I started playing Minecraft, but I was hampered by a nearly complete lack of instructions. It’s a fun open-world sandbox game, but it’s easy to get frustrated until you know how to control things.

Here is a basic control summary, targetted for people unfamiliar with normal game controls. It’s based on my limited experience with the Mac standalone executable version Alpha 1.1.2 in single player “free weekend while the website is down” mode.

I’m playing on a laptop without a right mouse button: ctrl-clicking is the same as a right button click, just like everywhere else in Mac land.

The most commonly used controls:

  • Look around using the mouse pointer
  • Move using the standard WASD keys
    • W moves forward
    • S moves backward
    • A slides left
    • D slides right
  • Jump using the space bar: you can jump one block high, to climb hills
  • 0-9 select the on-screen inventory item slots. 
  • Left click to destroy the block (or creature, aka “mob”) you’re pointing at. The most important clue: press and hold the left button to break blocks, don’t click it rapidly.
  • Right click (ctrl-click) to place the currently selected block where you’re pointing
  • I opens your inventory
    • I or esc to close inventory
    • left click to pick stuff up
    • right click to pick up half a stack
    • left click to put stuff down somewhere else in your inventory
    • right click to put down one item from a stack

I’ve also found that multitouch on the Mac scrolls through the 0-9 inventory slots, and it can zoom your screen in and out if you have ctrl pressed. I don’t find this useful, but it was an explanation for why “weird things” happened when I didn’t realize I was resting another finger on the touch pad.

I don’t want to spoil very much, but staying alive for a few days is important if you want to make any progress. Skip this section if you prefer a challenge or know how to use Google search. Penny-Arcade provided a good summary introduction to Minecraft with a good starting strategy for “survival mode” (single player): build a shelter as
soon as possible, without any human-sized entrances. When night falls, wait in there to avoid the zombies.

It’s good to build a shelter near where you started the game, since that’s where you’ll return after you die. You might build a spire above it so you can find it from a distance: the map can be confusing until you get used to it, and you’ll want to get home quickly as night falls.

The Minepedia has an excellent introduction to crafting, providing a useful reference during gameplay. You need tools to mine stone, and need a workbench to make tools, so start by knocking down some trees and collecting logs. A workbench and tools will also give you stuff to do at night.

If you know me in real life and want to play on my server, send me an e-mail.

  1. I assume you're on computer and not XBox or a mobile device.

    To destroy blocks, hold down the mouse button without letting go, instead of clicking repeatedly.

    If you're in creative mode and flying, you can use shift to descend without falling all the way down, and space to ascend.

    For a lot more information about Minecraft, go to the Minecraft Wiki: