Bec's Mailbag

I get a lot of mail here at MineMum. The most common questions end up in the FAQ, but from time to time I share some of the longer, fiddly or more unique ones here for readers who are tackling the same kinds of issues. So behold, I give you... the Mailbag!

If you have a Minecraft question or issue you’d like help with, head on over to the contact form or holler at me on Twitter @becoakley.

Just-in-case disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Mojang in any way and none of these responses constitute any kind of professional advice. I'm just a parent who likes Minecraft.

Finding the jar file

Angelica wrote:

I have looked everywhere and cannot find the minecraft.jar file that everyone keeps referring to. The only thing my child wants for Christmas is to get a mod and I can't seem to figure it out. Please help!! I'm running Windows 8 with Minecraft 1.8.

Answer:

Hi there! I totally understand how frustrating it can be to understand the ins and outs of mods.

Check that you can see hidden files. It's a setting in the control panel, in Windows 8 you find it under Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options ... then click Show hidden files and folders. This site has also got an article that explains it with screenshots.

In the latest versions the jar file is in the versions folder... so for example if you're running 1.8 then you'd find the jar in /versions/1.8

If that doesn't help, let me know and I'll see if I can figure it out for you!

~Bec

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Uninstalling mods

Elise wrote:

Hi! My son wanted to install a new mod, but already has another mod installed.  is there a way to either uninstall the first mod, or make it inactive so he can play with the new mod?  They both appear to be compatible, but he only wants to play with the new mod.   

Thanks!  This whole Minecraft thing is a huge mystery to me!

Answer:

Hi Elise

You don't need to uninstall a mod in the traditional sense, you just need to move or delete the files from the mods folder so that Minecraft can't see them. What we do is create a separate folder for mods that we're not currently using, and just move the mod files into that (so we can choose to use them again later if we want instead of having to go and find/download them again).

I hope that made sense, if not just write back and I'll explain more :)

~Bec

Elise wrote:

Hi,  THANK YOU! That made perfect sense, and worked great!  Thank you so much for your response!  We looked all over the internet for an answer to this, and couldn't find it, so you don't know how much I appreciate your help :)

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Finding people to play Realms with

Sheri wrote:

Yours is absolutely the best Minecraft information site for parents.  You've answered most of my questions.  But here's one I still have:

My son is seven.  He wants to play multiplayer, but I don't want him to have unfettered access to public servers.  There are so many public servers;  I don't know how to find one that I'm sure is age-appropriate. I've considered subscribing to Minecraft Realms and being a host, but my son doesn't know enough people his own age who are willing to be invited. what ideas do you have to solve this problem?

Answer:

Hi Sheri

Thanks for your kind words! Yep, finding a safe multiplayer server for younger kids is very tricky. The only way to make sure that it's safe is to try it out yourself and play alongside them, but most parents don't have the time (or enthusiasm) to do that. Realms is a very good alternative, but as you say you need to have players in mind first in order to connect.

My suggestions would be:

  • Look for a family-friendly server. There's a good list here, I haven't tried out any of these but have chatted to a few of the admins and they seem nice and helpful.
  • Look at servers and communities set up for homeschoolers. These are run by parents and are usually very family-friendly.
  • See if there are any Minecraft groups in your school or area where your son could meet some other players to connect with in Realms.
  • Go along to some Minecraft day camps or game sessions that often run during the holidays. You'll find other kids to connect with and possibly some recommendations for family-friendly servers.

I hope that helps, good luck!
~Bec

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Recording Minecraft videos

Hannah wrote:

Hi MineMum,

Thank you, so much for this site and all the info!!!  And my kids are thankful I can help them with their game. My question: now my kids want to record as they play, so that they can make their own Minecraft videos, to post to youtube.  I am a Mac person, and am familiar with QuickTime and iMovie, but these don't work on their Windows OS PC's. Do you have any pointers on which software is good?  I have searched, and I get lost - much like when I was trying to figure out mods on my own.

Answer:

Hi Hannah

We use both Macs and PCs to play Minecraft in our house. My kids love recording too, on the PC they use a program called Fraps and that seems to work reasonably well.

Just a heads up that running recording software while you're playing can really make the game lag a lot. If that happens, try fiddling with the settings in Minecraft like render distance. The tips in the article How To Make The Game Run Faster might help with that.

~Bec

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Making your own mods

Jason wrote:

Hi my son (10) would like to make his own mods - is that even possible? Thanks for such a great site.

Answer:

Hi Jason!

