This guide is intended for those who are not familiar with Minecraft. It describes how to play and survive the first night of Minecraft's Survival mode, assuming you are playing in a difficulty more challenging than "Peaceful" and in single player mode. It also assumes you are playing in single-player mode – for any number of reasons, you really should try a single-player world for your first game.
If you are reading this tutorial while you are playing Minecraft, it's recommended that you go to the Minecraft window and press Esc to pause the game. By doing this, you will have plenty of time to gather resources and create a shelter for the night, and monsters will not come up and kill you while you are away.
Before you start, you should learn the controls for the game. A full discussion of controls on all platforms can be found on, naturally, the Controls page. Here we discuss the default PC (and Mac) controls. Most of these can be changed in the Options menu (which can be reached from either the main menu or the pause (Esc) menu. There is one case (see below) where you really do want to change the default....)
The default keys for movement are as follows:
- W moves forward
- A moves left
- S moves back
- D moves right
- space to jump. If in deep water, Hold space to swim upwards so you can breathe.
- ⇧ Left Shift to crouch/sneak (hold to prevent falling off blocks and sliding down ladders)
- Left Control to sprint.
As you do various things, you will see "items" appear and float just off the ground. As you move toward them (or if you're already very close to them), they will fly toward you and disappear into your inventory. Later you will have chests to store things in, but for the first day or so, your inventory will be plenty big enough for all the items you find.
Use the mouse to look around the world, and to act on blocks:
- Moving the mouse changes the direction you are looking, without moving your character. (That is, looking around is always safe, Endermen notwithstanding.)
- Click and hold the left mouse button to break down (or mine) blocks. This is how you collect resources from the environment. Rapid clicking does not work, even though it may seem to.
- Right click to place or use the currently highlighted item from your inventory hot bar. Blocks and items such as torches get placed where your cursor is pointing (if possible), while other (non-mining) tools will do their various "things". Right-click and hold to eat food, or (when you have one) draw your bow.
- The mouse wheel cycles through the currently held items in your inventory hot bar, or you can use the number keys 1 – 9.
- E opens your inventory window, which lets you arrange your items and decide what goes on the hotbar. See the inventory page for full details.
- Q will drop whatever item you are holding. You should probably change the drop key to something else, like G. This is because the Q key is right next to the movement keys, which makes it all too easy to throw away your tools, perhaps dropping them off a cliff, into the ocean, or even into lava. Regardless of the key setting, you can also drop items by opening your inventory, and dragging the items out of the inventory window.
- F1 will toggle the HUD (Heads Up Display), including your hotbar, the various other "bars" (health, food, experience, armor), debug info, and the item you are holding. This gives you a clear view of the scene.
- F2 will take a screenshot, which is saved in the directory “
.minecraft\screenshots”. If the HUD and/or debug info are visible, they will be included in the screenshot.
- F3 will toggle "debugging info". A lot of this will be cryptic and pretty useless, but the information includes your current coordinates in the world, and the biome you are currently in.
- F5 will cycle among first-person view (the default), third-person view (looking at the avatar from behind), and second-person view (looking toward the avatar's face).
- F3+F will cycle through four levels of render distance. This chooses the distance you can see, with anything beyond that distance being enveloped by "fog". Shorter render distance (closer fog) can increase frames per second on a slow machine, but it prevents you from seeing as far as you potentially could, including mobs or distant territory. It's perfectly fair to spend most of your time on Short or even Tiny render distance, and switch briefly to a longer setting when you need to look over the landscape. There are four different view distances:
- Far: you can see the maximum distance (around a 256 block diameter).
- Normal: you can see about half of your maximum range (around a 128 block diameter).
- Short: this prevents you from determining what time of day it is as it blocks the sun, so this is not suggested. If your Minecraft client is this slow, try the Optifine Mod. You can only see about thirty-two blocks away from you (around a 64 block diameter).
- Tiny: same as short fog but you can only see sixteen blocks away. It is extremely difficult to play this way, and thus this fog distance is not suggested for any player except the very experienced for a challenge or if your computer is slow and you want to maximize performance (around a 32 block diameter).
- Note: When you eventually go deep underground, you will see the Void Fog, which behaves similarly, but closes in the further down you go, and is unaffected by your view settings.
As Minecraft is a sandbox game, there is no defined or proper way and style to play the game. However, in Survival mode one common theme found for all players is the need to feed yourself, and to avoid (and later, fight) hostile mobs that spawn either in dark places (e.g. caves) or when night falls.
Before your first night, you will need to collect Wood, make your first tools from that, then collect Cobblestone for a full set of better tools. Getting Coal or Charcoal, to cook food and make torches, is also very important, but missing that is not necessarily lethal. Wool for a bed is optional, but very helpful -- it lets you skip the night and avoid the monsters that appear then. While you're working on the basics, collect any stray items you come across, as many of them will be useful later. (Notably eggs, seeds, and anything dropped by monsters e.g Rotten Flesh, Bones and Arrows.)
You need to get these resources and find or make either a bed or a shelter before nightfall, because that's when the monsters come out. It is best to work quickly, as a Minecraft day is approximately ten minutes and night (including dawn and dusk) is another ten minutes, .
For nighttime, the primary danger will be monsters. It is a good idea to start gathering resources and construct a lit shelter immediately after you begin on the first day. As a beginning player, do not try to fight monsters your first night, because you have poor weapons (or none at all), and no armor.
 A Word About Digging and Mining.
One of the basic things you do in Minecraft is, well, mining things. The words may change, but whether you're chopping or punching wood, digging dirt, or mining stone and ores, the routine is the same: Wield an appropriate tool (which may be your fist), put the crosshairs on a block, and hold the left mouse button until the block "breaks" and drops as an item for you to pick up. If something is taking a long time to break, you are probably not using the right tool, so stop hitting it unless you just want to get rid of the block, as you won't get anything back when it finally breaks.
