Recently I have taught a couple of people how to solve a Rubik’s cube using a beginner method. I know there are many of these guides on the Internet (I will link to some later), but I wanted a place where I could look and find the same method each time. Putting it on my site will help me remember where I wrote this.
There are certainly more comprehensive guides. This is not intended to replace them. I don’t intend to explain a lot of what is happening with the cube and I assume a basic understanding of how the cube works for my guide. And that you can solve one side on your own.
Again, this is written down here so that I can consistently go to the same method and talk people through how to use it. (Since I don’t use a beginner method myself, I don’t easily remember these steps).
A good comprehensive guide to fill in any gaps (except where we differ on our steps) is at SolveTheCube.com.
Hold the cube so that one face is pointed to you. You can easily understand that there are six sides with a face (F), left (L), right (R), top (called up) (U), bottom (called down) (D) and back (B). Each face will be turned 1/4 turn either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
For the beginner method you will only use the above mentioned letters to denote turns. The letter by itself indicates a 1/4 turn clockwise. That is clockwise when looking at that particular face directly. If the letter has a tick mark after it (‘), then you turn the side counter-clockwise.
A number after the letter indicates how many 1/4 turns you do. This is only ever the number 2. Because it is a half turn, it does not matter whether you turn the cube clockwise or counter-clockwise. Whichever works best in the situation.
Solve the First Layer Cross
Decide on a color to start with. I only recommend you start by solving the white side because most guides on the Internet assume you are starting with white. Other than for that reason, you can start with any side you want.
We are separating solving the first layer cross and corners though you could actually solve them together. The cross includes the center piece and all four edge pieces.
There is not much to say about solving the cross. If you can solve one side completely, then you can do the cross easily.
- It is easier to solve the cross and then the corners as opposed to the corners and then the cross even though you could technically do these together.
- The cross is not solved until you have each edge of the cross correctly lined up with the center piece.
Solve the First Layer Corners
Again, if you can solve one side, you can solve the first layer corners. This is an intuitive step and should be figured out. If you can’t solve one layer on your own, then this guide is not the right one for you.
Each edge and corner of the first layer must line up, color wise, with the other pieces and center pieces on each side
Insert the Second Layer Edges
Turn the cube over so that the solved side is on the bottom. Line up a center piece on what is now the top layer with a side making an upside-down T (as in the illustration). There are three possible edges that could could make the upside-down T. You want one that does not have the top layer color in it. For example, if your top layer is yellow and you are trying to make a blue T, you need a blue edge piece that does not have a yellow side. So a blue-red or blue-orange piece is what you need (on a cube with a standard color scheme).
Inserting Edge to the Left
U’ L’ U L U F U’ F’
Inserting Edge to the Right
U R U’ R’ U’ F’ U F
Create the Last Layer Cross
You now need to get a cross on the top layer. You may also end up with other top-layer colors in place. If starting the solve from the white face, this will mean you need to look for the yellow pieces on the top layer.
In this step it does not matter what corners are oriented properly. We are only concerned with the edges.
If you have the middle and two edges facing up, and those two edges are side by side (not opposite of one another) you have a corner case. Hold the cube so that the two properly oriented edges are on the left and back edges like in the illustration. In this picture you are looking at the top of the cube. You still need to solve it with the face and right sides being the unsolved edges.
If you have the middle and two edges facing up, and those two edges are opposite one another (not side by side) you have a line case. Hold the cube so the line goes left to right like in the illustration. In this picture you are looking at the top of the cube. You still need to solve it with the front and back sides being the unsolved edges.
Perform both the corner case algorithm and line case algorithms one after another. It does not matter which one you do first. Just make sure you orient the cube properly between the algorithms.
Simpler (but possibly longer)
Orient the cube like in one of the cases above and do either algorithm until the cross is in the right place. You might have to do it as many as 3 times. But this requires that you only learn one algorithm.
Solve (Orient) the Last Layer Cross
The cross might be solved at this point. Meaning that you can turn the top layer (also known as the last layer) and all the edges will line up with the side colors all at the same time. More than likely though, you will only have 2 edges that line up on the proper color.
To swap the front and left side edges do the following algorithm. This means that your good edges will go in the back and right sides of the top layer. It is possible that your two good edges are opposite one another. In this case, just do the algorithm twice. The first time to get two solved edges adjacent to one another and the second time to finish orienting the top cross.
This algorithm has a name–Sune.
Last Layer Corners to Correct Slots
In this step we need the last layer corners to be in their correct places even if they are not twisted the right way. With the first two layers and the top cross solved and correctly oriented, you need to look at each corner and see if they are in the right spot. Meaning, the yellow/blue/orange corner piece is in the corner between the yellow/blue/orange sides.
You should have at least one corner that is in the right place. Turn the whole cube–not just the top layer–so that the correct corner piece is in the front-top-right corner position.
This algorithm may need to be done twice from the same orientation. Check to see if all corners are in the right spots after the first time. If not, then do it a second time.
U R U’ L’ U R’ U’ L
Solve the Last Layer Corners
Only one super-simple step away from solving the cube! While it is super-simple, it may also be the most confusing. There are a couple of parts in this step that seem to trip people up until they understand it.
- You have the bottom two layers solved. These are also known as the first two layers because you solved them first.
- You have the top cross edges oriented correctly and lined up with the correct side colors.
- You have the top layer corner pieces all in their right slots even if they are not twisted correctly.
If any of the three statements above is not true, then you are not ready to move on to this step.
Place an unsolved corner in the front-top-right position. Perform the following algorithm two or four times to twist that corner into proper orientation.
R’ D’ R D
After 2 or 4 cycles through that simple four-step move, you will have the corner solved. However, it may look like you have messed up the cube. Don’t panic!
Do not turn the cube, but turn the top layer until the next corner that needs to be solved is in the front-top-right corner and do R’ D’ R D again either 2 or 4 times. Keep turning the top layer (not the cube) and performing the algorithm until the whole cube is solved.
If it doesn’t work one of the following is probably the reason:
- You turned the cube when you should have only turned the top layer.
- You did not do the final D move in one of the many R’ D’ R D combinations.
- You are turning the D layer the wrong direction. This is your first experience with the D layer. Make sure you are turning it clockwise and counter-clockwise appropriately based on looking at the bottom layer directly.
If not, read through the description carefully and try to figure out what went wrong. It could also be that my description does not make sense to you. There are plenty of other beginner’s guides. Try one of them to see if another works better for you.
Not every beginner’s method is the same. There are many different methods that could be considered a beginner’s one. Beginner’s guides are usually defined by having more steps but with fewer or simpler algorithms. In each step the algorithm should work even if you have to apply it several times. This is in contrast to advanced solving methods where an algorithm will solve the case each time but there may be as many as 57 algorithms to choose from in each step.
Solve the Cube’s guide is very similar to my guide, but with much better pictures and explanation.
Mats Valk’s video guide playlist. As of this writing, Valk holds the world record for the fastest human solve–4.74 seconds. However, the videos are a beginner’s method using one main move to explain the method. Very clever and might become my go-to way to teach new cubers.
Yet another guide from Ruwix. They link to more at the bottom of their page.