.
Once you’ve found one that’s appealing, save the file to your newly-created Forge mods folder. The address on your PC will be: C:Users[your username]AppDataRoaming.minecraftmods
On a Mac, it’ll be: [your computer’s name] > Macintosh HD > Users > [your username] > Library > Application Support > minecraft > mods
In place of [your username], insert the name of the account you’re using on your computer.
Once you’ve done that, you can check that the mod is enabled by clicking the “Mods” tab on the “Minecraft” main menu (see above), then confirming that the mod is listed in the left column beneath the “Minecraft” version you’re running.
If you’ve spent a lot of time in “Minecraft” visiting and trading with a single village, you might grow attached to the NPCs in the town. Luckily, there’s a great way to both make your NPCs feel special, and help them stand out from other similar characters.
Here’s everything to know about Name Tags, rare “Minecraft” items that can help personalize your game – including where to find them and how to use them.
How Name Tags work in ‘Minecraft’
Name Tags are items that, when placed on an NPC, give them a unique name. The name you give will be displayed above their head whenever you get close and look at them.
Naming an NPC also makes it so they’ll never despawn. This means that if you rename a random zombie in a cave, for instance, that zombie will remain there forever, even if you leave and never come back. However, renamed NPCs can still die, at which point you’ll lose the Name Tag.
Every NPC can be renamed except for the Ender Dragon. You can’t rename other players.
Unlike most things in “Minecraft,” you can’t actually craft a Name Tag. You’ll have to find or trade for this one. This can take awhile if you don’t know where to look.
Fortunately, there’s a few reliable locations to loot a Tag, one surefire way to trade for them, and even a method involving fishing – although you’ll need to be lucky.
How to find a Name Tag in ‘Minecraft’
Here’s three different ways you get a Name Tag.
How to use your Name Tag in ‘Minecraft’
Giving the Name Tag a name
Before you can assign a name to a mob creature, you need to write the name you want onto the Name Tag. Luckily, you can do this with a simple anvil.
1. Place your anvil and use it, which will open a menu.
2. Drag your Name Tag into one of the left two slots near the top, and type in its new name in the text box at the top.
3. When you’re ready, drag the completed Name Tag on the right back into your inventory.
Naming a Name Tag will cost one experience level. If you don’t have enough experience, go out and kill mobs until you level up.
Use the Name Tag on an NPC
You’re now ready to use the Name Tag to rename an NPC.
1. Find the NPC you want to rename. Again, this can be any NPC except for the Ender Dragon.
2. Put the Name Tag into one of your inventory’s nine hotbar slots and hold it.
3. Use the Name Tag on the NPC. This will default to double-clicking on a mouse, or the left trigger on a controller.
Your Name Tag will disappear, and a name will appear above the NPC’s head.
Although a creature won’t despawn anymore once given a Name Tag, they can still be killed. Once a renamed NPC dies, their name will disappear.
If you’re not sure what you want to name an NPC, check out some of the easter eggs below.