The rules for tools are as follows:
- Using the proper tool to break a block will be much faster. Wood and dirt type blocks don't absolutely need a tool, you can break them (more slowly) without one. Note that hitting blocks with anything but one of the standard tools is equivalent to using your fist.
- For snow blocks (in order for it to drop a snow block), snow cover (to drop a snowball), dirt, sand, and gravel, the tool is a shovel.
- For wood and wooden items, the tool is an axe.
- For stone and ores, you need a pickaxe (your fist will eventually break the block, but it won't drop as an item).
- The better the material a tool is made of, the faster the tool retrieves and breaks items, and the longer it will last before wearing out. For pickaxes in particular, better tools can harvest and collect more advanced ores (a list of ores is below). In order, the options are wood, stone, iron, and diamond. (You may also see gold tools, but those are nearly useless -- fast, but they wear out very quickly, and a gold pickaxe can only mine the blocks that a wooden one can.)
 The Golden Rule of Minecraft
The golden rule of Minecraft is:
It is possible to stand on a block while destroying it. Once it's destroyed you will fall down one block to whatever is beneath it. The problem is, once you get below the surface (sometimes even on the surface) there is a significant chance that "what's beneath it" is a cave -- then you'll fall into it (taking damage) and likely be surrounded by monsters. Worse, you might even fall into lava -- usually that's well underground, but there are a few pools of it near the surface too. Lava will damage you grievously, and also set you afire (which will do more damage). If you do land in lava try to get out immediately, and if possible jump into water to put out the flames. (Even if you can't save your life, try to get away from the lava before you die, so it won't destroy your possessions.) If you survive falling into a cavern, you will then have to mine your way back to the surface (try to make a staircase), hopefully before the monsters get you.
Digging straight up is less obviously dangerous, but you can dig out a block holding back water or lava (which will pour out onto you) or sand/gravel (which can fall on you and suffocate you). Even water could kill you, by washing you into a dangerous area. Note that lava or water will "drip" through the block immediately beneath them, but that's not much warning. Somewhat unintuitively, digging straight up is much safer in a 1×1 tunnel, if you are placing ladders as you go. If you release lava or water, you can simply drop down below your topmost ladder, which will block the fluid (and not burn). Of course, you still need to worry about caves containing monsters.
 Death and Your First Shelter
When you die in Minecraft, all items you were carrying or wearing in your inventory are scattered around your point of death, while you respawn elsewhere. Until you sleep in a bed, you will spawn somewhere within 10 blocks of the world spawn point. This includes the first time when you started the game, so you can respawn anywhere within 20 blocks of where you first entered the world.
The traditional advice is to build your first shelter as close as possible to the spawn point, so if you die, you can easily find it again, or even spawn in a now-protected area. Even with the variation in where you'll come back, it's good to have a lit shelter nearby the spawn point. However, a problem with sheltering near spawn is that if your death site is too close to where you respawn, your items may despawn while you're trying to survive the night. (See below for more details.)
In any case, your very first shelter should be something very basic, even a hole in the ground. This is so you can spend the least time working on shelter, and have the maximum time possible to gather resources. If you've got a couple dozen blocks of dirt (and especially if you have no torches), it's perfectly OK to spend your first few nights atop a pillar. See below for more advice on early and emergency shelters.
Like any dropped items in Minecraft, the items you drop when you die will disappear after 5 minutes, unless you're more than 180 blocks or so away, that is outside of chunk update radius. The problem is that if you died at night, you will find yourself stranded without your weapons and armor, at night, so you are quite likely to get killed again, or at least find your stuff guarded by monsters. Meanwhile, some of the monsters can actually pick up your stuff and use it against you! And if you spawned near your death scene, that 5-minute timer can easily go by before you can actually get back to and keep your stuff.
Combining these issues leads to a new strategy, at least for single-player. You can still mark your spawn point, but realize you might end up anywhere within 20 blocks of that. Then, while getting your initial resources, move away from the spawn point, trying to get 200 blocks or so away before you build your shelter. (Using the debug screen can help with checking the distance.) That way, if you get killed at night, you might spend an unpleasant "evening", but if you wait until dawn comes and the monsters leave, you can trot right back and hopefully retrieve your dropped items.
However, the above only applies until you have made and used a bed in a secure shelter. Once you've done that, you have a new option: If you get killed at night, you will respawn next to your bed, so you can just go back to sleep, and wake up the next morning -- the items don't "expire" while you're asleep. It still may be worth keeping your bed out of chunk update range from where you're endangering yourself, but at least you won't be stranded outside at night.
 Food and Hunger
Once you have tools and shelter, your next priority will be food. Hunger will take a while to hit, so it shouldn't be a problem on your first day, but you'll try to pick up some food for when it does. However, after you've been moving around for a while, your food bar will begin rippling and start to decrease. If your food bar drops below 90%, you will not regenerate health, and if it gets to 30%, you can't sprint. If the hunger bar goes down to empty, you will begin losing health. Unless you're in Hard mode (and a beginning player shouldn't be), you can't actually die of hunger, but you will go down to 1 health point () in Normal mode (or half your health in Easy mode), and that leaves you quite vulnerable.
Walking, mining blocks, and even placing blocks all cost some hunger, but all of those are minimal compared to the items below. These are the things that cause the most hunger, in order of cost.
- Healing damage of any sort. Avoid taking falls of more than 3 blocks, drowning yourself, or otherwise taking damage, as healing damage costs a lot of hunger. Especially avoid...
