How to Use the Map in Minecraft

One of the most frustrating things in “Minecraft” is getting lost and not knowing how to return to the home you worked so hard to build. In the infinite world of “Minecraft,” this can mean starting all over from scratch in a new location.

How to Use the Map in Minecraft

Fortunately, “Minecraft” has a Map feature, so you get lost again. With a Map, it’s easy to navigate to the Swamp for some Slime, skip over to the Badlands for some Gold, and head back home with no worries. This article will explain how to use a Map in “Minecraft.”

How to Use a Minecraft Map

The first step to using a Map in “Minecraft” is to equip an Empty Map in your hand. To equip a Map, select it in the bar at the bottom of the screen. Then open the “Map View” by:

  • Java Edition: Right-click using your mouse
  • Pocket Edition: Tap the “Create Map” button
  • Playstation: Press the left trigger on the controller

The blank Map will show in your hand and will be populated with the world’s information as you explore. The Map will only fill in if it is active in your hand. While it rests in your Inventory, it will not update as you walk around.

Map Tips and Tricks

  • See the Map more clearly by moving your crosshair downwards.
  • The Map is created in real-time, painting a picture as-is while you explore. If an area is modified after the Map is made, you will have to re-explore that area to update the Map details.
  • As with a map in the real world, the top of the Map will always be North.

How to Create a New Blank Map

If you don’t have a blank Map to start with, you will need to craft one before exploring. If you’re in Creative Mode, just use the search bar to find the Map. In Survival Mode, you will need a Crafting Table for your Map creation. If you don’t already have Iron Bars, you will also need a Furnace.

Collect Necessary Resources

  • Paper – To create a Map, you will need eight pieces of Paper. This can be made from raw resources of nine Sugar Cane placed on a Crafting Table if you prefer.
  • Iron – To make the Compass, a component of a Map, you will need four Iron Bars. You can mine and smelt four Iron Ore to get these. Just don’t forget to mine Iron Ore with a Stone Pickaxe or stronger.
  • Redstone – The Compass also requires one Redstone. This is the trickiest part of the process since mining Redstone generally happens at layer 16 and below and requires at least an Iron Pickaxe.

Make or Gather Paper

You can make Paper from naturally growing Sugar Cane. Sugar cane grows next to the water and will be one to three items high. If you leave the bottom cane planted when you mine it, it will regrow over time. You can also replant any Sugar Cane you’ve mined next to the water to keep growing more.

Once you have Sugar Cane, follow the steps below to make Paper.

  1. Open a Crafting Table.
  2. Fill the middle row with Sugar Cane.
  3. Place the resulting Paper in your Inventory.

Three Sugar Cane in the Crafting Table will result in three sheets of Paper. Since you need eight sheets of Paper altogether, you’ll need nine Sugar Cane to make one Map.

There are other ways to obtain Paper if you haven’t discovered Sugar Cane in your “Minecraft” world yet.

  • Looting a Cartographer’s Chest in a Village
  • Finding a supply or Map Chest on a Shipwreck
  • Exploring a Stronghold and finding a Library Chest

Any of these sources will give you the Paper you need to make a blank Map.

Make a Compass

Once you have gathered all the necessary items, it’s time to make a Compass. The Compass is the component of the Map that keeps track of your location on the Map and helps you navigate based on your surroundings.

  1. In the Crafting Table, place a Redstone in the middle of the nine input squares.
  2. Place an Iron Ingot in the top, bottom, right, and left square.
  3. You can also search for “Compass” in the Crafting Table menu. The Compass icon should appear in the Crafting Table output square.
  4. Tap on the created Compass to move it to your Inventory.

Create the Map

Now it’s time to use your Compass and Paper to create a blank Map.

  1. Open a Crafting Table to enter creation mode.
  2. Move the Compass from your Inventory to the center square.
  3. Place a sheet of Paper in the other eight empty squares.
  4. Tap the Map to move it to your Inventory.

In Java Edition, this is called an “Empty Map,” and it is the only kind of Map that can be made. In Bedrock Edition, this Map is called an “Empty Locator Map” because it is possible to make an “Empty Map” that does not include a Compass or location markers.

Remember not to equip the Map in your active hand until you’re ready to begin creating the Map with your current location.

Map the World

Now that you have a Map equip it and explore! A top-down view of your world will be created as you move through biomes and landmarks. Your location is shown by a pointed oval marker and will move as you move. When a Map begins to generate, it divides the world into a grid and displays the details of each grid square as you explore them.

Each Map can only hold a fixed amount of the world grid. When you reach the edge of that Map’s display capabilities, you can continue mapping the world by beginning a new Map in the next grid square over. Note that any Map you begin within one Map’s area will be identical to the current Map.

How to Find a Naturally Generated Empty Map

If you don’t want to go through all the work to create your own Map, it is possible to find Maps in your “Minecraft” world.

  • There is a 7.7% chance of finding a Map in a Map Chest on a Shipwreck.
  • Exploring Villages gives you the best chance to find a Map, as 46.2% of the time, a Cartographer’s Chest will hold one to three of them.
  • A Library Chest in a Stronghold has a 10.9% chance of finding an “Empty Map.”
  • Village Cartographers at the Novice-level will trade an “Empty Map” for 7 Emeralds.
  • Cartographers will sometimes gift a Map in Java Edition if you gain the “Hero of the Village” effect.

These Maps are all empty and can be equipped and used just like one you create yourself.

Use a Map From the Very Start

When you create a new world in Bedrock Edition, an option given to you in the starting menu is the “Starting Map.” When toggled on, this causes you to spawn with a Locator Map. It is empty and will fill in once you equip it. If you know you’d like a Map to explore your world, this is a great beginning option to skip the work and still get the Map.


Can I make a map without a compass?

In Bedrock Edition only, you can make an “Empty Map” without a Compass, but it will have limitations. If you fill all nine squares of the Crafting Table with sheets of Paper, the table will output an “Empty Map.” This Map will not have location markers, but it will still fill with your world’s terrain as you explore.

Can I add location markers to an “empty map?”

Yes, in Bedrock Edition, you can place a Map made with just Paper into an Anvil, Cartography Table, or Crafting Table and add a Compass to turn it into a “Locator Map.” This will add location markers and make it easier to navigate based on your position on the Map.

Why is using a map helpful?

Besides keeping you from getting lost in the infinitely generating “Minecraft” world, you can use Maps to keep track of important landmarks. If you discover something significant like a Village or a Shipwreck, you don’t have to stop immediately to explore them. Your Map will make a note of them, and you can return to them whenever you’re ready.

Can I make a Treasure Map?

No, unfortunately, Treasure Maps can’t be crafted. You’ll have to discover these in Chests along your journey.

Using a Map in Minecraft

Exploring is much more fun when you know you can return to your starting point at any time. No more building a home base at the origin just to be sure you won’t get lost. With some Paper, Redstone, and a Compass, you can craft a Map and set off with the assurance that you can always find your way back.

Any interesting sites in your world will be noted on the Map as long as you have it equipped. You can be a bold adventurer, stopping to explore a site whenever you have the time.

Have you used Maps in “Minecraft”? What is your favorite use for them? Tell us in the comments below.

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