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Minecraft Launcher

The Minecraft Launcher with selected version 1.16.4
The Minecraft: Dungeons tab in the launcher

The Minecraft Launcher (German starter) is the program that starts the Minecraft game process. The launcher handles the login, fetches all other files from the Internet that are required for the game and starts the actual game program, the Client (see client-server concept).

The launcher will continue to automatically install updates from Minecraft. It also allows you to play many old versions of Minecraft all the way back to the pre-classic phase.

Installation [edit]

The first step to playing Minecraft is getting one on Mojang account (Account) on minecraft.net. You can do this for free - then you play in demo mode - or you buy Minecraft in the full version.

After you have created your account, you can download the launcher (you can also download it beforehand, but you cannot log in without an account). There are various options for installing the launcher, which mainly depend on the operating system in question.

Windows [edit]

The Minecraft setup on Windows

The standard installation runs by downloading the file MinecraftInstaller.msi from the download page, which can be found on minecraft.net under the "Download" tab (top left).

An MSI file is a Windows installation file (msi = Microsoft Installer), which will install Minecraft as intended by the Microsoft Windows operating system. The following entries are created automatically for this purpose:

  • Entry of the program Minecraft in the Windows settings under "System - Apps".
  • Generation of the desktop symbol Minecraft.
  • Generation of the start menu entry Minecraft.

To carry out the installation, the MSI file is copied to any folder and started. Then it triggers a formalized setup routine that asks first which folder Minecraft should be installed in, being the default installation folder C: \ Programs is preset and can be changed.

After the installation is the folder C: \ Program Files \ Minecraft originated from the program MinecraftLauncher.exe contains. If you leave the checkmark at the end of the setup, this launcher will be started for the first time after the installation. He is now downloading two large files from the Internet with the messages:

  • "Downloading native launcher" (native = specially tailored to the game, local). The native launcher brings its own Java runtime environment and is therefore independent of a Java installation on the computer.
  • "Downloading runtime". This is the Java library.
  • "Setting up runtime".
  • "Unpacking launcher".

The folder C: \ Program Files \ Minecraft now has the following content:

  • C: \ Program Files \ Minecraft
    • game: In this folder there are various libraries for the launcher. The real launcher is the library launcher.dll. It is a Java archive and can be viewed with the 7-zip program, for example.
      • locales: This folder contains the language files of the various Crowdin translations for the launcher. The file type .pak denotes a resource package. The content can only be read correctly by the launcher. With a text editor, however, you can recognize the texts. The German texts are in the file de.pak.
    • runtime: This folder contains all programs for the Java runtime environment.
      • jre-x32 or jre-x64: The appropriate Java runtime environment (jre =java runtime environment) for 32 bit or 64 bit computers.
    • tmp: This folder is usually empty, it is only used to unzip downloaded files.
    • tools: This folder contains utilities for the launcher.
      • NativeUpdater.exe: When starting, the launcher loads the current launcher configuration from http://launchermeta.mojang.com/mc/launcher.json and compare it with that of the installed launcher. If the installed launcher is out of date, the program will NativeUpdater.exe started, which downloads and installs the current launcher.
    • MinecraftLauncher.exe: The launcher that does some checks and then launcher.dll starts with the Java runtime environment.
    • nativelog.txt: All steps of the startup process are logged here.

The decisive advantage of this type of Minecraft installation is the integration of the Java runtime environment. The player no longer has to worry about a Java installation and no longer has to keep it up to date. This eliminates many problems that a large part of the players previously had because they had an outdated version of Java installed on their computer. Minecraft now ignores the Java version installed on the computer and uses its own. Another advantage is that you can be sure that Java is used without malware and without advertising.

The launcher only uses the Java runtime environment as a library and does not install it on Windows. It can therefore not be uninstalled or changed, even if there is now a more up-to-date Java version than this one. After all, after starting the launcher you can set which Java version the actual game should use, but the launcher itself always uses its own Java version.