- Fighting: Both attacking mobs and receiving damage cost hunger, even before you start trying to heal damage. (10 blows either way matches healing , one health point.) You will need to slaughter a few animals, but pick your fights carefully.
- Sprinting. If you double-tap the forward movement key (W by default), you will sprint. This moves somewhat faster, but it also uses a lot of food, especially if you go any distance. (30 meters matches healing .)
- Jumping. Obviously, you'll need to jump some just to get around, but don't bounce around randomly or unnecessarily. (15 jumps matches healing ) Sprinting jumps are especially costly, 4 times as much as a regular jump.
 Starting the game
When you begin the game, you will be standing in a landscape somewhere. Take a moment to look around. This is the general area (within 20 blocks) where you will reappear if you get killed. It's a good idea to mark it immediately, by punching out an X of dirt and/or sand, then using the dirt or sand to build a pillar in the middle of that. If you're standing on rock, look around for some dirt or sand to use, remember where you are, and go get it to build your pillar. Before you move, you may want to hit F3 to show the debug info, then hit Esc to pause the game, and write down the coordinates where you started. (While you're at it, notice what biome you're in.) Then go back to the game and hit F3 again to hide that distracting text until you need it again.
 Tough and Easy Starts
- If you are standing on and surrounded by sand, you are likely in a Desert biome. After marking your spawn point, head for high ground and look around for green ground and/or trees (Cactus and sugar cane don't count). Head that way to gather your wood. If you can't see anything but desert, pick a random direction and head that way, occasionally going to high ground for a look around.
- If you are on an island, completely surrounded by water as far as you can see, you are in an Ocean biome. This is a very tough start, but if you don't want to just delete the world and start over, you can just start swimming until you reach land (hold down space to keep yourself afloat), then continue.
- In either case, "looking around" is a good time to increase your render distance to Far.
- If, looking around, you see purple land, your game just got a lot easier: That Mushroom Biome will not spawn monsters. Monsters can still come in from other biomes, but if you head toward the middle, you can spend the night in safety outdoors. Also, with a wooden bowl, you can get free food from the Mooshrooms which live there. However, one thing the Mushroom biome does not have, is wood -- so before you go there, head for green territory to get some wood and stone first.
- If, looking around, you see houses and/or farms, you are near an NPC Village. Unfortunately, that's not actually a good place to spend the night -- they do have houses that shelter against nighttime mobs, but the zombies that spawn at night will likely wipe out the villagers before you have a chance to properly trade with them. (Even so, the destroyed village will still have a lot of resources for you, usually including farms that will immediately solve your food worries.) If you see sheep around, you can get around this by making a bed ASAP, and using it to skip the nights until you can properly fortify the village.
- If you find yourself surrounded by many very large trees, and leaf blocks on the ground, then you have found yourself in a Jungle biome. the jungle biome is a good place to start because there are large trees everywhere, however, these can cause you to easily become lost. Jungle biomes are also the only place to find Ocelots and Cocoa beans.
- There are many other biomes in minecraft, and to see a more in depth look at all of them, check the Biome page. One biome being introduced in version 1.7 bears special mention: The Roofed Forest isn't the safest place to hang out, but it offers not only all the wood you can chop, but also Huge Mushrooms. Chopping down one of each type of those will let you make quite a bit of mushroom soup, which can tide you over until you arrange a more permanent food supply. They're also fairly common.
 Punching Wood
Look around for a few things in particular, in order of priority: trees, visible stone (and especially coal ore), animals, and tall grass. As you move around, break any tall grass in your way, and collect any seeds that drop. For that matter, collect any loose item you see, as most of them will eventually be handy. Your first priority is to find a small tree, bash through the leaves if needed, and punch the wood until each block drops as an item. Don't bother with huge trees at this point, but also don't be upset if you can't reach the top blocks of wood -- you can always come back and collect them later. This first tree should give you at least 4 blocks of wood ("logs"). You'll punch more wood in a moment, but it's probably best to make a couple of tools first.
 Your first crafting
As the game's name suggests, crafting is core to Minecraft. While there is a small number of items that can be crafted directly from the inventory, a Crafting table is required to craft tools and most other items in the game. Naturally, the crafting table can be crafted from the inventory!
Then place some of the wood in the 2x2 crafting square above your inventory. This will produce planks:
The planks will be different colors depending on what sort of wood you have. Different types of wood don't stack together, but all work the same. With a couple of exceptions (slabs, stairs) you can mix and match different planks when crafting. In particular, sticks don't care what sort of wood they came from, they all stack together.
Left clicking on the plank icon will craft four planks for each click, using up one log. (If you hold down shift and click left mouse button it will convert all the wood you put there into planks.) At this point, you want to convert at least 3 logs into planks, and you can do more if you want. If you want to save some logs, click on the remaining wood in your 2x2 crafting square and return it to your inventory. Click on the planks you just crafted and instead of left clicking, right click once in each of your four crafting squares. (This drops one item, instead of all items, each click.) Return the remainder to your inventory. Another option is to get 4 planks, right click and hold on a square in the crafting grid, and drag it around the grid until all 4 squares are filled.
You should see this:
Click on the result and place it in an empty square of your hotbar.
Press ESC or E to return to the world view and walk to a spot you think appropriate, select your newly crafted crafting table with either the mouse wheel or number key(123456789, not the keypad), point at a flat square of ground (not directly where you are standing) and right click. This will place your crafting table on the ground ready for use. If you wish to pick it up again to move it, left click and hold to mine it and then walk near the produced icon to pick it up.
