Rubik’s Cube Beginners Guide
Below I will describe a beginning method for solving the standard 3×3 Rubik’s Cube. This guide was originally written in 2006, so by the time you read it, new techniques and methods may have developed. Nevertheless, hopefully it will help you achieve your goal of solving the Rubik’s Cube.
On many of the algorithms, I have provided an animated cube to show you exactly what the algorithms are doing. To view the animated cube, you’ll need Java. Most computers already have Java, but if the animated cubes aren’t loading, refresh the page. If they still don’t load, please go to http://www.java.com to get the latest version of Java. To prevent many of the applets from loading simultaneously, click the Show/Hide links to view the animated cubes. When you click “Click here to show applet”, wait about 5 seconds for the applet to load. If nothing shows up, click hide, then click show again. Once one applet loads the others should load faster. If you want to watch the cube applet perform the algorithm, just click the “Play” button under the corresponding applet. If you want to just watch 1 move at a time, click the “|Play” button. Using the method described on this page, you can average below 1 minute with little practice, and can cut that in half with more practice. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about improving the guide, please send me an email by clicking on the “Contact” page. Thanks for looking!
Preliminary Information: When you first pick up a Rubik’s Cube, you need to know some information about it before you can solve it. First, each piece has a specific position. There is only 1 specific position for each piece. Second, the centers do not move. So the piece in the center of each side defines the color of that side. On a standard 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube, there are 8 corners pieces (a corner is a piece that has 3 different colors/sides/stickers), 12 edge pieces (an edge has 2 different colors/sides/stickers) , and 6 centers. There are multiple kinds of Rubik’s Cubes, so the color schemes will vary. For example, on my cube, white is opposite of yellow, red opposite of orange, etc. On a different type of cube, you may see white opposite of blue, etc. No matter what color scheme your cube is, you can use this guide to solve your cube.
Notation: To allow me to explain how to move/rotate the cube, there is certain notation you will need to know, it is pretty simple:
Below are applets of various lowercase moves. Click the play button to see the move be performed.
These rotations are if you were looking at that face. So a B move would be a 90 degree clockwise turn of the back as if you were looking at that face.
To learn algorithms, the key is to understand what is really happening. Don’t just try to look at the screen and perform the algorithm, but also look at the cube to see where the pieces are moving. This takes practice, but once you get it, it will help you understand the cube a lot more.
The first thing you need to do is form a cross on any side of the cube. Most people form a cross on the white face, simply because it is easiest to see. To form a cross, the first thing you need to do is find the face you are building the cross on. In the white case, find the white center. Once you have found the white center, find the 4 edges that have white on them. An edge has two faces (two different colors), while a corner has 3 faces (3 different colors) , so make sure you know the difference. Now take those edges (4 of them) with white on them, mess around the cube to make those 4 edges link up with the white center. Typically, as a beginner, you solve the cross in two steps: first you have all the white edges surround the white center, and then you move edges around into their correct postions. Once you become more advanced, you will be able to solve the cross (with all edges lined up correctly with its corresponding center) in 8 moves or less, no matter how scambled the cube is. Once you have the white cross solved, rotate the cube that the cross is on the D face. Now what you need to do is line up each edge with its corresponding center, so that your cube will look like this (notice the white cross on the down face):
All the gray areas are irrelevant at this point of the solve. To accomplish the above task, you may have to do an algorithm. If your cube has none of the edges/centers lined up correctly with the corresponding center(s), turn the D face to line up 2 of the centers/edges. You will always be able to have at least two edges lined up with a D, D’, or D2 move. If your cube has two of the edges correctly lined up that are adjacent to each other, hold cube like this:
And this perform this algorithm: R D R’ D’ R
If you cube has two edges correctly lined up with the centers but that are opposite, perform the above algorithm twice, or you can hold cube as shown in the applet below and perform R2 U2 L2 U2 R2:
Move all the corners into their correct position. This is the task you want to accomplish:
Hold the cross on the D face at all times. To insert a corner into its correct spot, put the corner right above where you would want to insert it (Ex. If you want to move a corner to FRD, put that corner in FRU). To insert a corner where you would just move the corner down with a F turn (the white part of the corner is on the R face), perform this algorithm:
R U R’
To insert a corner when the white part of the corner is on top, perform this:
R U2 R’ U’ R U R’
To insert a corner that has the white part on the F face, perform this:
U R U’ R’
The goal of this step it to move the 4 middle slice edges into position. After you finish this step, your cube will look like this:
The first thing to do in this step is locate the edge you need to insert. Look around in the U slice to find an edge that needs to be inserted into the middle slice of the cube. Line up that edge with the corresponding center. For example, look at this diagram:
I found the green/red edge, and then I lined it up with the corresponding center (green in this case). Say you have a blue/orange edge piece, and the blue is on the upper face. Then line up orange with the orange center. Now hold what you just lined up on the R face (as shown in the diagram above). If you want that edge to be insert to the back slot, perform this algorithm:
R U R U R U’ R’ U’ R’
To insert the edge to the front slot, perform this algorithm:
R’ U’ R’ U’ R’ U R U R
Repeat the above instructions for each edge, until your cube looks like the diagram at the beginning of this step. Remember, these two algorithms are taking a piece from the U slice, and moving it into the middle slice. Basically, you are looking in the U slice for any edge piece that doesn’t have yellow on it. If a piece is incorrectly flipped into the middle slice, you may have to pull it out, and then put it back in correctly. To do this, just perform one of the algorithms above to insert a “dummy edge” in, which pulls out the piece you want, and then re-line up that edge piece to be put into the middle slice correctly.