If you don't want to use the standard installation, or if it doesn't work, there are two other download alternatives available.

  • Minecraft.exe: Native launcher (with its own Java) without Windows installation, but otherwise identical to the standard. In this case, the launcher folders and files will not be under C: \ Program Files \ Minecraft created, but in the folder in which Minecraft.exe is started.
  • Minecraft.exe: Old launcher in version 1.6.76-j upwards. This variant also requires a Java runtime environment with which it is started. To carry out the installation, the exe file is copied to any folder and started. It then downloads the necessary files and programs from the Internet, creates the .minecraft folder and saves the file launcher.jar There.

macOS [edit]

The Minecraft setup on macOS

The image file can also be downloaded under macOS from the download page, which can be found on minecraft.net under the "Download" tab (top left). The site automatically recognizes that you are using macOS, which is why the correct download is offered directly. The image file is named "Minecraft.dmg".

If you open the file, a window appears in which you can only find the one on the left Minecraft.app-File in the right folder named Applications must pull. The Minecraft file will then be moved to this folder, which can be found under / Applications. This is the standard folder for all applications under macOS, these are then also displayed in the Launchpad.

In contrast to Windows, no separate folder structure is created for the launcher during installation. All required libraries including the Java runtime environment are located directly in Minecraft.app, which is why the file has a considerable size of more than 300MB.

If you are using an old version of OS X, the modern launcher may not work. There is an image file of the old launcher called download alternatives on the Minecraft website for this Minecraft_legacy.dmg. Installation is done just like with the modern launcher by moving Minecraft.app to Applications. However, this old launcher does not have an integrated Java runtime environment. It is also based on Java 6, which is not provided by the manufacturer Oracle itself, but directly by Apple. For Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) to OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) Java 6 can be downloaded here. Older versions of Mac OS X have Java preinstalled.

Linux [edit]

There are several options available:

  • Distribution specific options, such as packages and the Arch User Repository.
  • The possibility to install the launcher via Flathub.

Others [edit]

The launcher is available as a generally usable Java file for other operating systems. This can be found on the Minecraft website under the download alternatives as Minecraft.tar.gz being found. This launcher also needs a Java runtime environment with which it is started. For Chrome OS it is also possible to install Minecraft via Flathub.

Foreign launcher [edit]

There are also ways to get a launcher not from Mojang, but from another source (e.g. from one of the numerous download platforms or from a programmer who has written an alternative launcher with supposedly or actually better functionality). However, this has significant disadvantages: If you do not download the launcher directly from the manufacturer, you cannot be sure which program you are actually installing on your computer. The foreign launcher could contain advertisements or even malware. For the old launcher version there are also third-party launchers that look like the original, but steal the account data unnoticed when you log in (email address and password). The new launcher version makes this attempt at scam much more difficult.

Start [edit]

The native launcher is started under Windows via the automatically generated desktop icon or via the start menu, whereby the program MinecraftLauncher.exe is called. On macOS, Minecraft.app can be started in the launchpad or via the Spotlight search. The launcher file does the following, which can be found in the log file nativelog.txt can read:

Download the Java runtime environment
  • Detection of the exact version of the respective operating system
  • Download the metadata launcher.json with the download links of all necessary files in their latest version
  • Check of the previous Minecraft installation Java runtime environment (a Java installed outside of Minecraft on the computer is ignored). If in the launcher.json If a newer Java version is available, it will be downloaded, unpacked and integrated into the Minecraft installation.
  • Check the previous launcher version. If in the launcher.json a newer version is available, it will be downloaded and unzipped in the Minecraft installation. The file updateLog.txt logs this process.
  • All files are compressed with the Lempel-Ziv-Markow algorithm (LZMA), which makes them small and the download time correspondingly short. After downloading and unzipping, the packed and temporary files are deleted again.
  • Start from launcher.dll via the integrated Java runtime environment. (Windows only)

When the game is started for the very first time, the launcher downloads all the files required for the current Minecraft version and saves them in the file that was created when the launcher was started for the first time .Minecraft-Folder. Also in the folder .Minecraft the two files launcher_log.txt and launcher_profiles.json generated.