 A word about crafting squares
Whatever you craft on a 2*2 crafting square, such as the one in the inventory, you can also craft in a 3*3 crafting square, like the crafting table. There is no need to open up your inventory to craft a 2*2 recipe if you have a crafting table open. Simply choose any of the four smaller, 2*2 squares that you can infer on the big crafting table.
 Your first tool
In order to collect stone and coal, the next staple resources, you will need a pickaxe. Your first pickaxe will be made of wood; not very durable or fast, but until you collect some stone, which is why you need a pickaxe in the first place, it's all you have.
You will need at least five planks to make one wooden pickaxe. Use your crafting table by right clicking on where you placed it. Your crafting table view is similar to your inventory view, except you now have a more useful 3x3 crafting space. First we need to make a handle for your pickaxe. To do this, pick up a stack of planks and place one above another anywhere in your crafting square. Two planks produces four sticks:
To create your pickaxe, you'll use some of the planks and sticks you've just made. Arrange them in positions shown on the picture below.
You may have noticed that in order to craft a pickaxe, you more or less draw it with its components in your crafting square. Other items are crafted in a similar fashion. At this point, you could go on to create a wooden axe, but you're better off going straight for stone....
 Better Tools
Once you've crafted a pickaxe, you can successfully acquire cobblestone to make better tools. Start by finding stone in the world; it should be fairly easy, as it's extremely common. If you don't see any on the surface, dig down in a staircase fashion or in a hole two blocks wide so you can see where you might fall - it is highly recommended not to dig straight down in a one block hole. Mine the stone with your pickaxe; it will drop as cobblestone items. Mine 3 blocks, then craft your stone pickaxe as below, then mine another 16 blocks or more, and continue with your tools: Besides the pickaxe, you want a stone sword, an axe, a shovel, a hoe, and a furnace. (If you're running a couple of blocks short, you can skip the hoe, since that won't be useful until you start farming.)
Using sticks and cobblestone, you can now make some stone tools:
 Crafting Stone Tools
A stone pickaxe is more durable and more efficient than a wooden pickaxe. You will use it to mine stone (and other "rocky" blocks).
Shovels are mainly used to break dirt, grass, sand, clay, and gravel blocks quicker than by hand. They also allow for the collection of snowballs when used on snow covering grass blocks in snow biomes
 More resources
Now, you should gather more wood, using your new stone axe. Don't turn it all into planks up front -- you may need a few logs for charcoal (see below). Although some trees (and their wood) look different than others, all wood functions the same. However, different kinds of wood don't stack together, which can take up extra inventory space. You might notice also that the tree's leaf blocks slowly disappear, or decay after you cut down all the wood. When the leaves decay when all wood blocks are destroyed, they can drop a sapling, or rarely an apple (Apples only drop from Oak Tree Leaves). Later on, you can use saplings to grow more trees, but just save them for now. For now, harvest a decent amount of wood (perhaps 16 blocks or so, but mind the sun). While you're at it, you should also dig (with the shovel) 16 or so blocks of dirt, in case you need to make a pillar or a quick wall when night comes.
If the sun is still in the sky, explore immediate vicinity for some stone with black specks in it. This is coal, another essential item in Minecraft which can be used to create torches and more. If you cannot find some, don't worry: you can make charcoal from wood blocks in a furnace. Charcoal has the same properties as coal.
You aren't too much in need of iron right now, but if you do find any iron ore (looks like stone with tan specks), go for it (you do need the stone pickaxe first). Don't be greedy -- if it's over a large cave or ravine, much less next to lava, leave it for later.
You will probably see other animals, such as cows, pigs and chickens. Kill a couple of these with your new sword to get a bit of food, and (from sheep) wool. Don't slaughter too many critters (they don't replenish themselves), but try to get 3-8 pieces of meat, and (if there are sheep) 3 pieces of wool. Ocelots, Wolves, and Horses are tamable animals, but you're not equipped to tame them yet, they don't drop food, and for wolves in particular, if you attack one of them, the whole pack will attack you. Just remember where you saw them and move on. If you're already hungry (your food bar is rippling), you can eat a piece or two of steak or pork raw, but otherwise save the meat to cook later; cooked food is much better than raw, and raw chicken in particular can give you food poisoning.
Chickens, Pig, and Cows (or Mooshrooms) all drop meat, which you can cook later. (Chickens also drop feathers, and Cows leather -- just pick them up and save them for later.) Sheep drop wool, which you can use to make a bed and skip the night altogether. (Later you will be able to make shears, to get wool from sheep without killing them.) Once you've got 3 wool (that's all you need for now), immediately pull out your crafting table, and craft a bed:
 Crafting a Bed
The type of wood or color of wool doesn't matter (and won't change the appearance of the bed). A bed has two main purposes: Firstly, it lets you skip past nights (and even thunderstorms). Note that while the time of day will change, otherwise no time will pass while you are sleeping -- furnaces won't finish, and plants and animals won't grow. You will not be able to sleep if there are already monsters within about 8 blocks of your bed. The other thing a bed does, is to set your spawn point (where you reappear when you die), but that part only works if you leave the bed there. So for the first night, you might just use the bed and then take it with you, but eventually you will want a safe shelter where you can sleep in your bed and leave it there permanently.
Key points about beds (see the Bed page for more details):
- To place a bed, you just need two solid opaque blocks. Most of your building blocks are OK, but glass, leaves, slabs or stairs, and a few others are not opaque -- you will simply not be able to place the bed on them.
- To safely sleep in a bed, you also need a free space to wake up on, either next to the bed (as below), or at least on top of it. If there is no such space, you will wake up on top of the bed regardless of the blocks there, which may leave you suffocating. Note that beds themselves are transparent, so the bottom of a bunk bed is OK.
