This is the second lesson in a series introducing 10-year-olds to programming through Minecraft. Learn more here.

When you double-click on the Minecraft icon and the game starts, what's really happening? Quite a bit, actually, and the first thing we need to understand is what a file is.

File: A collection of data that exists in permanent storage. All the information we access on our computer (e.g. music, pictures, games) is stored is a file somewhere. Each file has its own name; Minecraft's "name" is minecraft.jar.

The part after the dot (.) is called an extension and usually tells people what kind of data is stored in the file. A Minecraft skin would have an extension of "png", which denotes an image.

All files live on a drive.

Drive: A way to describe a single storage device (e.g. hard drive, USB stick, etc.) On Windows:

  • you almost always have a drive called "C" where the OS (Operating System) lives. Minecraft is probably installed on the "C" drive as well.
  • drive names are alphabet letters from "C" to "Z". If you plug a USB stick into your computer, it will be assigned one of those unused letters.

To organize the many files we use, drives also have directories.

Directory (or Folder): A set of files grouped together. A directory can also contain other directories.

For Minecraft, I have a directory called C:\Users\Jedidja\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft

The game itself is a file with a name of C:\Users\Jedidja\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\bin\minecraft.jar

To be able to mod Minecraft, we need to create our own files and change some existing ones.

How do we browse files and folders?

We use an application called File Explorer (or Windows Explorer previous to Windows 8). The simplest way to see the Minecraft folder is

  1. Hold down the Windows key and press 'r' (this allows us to run applications)
  2. Type in %appdata% and hit ENTER
  3. When the File Explorer window appears, double-click on .minecraft (probably very near the top of the list)

We'll be dealing a lot with files and folders and there are a few other important folders (like Downloads) that we'll access through File Explorer.

Further Reading