The main goal for step 4 is to get the entire U face a solid color, as shown here:
This step is probably the hardest step to understand as a beginner. Once you finish the first two layers, this is the step that comes about. The first thing you want to do is solve all the edges, you want to “oriente” them, AKA flipping them up correctly, as shown here:
To get here, you will most likely have to perform an algorithm. Check it see if you have an orientation as shown in one of the two diagrams below:
If you have a yellow line, hold it as shown above. Then perform:
F R U R’ U’ F’
If you have the V like situation, hold it so that the V is point towards the FRU corner (as shown above), and perform:
F U R U’ R’ F’
After you perform one of those, all the edges in the U slice should be solved.
The next part of this step is to flip all the corners correctly. You will now have one of these situations (remember, the grey areas are irrelevant–the diagrams below are top views of the cube, looking at the U face. Hold the cube so the image below is the U face):
If you have the one on the left, hold it as shown and perform R’ U2 R U R’ U R. If you have the one on the right, hold it as shown and perform R’ U’ R U’ R’ U2 R. Basically what those two algorithms are doing is flipping 3 corner piece clockwise or counter-clockwise.
If you don’t see exactly either of the situations above, you will have those of these (which is really one of the situations above, they just look different):
If you have any of those above, hold it as shown and perform R’ U2 R U R’ U R and it will give you a setup of one of the two situations above.
This will complete the solve of the cube. After this step, you will have a solved cube. You need to “permute” or move the upper face edges and corners around into their correct position. To do this, we will first work with the corners. You want to start swapping two corners at a time to move them into their correct positions. This is the algorithm you will use to accomplish this, which will switch the ULF and ULB corners:
Perform: x R2 D2 R U R’ D2 R U’ R B x’ (x is a rotation of the cube as if you were doing an R move.)
Remember, the algorithm swaps the corners in ULF and ULB positions. You may have to use this algorithm twice or three times to solve all 4 corners.
Now that all the corners are solved, you will need to solve the remained edges. To do this, you will cylce three edges at a time. You will either have to solve 3 edges or all 4 edges in the U layer. If you have to solve all 4, then do either of the cycle algorithms below. If you have to solve 3, then look at the cube to see which way the edges need to be cycled: clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Remember, the images above at top views of the cube. Hold it so that the yellow is the U face. If you have the situation on the left, hold the cube so that white is on the bottom, yellow on top, and the other solved face is on the back. Now perform:
F2 U L R’ F2 L’ R U F2
If you have the situation on the right, hold it as described above, and perform:
F2 U’ L R’ F2 L’ R U’ F2
There you have it, you should have a solved cube. If you followed the instructions above correctly, and your cube is not solved, your cube may have been taken apart and reassembled correctly. To disassemble your cube, follow the instructions here. Do this carefully, and at your own risk. It is quite interesting to see how a cube is made nonetheless. I’d recommend you look at the example solve below. I did a solve with this method and explained each step.
I have put together this entire guide into 1 printable page. It mainly just has diagrams and algorithms, all of which are explained above. After you understand which algorithm is needed for certain situations, this printable page will become very handy: Click here for Printable page
If you have any suggestions, comments, or recommendations with this guide, please contact me. I would like to know what I need to correct/add to make these instructions easier to understand. If you’re interested in speedsolving the cube now (getting times close to 10 seconds), please checkout the speedsolving.com, where thousands of puzzle solvers discuss this type of stuff. Have fun!
A special thanks goes out to http://www.randelshofer.ch/ for the CubePlayer Applets.
When I am scrambling, I am holding red on front, yellow on top, but it doesn’t matter how you hold it.
Scramble: B2 L’ B D2 R’ L U L B2 F D B2 U D2 F U L2 B D F2 R F U L2 B2
Cross: L’ F2 B’ R B’ D’ R
–Extension: D’ y2 R D R’ D’ R
Now for the corner inserts (orange front, yellow top):
Work with the blue/red/white corner since I see that first.
Blue/Red/White: d’ R U2 R’ U’ R U R’
Green/Orange/White: d2 R U2 R’ U’ R U R’
Blue/Orange/White: d2 y’ R U2 R’ U’ R U R’
Last corner was already placed.
Edge inserts (orange front, yellow top):
First I look for any edge that doesn’t have yellow on it. First I see is blue/red.
Blue/Red: d2 y’ R’ U’ R’ U’ R’ U R U R
I did d2 to line up the blue with the blue center, and y’ to rotate the cube so that is being held at the right. Then I inserted into the front slot.
Blue/Orange: y’ R’ U’ R’ U’ R’ U R U R
Green/Red: d’ R U R U R U’ R’ U’ R’
Green/Red was inserted into the back slot.
Green/Orange: y2 R’ U’ R’ U’ R’ U R U R
Oriente top (green front, yellow top):
y F U R U’ R’ F’
I had the V, so I did a y move to rotate it pointing towards the FRU corner. Then performed that algorithm.
Now I have this setup:
I have to do a y’ move to have the cube in that position. So:
y’ R’ U2 R U R’ U R
Now that gives me this setup:
I have to do a y move to get the cube to look just like that, so:
y R’ U’ R U’ R’ U2 R
Now the top is oriented.
Permute (orange front, yellow top):
U’ y’ x R2 D2 R U R’ D2 R U’ R B x’
I did a U’ move to line up the oranges, did a y’ move to hold it to the right, then did the swap algorithm.
Now it’s time to just cycle the pieces. I hold the solved side to the back, so:
y’ F2 U’ L R’ F2 L’ R U’ F2
When I did the y’ move to put the solved side to the back, I noticed the 3 other pieces needed a counter-clockwise (ccw) rotation. So I did the ccw algorithm.
You should now have a solved cube.