- To respawn at a bed, you also need a free space next to the bed (one of the 10 adjacent blocks). This means a solid, opaque block which you can stand on, at the bed's floor level. (You cannot respawn on top of the bed.) If the bed doesn't have such a space when you die, you'll come back near the world spawn point ("Your home bed was missing or obstructed"). This also means that to be usable, the top bed of a bunk bed would need a block next to the lower bed, with standing room on top of that. As that message implies, this will also happen if the bed itself is gone or moved, so obstruction doesn't matter if you were planning to take the bed with you anyway.
- If you do get the "missing or obstructed" message, your spawn point is lost even if you put the bed back or fix the obstructions: you need to actually sleep in the fixed bed to set a new spawn point.
 Heat before light
Initially, your sole light source in caves and at night will be torches. These are made from coal and sticks. If you haven't found coal, you will need to make charcoal instead. Either way, you will also want to cook your meat before you get hungry.
Place your furnace somewhere (say, next to the crafting table) so you can work with it. As it is made with cobblestone, you will have to use your pickaxe to collect it if you wish to relocate your furnace. If you have coal, you can skip making charcoal, and go straight to cooking your meat, but that uses the same system.
To make charcoal, you have to smelt blocks (logs) of wood. right-click on your furnace and add a fuel in the bottom slot and the wood in the top slot. At this point your fuel of choice is probably wooden planks, two of which will smelt 3 items (logs, meat, ore, etc). However, you can also burn your wooden tools, each of which will smelt one log (or other item). Craft any wood into wooden planks when using them as fuel. Wood Logs smelt the same as planks (2 will smelt 3 items) so it is more efficient to craft them into planks before using them as fuel. Put your items to be smelted (in this case blocks of wood), in the top slot. When you place both fuel and something smeltable in the furnace, fire will appear and smelting will start immediately. You don't need to have the furnace window open, you can hit Esc to exit the furnace window and do something else while smelting continues. When the furnace's fire dies down, right-click it again to retrieve the output.
Once you have your first pieces of charcoal, use that as fuel any time you have 8 or more items to smelt. Each piece will smelt 8 items (like mined coal), and you have other uses for planks.
Make about 6 pieces of charcoal. Each piece of charcoal (and coal, they are equivalent) can smelt 8 blocks, so it pays off more to use them, rather than wooden planks as a fuel. However if there are less than 8 blocks to be smelted in the furnace, the coal/charcoal will continue to burn, wasting fuel when there are no items left to be smelted.
Now you can cook your food and make torches. Ration out a piece of coal/charcoal for the food, and cook the food just like smelting the wood above: food in the upper input box, fuel (coal) in the lower one.
Now you're prepared to light up your shelter.
 Bed and shelter
If you have made a bed, nightfall is easy: As soon as sunset begins, place your bed, sleep in it by right-clicking on it, and continue with crafting and smelting the next day. (Hint: Music plays at dawn, noon, sunset, and midnight.) It's probably good to set up a shelter anyway, but if you run out of time, you can sleep anywhere, as long as there aren't already monsters near you.
If you have no bed, and you didn't have time to build something secure, you will probably have to spend your first night in an emergency shelter. For some of these options, you can make torches and cook food overnight, but for the underground options, you really want to have some torches handy before you close yourself into the darkness.
 Atop a Pillar
Build a tall 1x1 column under you, by pillar jumping: look straight down, jump up, and place one of your blocks in the space you've jumped up from. By doing this repeatedly, you can get high enough above the ground that the mobs will be unable to detect you. You can make the pillar out of dirt, wood planks (remember, 4 planks to a log), or even cobblestone, but avoid using sand or gravel to make your tower (see below).
Going 10 or 12 blocks up will usually be enough, 16 is safer (skeleton range), and 20 or 30 is more certain. (As of 1.6 zombies can still track you 30 blocks up, but they will not be able to hurt you while you are on the pillar). You will then need to wait until morning. You can also use "crouching" (holding ⇧ Shift) put an extra block or two as a ledge. Crouching lets you "lean" over the edge of your pillar so that you can see the side of the top block, which then lets you place a block there (without releasing the shift key!). Then you can put your crafting table (and soon, your furnace) on the ledge and work overnight. (Alternatively, you can just stick them to the side of the pillar.) Remember to retrieve them before you come down! You can look around and see what's happening overnight, but try to avoid putting your crosshairs on an Enderman.
Watch out for climbing Spiders or even (unlikely) a Spider Jockey. To fend off spiders, you can break one of the blocks below your top block, or build a lip around the block you're standing on. You do either of these by crouching and placing or breaking blocks as aboveYou will not fall unless you let go of the shift key while leaning over the edge... or unless you are attacked, so don't do this if a spider is actually getting close to you (or if your tower is under 20 blocks and a skeleton is at the base). If a spider does climb the pillar, they're fairly unlikely to actually reach you, but, just in case, keep your stone sword in hand and whack them as soon as they come into reach, before they get up to you. (Attacking them will knock them down, and they will then take damage from the fall.)
Once it is light enough, and the undead have burned, simply dig out the blocks you're perched upon, until you're back on the ground. (Check for nearby creepers and other monsters first!) Don't just jump off your tower - if you're high enough to avoid mob detection then you're high enough to take damage if you jump, or even die if you're 22 blocks or more up. Also keep an eye out for spiders, which can meet you halfway and knock you off the tower. If a creeper is hanging out at the base of your pillar, and you have more blocks, try going even higher -- 30, 40 blocks, or even up to cloud level. This will make monsters on the ground despawn far more quickly (because they are now farther away from you).