It is possible but would require him to learn a bit of programming in Java. There are holiday camps and sites popping up around the place that run courses specifically designed to teach kids enough Java to make mods, so if he's at all interested in that he could definitely make his own mods. He might like to start out making his own resource packs, which are a lot easier to do because they just require editing image or sound files.

Hope that helped!

~Bec

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Laptops vs desktops

Margaret wrote:

My boys (ages 8 and 9) have been playing minecraft with each other on my Ipad and iphone. They want minecraft PC edition for Christmas. We currently do not have a computer other than my Ipad. I have done research on the internet about the best computer to buy. I am not the computer type and I am overloaded with "computer talk" that I really do not understand. I would like to get two laptop computers so they can play together.I have read desk tops are better for this game but do not have the room.  Do you have a recommendation for a computer? Thanks.

Answer:

Hi Margaret

I can understand how overloading all that computer talk can be, it's really hard to know where to start isn't it.

We play on both laptops and desktops in our house, and I haven't run into many problems with either. My son's laptop which is an older Macbook does tend to have the most performance issues, which means the game runs a bit slower or is a bit jumpy. The good thing about Minecraft is that there are a lot of settings you can play around with to compensate for computers with lower memory, so he just changed some of those settings and it runs fine. There's a MineMum article called Making The Game Run Faster to help with that, which you might want to read after you've bought one.

Here's a handy Minecraft Support page with some recommended requirements which you can use to compare against the computers that you're thinking of buying. These are more than the minimum requirements but will mean that you're much less likely to run into any problems when you play the game.

I hope that helps a little!
~Bec

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Seed safety

Jake’s mom wrote:

Do seeds that I get online have viruses?  My son is begging me to get him "seeds" even though I'm not entirely sure what they are.  But I don't want to get a "bad" seed and corrupt his game.

Answer:

Hi Jake's mom

A seed is just the unique identifier that each new world has in Minecraft. When you create a new world, you can start from scratch to make a random new one or you can enter one of these identifiers and it will make that particular world. So when players find something cool in a world they're playing on they'll share the seed so that other players can recreate that exact same world on their own computer or XBox.

It's just a number that gets typed in when a new game is started, they're not something that you download so there's no chance of the game being corrupted. There are a lot of places around the web where people share interesting seeds they've found, you'll find plenty if you google 'Minecraft XBox 360 seeds'.

Hope that made sense to you!
~Bec

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Finding safe mods

Jennifer wrote:

Hi! First, I want to thank you for all this information.  When my kids first started playing a couple of months ago, I felt a bit lost.  I have used your site extensively to learn about the game and to navigate the world of mods. So thank you for the time and effort you put into creating your site!

Second, my son would like a mod to explore space.  Could you recommend one that is safe?  Or maybe just provide some suggestions for safe places to search for one? Thanks!

Answer:

Hi Jennifer

Thank you, I'm really glad you've found the site helpful! I don't personally use any mods that explore space, but that would be awesome and now I want to go find one. I know that Galacticraft is very popular, where you can make your own spaceship.

The site called MCF Modlist has a very extensive listing of mods that are available, sorted by Minecraft version. Many of the links go to the Minecraft Forum, which is usually a pretty safe place to find downloads. That's because if there was a virus or other issue you'd hear about it pretty quickly from other users.

Note that many of the links pass through an intermediate ad site called AdFly, sometimes those can be tailored to tempt you into clicking on things that look like download links. So just remember to click the 'Skip AdFly' link up in the top right hand corner, and double check that you're clicking on the actual download link before you click anywhere. And of course have good virus protection on your computer because at the end of the day, mods are just user-created content and can very easily end up with viruses or malware in them.

Good luck!
~ Bec

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Removing server access

Leah wrote:

Hey. How do I take away access to the hunger games server? My 6 year old doesn’t know.

Answer:

Hi Leah

If he's on a Mac or PC - click on the Multiplayer menu option, select the Hunger Games server and then click Delete, and click Delete again to confirm that you want to remove that server.

~Bec
 

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Extra download files appearing

Lisa wrote:

Hi - thanks so much for this website.  It has helped my understanding so much.  One thing I don't get is the downloads.  There seems to be a download in my "downloads" folder every time my son plays.  Do we need these and is this the same as the Minecraft folder you refer to?

Answer:

Hi Lisa!

I think what's happened is that you haven't finished the install properly to create a shortcut link that you can run it from (so Minecraft doesn't know that you already have it installed). Try moving one of those Minecraft.exe files to your desktop and running Minecraft from there... I'm pretty sure that should do the trick, if it doesn't then let me know!

~Bec

Lisa wrote:

Moved one of those files to the desktop and told my son to launch from there - just checked and there is nothing new in my download folder today! Thanks so much!

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