The reason not to use sand or gravel, is because unlike most blocks, they are affected by gravity: You won't be able to place a ledge with them, as it will fall to the ground. (However, you can put a dirt block on the side of a sand pillar, and that will stay up even if the pillar doesn't. In particular, if a creeper does notice you, and blows up at the bottom of your pillar, the rest of sand you're standing on will fall closer to the ground, taking you with it... and apparently, you were already low enough for monsters to notice you. (Also, a passing Enderman might pull a block out of your pillar.) If you're really stuck and only have sand or gravel, make the pillar extra-tall, at least 20 blocks.
If you are in a desert with only sand and cacti all around, and have no other blocks available, don't try to use cacti (they'll kill you). If you have time, try to gather a lot of sand to make sandstone. If you got at least 40 or 50 sand (a full stack of 64 is better) by nightfall, you can make enough sandstone for a pillar, even without your crafting table: Press E for your inventory and crafting window, divide the sand among all four boxes of your crafting grid, and take the sandstone. (Use your pickaxe to take down the tower in the morning.) Unfortunately, you need 4 sand to get each block of sandstone.
 Up a tree
Find a large single tree; and use dirt to pillar up to the top and stay up there till day arrives. Jungle, tall spruce, and large oak trees are recommended. Mobs will not spot you if it is a large enough tree and if they do, just take evasive action and move to the other side of the tree. Spiders could give you a problem, but hopefully, they won't see you. If the leaf canopy is big enough, you can actually dig up into the leaves, where monsters can't reach you. When night's over, you can chop down the tree. Take care not to chop it down before you are done using it as a shelter, or the leaves may start to disappear, leaving you with nowhere to stand.
 Three block high hut
By making four three block high walls around you, you can simply hide from most mobs. Adding a roof (at the third block, that is 2 blocks high inside) will protect against Endermen (which can't fit) and spiders, which can otherwise climb the walls. You can make this out of almost anything -- cobblestone is more secure, you can use wood planks if you have enough, but even dirt will do in a pinch. You'll need at least a dozen blocks for a bare minimum, but two or three times that, or even a whole stack of 64, will let you build something you can actually move around in, and do some crafting and smelting overnight (Keep a block or few in your inventory as spares). You will have two main risks: One is Spiders, which can both sense you through the walls, and climb the walls. However, they can't fit through small holes, and if you make a roof with only a one-block hole, spiders can't get through (but you can still tell when day returns). The other hazard is if an Enderman wanders by and takes a block out of your shelter. Wait for the Enderman to wander away a bit, then replace the block, with one of your spares, if possible without letting your cursor cross the Enderman ("looking at them"). When full daylight comes, mine a door in your wall, and exit. Keep a wary eye out for monsters, and in particular be prepared to run very fast away from creepers.
 Hole in the wall
Dig a hole in the side of a cliff or hill. Make it at least 3 blocks deep. Then go inside the hole. You can keep digging as far as you can, if you want, but try to get at least 7 or 8 blocks in from the entrance (to hide from creepers) But when you see the sun start to set, fill in your entrance. If it is at least 3 blocks high and you are a good distance off the ground (8+ blocks) then you can leave a one-block window. Otherwise, it is safer to wait until night is over (you can wait 8 minutes clock time). If you don't have a window, mine one of your blocks every now and then, and check if it is still night. If it is, fill it back in and repeat. quickly, and don't try digging too deep yet. If it is daytime, then congratulations: You have survived your first night. To pass time, you could try extend your makeshift shelter, but be ready to seal up holes if you break through into a cave or out to the night. Also, avoid too much jumping, which spends your hunger quickly.
 In a cave
If you found a cave system you can fix it up into a lair -- a good one can make a base for the rest of your game. If it ends quickly, then cap off your entrance. If it does not end, then build a little shelter around you [usually by capping off any extra exits or openings into the depths. Don't worry too much about the natural walls of the cave; monsters can still be heard through the walls pretty loudly, but they can't come through unless you leave an opening.
To block the cave off, for your first night you can use walls of dirt or cobblestone similarly to the "hole in the wall". If you have enough wood, you may be able to craft fences and a fence gate and place them across the entrance and any openings in back. Make sure you place the walls or fences behind the upper lip of the cave (or extend the ceiling over the barrier), or monsters are liable to "drop in" inside your barrier. Likewise, remove any stray blocks, within two spaces outside the fence, from which monster could jump onto the fence (try the jump yourself). If using fences, also make sure you can retreat into the cave and away from the entrance (out of sight or 16 blocks away), or a creeper may drop by and just wait for you to come out. Later, you can be more sophisticated about sealing off and fortifying your lair.
As with "Hole in the wall", you can dig into the cave's wall while waiting for dawn, but keep some blocks handy to patch up any openings you might make into another cave while digging, which might have a hostile mob in it. If you place your pickaxe in the quickslot bar (used to navigate quickly between items you are carrying in your inventory) and e.g. dirt is placed right next to it, you can quickly switch between your tool and that block type in order to close the hole you just made. This can be extremely handy when you stumble upon an opening which contains mobs.
 Out to Sea
If you are near an ocean, you can make a boat and sail out to where you can barely see land (in any direction). If you can't make a boat, you can just swim out, holding the space bar all night to keep yourself afloat. Either way, you won't be getting any crafting or smelting done.
 Break The Golden Rule
Remember the golden rule we talked about before? Well, when you're desperate, you can break it a little. Dig three blocks down, and put a block above you that is not sand/gravel. Congrats, you just made the fastest shelter in Minecraft possible. Since you probably don't have a Minecraft clock yet, you may want to use a real-world clock to time the night (7 minutes, with up to 3 more to allow for dawn/dusk). If you have dirt or stone next to you, you can dig out a couple of blocks there, and place your crafting table and furnace. A torch will make your little hideyhole feel a little less like a tomb....
 Changing The Rules
If you're desperate, you can press the Escape key to pause the game, go into the Options menu, and change the difficulty to "peaceful". Though many players consider it cheating, it's a sure-fire way to make sure mobs don't spawn.
 At Dusk
Make sure you are in (or on) a suitable shelter or hideout with at least some wood, a crafting table, a furnace, a sword (any type will do), some food (probably uncooked meat at this point), and at least 1 torch. If you do have a bed, definitely sleep in it and cook your food the next morning -- if monsters show up, you may not be able to sleep later.
It might get boring, but please try to limit jumping & sprinting in your shelter, which will conserve your hunger. If you don't have coal or charcoal yet, you may want to smelt 3 logs first, but then go on to cook your food. If you've only got 3 or 4 food or you have no coal/charcoal, use planks, otherwise use coal or charcoal:
If you have more fuel than items to smelt (say, 2 food for planks, or 6 for coal), you will probably be wasting some fuel, but that can be OK for your first night, just do your best to be efficient.
If you have a couple of logs (or 8 planks) left over after making torches and bed, you can also make a chest to stash items you don't want to carry around just in case of death:
A chest isn't really necessary for your first night, but it will become very helpful over the next day or few.
Wait for full light, wield your sword, and carefully leave your shelter. Hopefully, it will be sunny, but even so, watch out for any remaining monsters -- this may well be your first fight. If you see spiders, don't panic, they will hopefully have become peaceful in the sun (you can try to kill them for their string). If you see a creeper, your best bet at this point is to run at least 16 blocks away from it, and wait for it to go away (or explode, if it got too close before you got away). If you see any skeletons or zombies (hiding under trees or in water), stay away from them -- skeletons can still shoot at you if you are too close (16 blocks or so), and either skeletons or zombies may come out from shade to attack you even as they burn. WARNING: If a burning zombie touches you, you will be set on fire!. If this happens, flee and jump into any nearby (monster-free) water. Once you're out and clear of monsters, look around for and collect bones, arrows, or rotten flesh which may have been dropped by burning skeletons and zombies.
If it is not sunny, you may have worse problems: You may need to kill zombies or even skeletons (or just retreat back in your shelter until the sun comes out). Zombies are traditionally easy, but in version 1.5 have gotten rather more aggressive, and as of version 1.6 they can spawn other zombies when in danger; skeletons are tougher, and have been made even more so in 1.5. Neither will burn in the rain, but at least the zombies can't set you afire.
Assuming you made it out of the shelter, congratulations! You've survived your first night in Minecraft! Within the next day or two, you should have acquired some iron armor and better weapons, which will take a lot of the terror out of nighttime. You can also make a more secure shelter, and hopefully a bed.
 After the first Day
A tutorial for your next day is available here: the Second Day. Following are some general tips:
 Home safety
By the end of the first day the shelter will likely be primitive and small. In the days afterwards, you will be able to build a better home, in any of various forms. Some natural extensions include a back door, windows, a surrounding fence, and even traps for monsters. Remember that any time you pick up your bed, your spawn point will revert to the default, until you not only place, but sleep in a bed again.
Eventually, you will need to venture belowground to gather iron and other resources. While there are many more advanced mining techniques, the most basic way to find ores is by entering a cave and exploring.
 Finding A Cave
You have no problems if you have just spent your night in a cave. If you haven't, the easiest way to do so is to roam the Overworld a little and look out for exposed cave entrances. Extreme Hills biomes will have caves inside mountains, but these are generally not what you want, because only coal ore will appear above sea level (Y=64). For iron and better ores, you'll want to find a cave opening into the ground (these are quite common) and head downwards. Sometimes such caves end immediately, but often they continue into big cave systems. If they seem to end right away sometimes there will be a continuation about 2-8 blocks farther back and below the cave's end; mining in these directions (8 blocks back and down, exploring somewhat to the sides) will reveal this if it is the case. Digging away gravel or dirt can also expose cave extensions, but you may go through a few shovels that way. If you can't find any all day, just sleep away the night, replenishing your resources like wood and food as you use them. If you hear suspicious, hostile noises, just try to listen and follow them.
 Cave Exploration
Cave exploration is pretty straightforward: you light up your way with torches, mine up ores as you see them (check Ores and Minerals) and kill enemies as you encounter them (see Tutorials/Combat for details). There are also some important techniques that might not be obvious to a new player, such as using waterfalls to descend into shafts, and/or swim back up from them. There are also many options for marking your trail and not getting lost.
 Ores and minerals
There are certain materials that can only be found underground and are crucial to gameplay. On your first day, you are likely to see only coal and perhaps iron ore, but it's worth knowing about all of them.
Coal is an important material used to make torches and to smelt/cook items. You have to mine it in order not to run out of torches while cave exploring. One stack (64 lumps) will be an ample supply, but in practice, you can start with less and mine more as you go. Long-term, it's worth accumulating a stack or few, as once you get seriously into mining, you'll be using a lot. Coal is not strictly necessary since you can make charcoal from wood, but it is common, and you have plenty of other things to do with wood. This is the only ore that appears above sea level (anywhere there is stone), and it is often visible in stone outcrops on the surface or even on mountains.
Iron is probably the most important and versatile resource you can find underground. You can use it to craft good quality tools, armor and a plethora of other things. Gather as much of it as possible, but it needs a stone pickaxe or better to mine it, so be careful not to use a wooden pick on it. Once you have some iron ore, make a base with a furnace to smelt it into iron ingots, that you can then craft. First of all craft a pickaxe, a sword, and a bucket (fill it with water), then craft iron armor. This will take a total of 32 ingots, half a stack. If you have extra, go on to make shears, another bucket (to hold a second water source or stray lava, and perhaps an iron shovel or other tools. Crafting recipes can be found here. (Note that two water buckets can be used to create an "infinite water source" -- place them diagonally in a 2×2 hole.)
Gold, Lapis Lazuli, and Redstone are more specialized ores—gold and redstone need an iron pick, and lapis benefits from one. You don't really need them much at the beginning, so you don't have to mine them at first. Also, they are only found in deeper parts of the caves. Once you do have a little gold and Redstone, probably the first things you'll want to use them for are a compass (iron+redstone), a clock (gold+redstone), and some golden apples (gold+apples). Once you find some sugar cane, you can add a map (paper+compass) to keep track of your explorations and help avoid getting lost.
Diamond is a very rare mineral, probably the most-sought resource in Minecraft. It can be crafted into very durable and quick tools, and vastly superior armor. The ore can be found at the very bottom of the world, the bottom 15 layers of the map, and requires an iron pickaxe to mine. Once you hit bedrock (unbreakable blocks letting off floating gray particles) climb back up about 10 levels and mine around for a while before slowly making your way down one level at a time. At levels 5 and below, you'll be working around bedrock, so it's better to keep above that -- indeed, it's safer to explore at level 11 or above to avoid lava. A good way to check what level you are currently on is to press F3 to show the debug screen, and read the Y-axis value. Note that the player's eyes are 1.62 units above his feet, but as of version 1.3.1, the F3 screen shows both eye and foot heights.
Emeralds are normally gained (and used) by trading with villagers, but scattered blocks of the ore can also be found beneath "Extreme Hills" biomes. Emerald ore is found at the same depths as gold ore, and likewise requires an iron pickaxe. It is not used for tools, or much else besides trading.
 Things you'll need over time
This is a quick list of some things you will need or want to do over the next few days or longer, not necessarily in this order:
- If you haven't already, gather iron for a sword, buckets, armor, and other tools.
- If you haven't already, get wool to make a bed.
- Collect more wood, coal, and iron for more crafting.
- Over time, delve deeper for the more advanced ores, and eventually diamonds.
- Start hunting monsters for resources:
- Spiders for string. You need this for bows, fishing rods, and leads. If you still haven't found sheep, 12 string can be crafted into the 3 wool you need for a bed.
- Skeletons for bones and arrows.
- Zombies mostly drop dog food, but occasionally will drop a carrot or potato which you can start a farm with.
- Start setting up a wheat farm. Eventually you will add other crops -- in particular, carrots and potatoes as you get them from zombies. Pumpkins are also useful, and can be found in any of several biomes.
- Gather sugar cane for maps and books (you will also need iron and redstone for maps, and leather for books). Don't gather all you find; instead, replant at least half your harvest as single blocks (that is, leave more canes growing than you harvested), so you'll have lots when it's time to make maps and books for enchanting.
- Start fencing animals into farm pens, using their food items to lure them and then breed them. Cows (also Mooshrooms) and sheep eat wheat, pigs eat carrots (you won't have those at first), and chickens eat seeds (you've probably picked some up already from breaking grass). Chickens can also be hatched from eggs, which they occasionally lay. Of these, chickens and cows are probably most important; Besides meat, chickens provide feathers for arrows, while cows or Mooshrooms provide leather for books and other useful items.
- Collect saplings, and grow some trees of your own in some convenient spot. Saplings drop randomly when leaf blocks are destroyed or decay naturally (after you chop down their tree).
- Craft a boat for travelling the many waterways in your world.
- Take up fishing during rainstorms. (The rate of catching anything doubles if the water you are fishing in is being rained on.) Aside from the fish themselves, as of version 1.7 this will occasionally get you saddles and name tags (otherwise quite hard to find), along with extra bits of leather and string. (Don't eat the pufferfish!) Fishing in a small pool is possible but awkward, and properly fencing a large pool is difficult, but there are two options that are fairly easy for beginners:
- Take a boat out onto an ocean or large lake, well away from land in any direction. You want to be at least 20 blocks from land, and if you're within 30-odd blocks of land, you may have to deal with occasional swimming zombies.)
- Build a fishing tower with a platform on top near any large river, ocean, or lake. You don't need a full building, you can do fine with a pillar (stone or wood) with a ladder leading up to a platform on top. (You can also modify a tall tree to the purpose.) Add a few fences for safety, optionally a roof (lightning is unlikely to hit you, but it does happen), and you have a nice secure spot to fish from, even during thunderstorms and at night.
- A larger and more advanced home, with doors (plural, a back door is really helpful), windows (glass or fencing), storage rooms, and space for the enchanting table and bookshelves you'll eventually make.
- Tame some animals: Each sort is found in specific biomes, and needs specific foods to tame them, bring a fair amount:
- For cats, you need to find a jungle and bring raw fish. These are mostly annoying, but have the unique ability to chase off creepers.
- For dogs you need to prowl forests or taiga with a batch of bones. These can help you fight monsters! (But not creepers.)
- Horses can be found in plains; you will need a saddle (as of 1.7, try fishing for one). Any of several foods will do, but wheat or bread is probably easiest. Note that breeding horses is more difficult, and requires both gold, and carrots or apples.
 Tutorial videos
- Most efficient First day tutorial 1.6.2 (tnthost)
- The First Day in Minecraft 1.0.0 (SecretRevelation)
- The First Day (Beginners' Essentials) (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Minecraft The First 10 Minutes (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Your First Shelter in Minecraft (Tutorial Machinima)
- Minecraft: Building a Starting House (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Minecraft Efficient Farm (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Getting Used To The Minecraft Crafting List 101
- basic First day tutorial (Macdeezy1996)