With the alternative Installation without Windows setup (see above) the launcher is via the program Minecraft.exe started. Then the same steps as above are followed.

In the old installation variant (see above) the launcher will run over the old version of the program Minecraft.exe started. This version does not integrate a Java runtime environment. No log file is generated either, the log can be seen for a short time in a separate window instead. The following steps are carried out:

  • The start of Minecraft.exe is called "Bootstrap". The start of a program via a starter (here: launcher.jar), which is first automatically brought up to date.
  • Direct check of the previous launcher version without metadata launcher.json.
  • If a new launcher version exists, it will be downloaded to the .minecraft folder and saved there as a launcher.jar unzipped. The packed file launcher.lzma will not be deleted. If there is no internet connection (offline mode) or if it is too bad, the last downloaded LZMA file will be used.
  • Start from launcher.jar via the Java runtime environment installed on the computer.

Features [edit]

  • Warning when starting a game multiple times

  • The menu item Settings

  • The output protocol in a separate window

  • The demo mode in the launcher

Login [edit]

The login window of the Minecraft Launchers

An internet connection is required when starting the launcher for the first time. Not only for the automatic download of the Minecraft client and the standard resources required for playing, but also for logging in.

The ID and the password entered. The identification nowadays is the e-mail address (Mojang account), but before November 2012 it was the username (Minecraft account). If you are not sure what to enter as identification, click on the link What should i use? and will be directed to a Mojang help page that explains it. There is also a link that allows you to switch from the old to the new account (migration).

The link Forgot Password? can be clicked to reset the password and reassign it if you have forgotten it. A Mojang help page opens with the corresponding links to the old or new account. The reset then takes place after Mojang has verified the identity.

With the switch Remain signed in? the launcher saves the login (but not the password) to the file .minecraft / launcher_profiles.json under "authenticationDatabase". When you restart the launcher on this computer, you do not have to log in again. If you use a computer to which other people also have access, it is not advisable, because people can then start Minecraft without logging in, delete a world or join a server from the server list and ensure that the account there is banned in a short time . The later declaration "that was not me, that was my brother" is not accepted by the server operators, everyone is responsible for the security of their login.

Via the link Create a new account? you can create a Mojang account directly in the launcher and then - without paying anything - play Minecraft in the official demo mode. However, the email address must be confirmed; Mojang will send an automatic email to this address.

When logging in, the data is passed through the authentication system Yggdrasil Checked by Mojang. That is only possible if the Authentication service from Mojang is online. You can read the status of this service here. (Yggdrasil is by the way the name of the world tree of Norse mythology, which embodies the entire cosmos.)

Play [edit]

After the first login - or otherwise directly when starting the launcher - the launcher user interface opens, which provides the following functions:

  • Above left can the language change. Like the Java version of the game, the launcher is translated by the crowd community.
  • The currently set player name is displayed at the top right. over Switch Accounts further accounts can be added to the selection. If there are several accounts to choose from, you can switch quickly here.
It is also possible to start the game multiple times and play it with multiple accounts at the same time. The launcher issues a warning if you start the game multiple times with the same account or if you access the same world (game folder) multiple times.
By Sign out the current account is removed from the selection. By logging in again (with an Internet connection) it will be added to the selection again.
  • At the top right is that Help-Site that offers various links to English language websites and contains two search fields to search on the Mojang website or the English language Minecraft Wiki. At the bottom, the status of the game servers is displayed, which can also be seen individually on this website.
  • One click on the Minecraft-Script leads to the website minecraft.net.
  • One click on that X closes the main menu, another click opens it again.
  • In the lower middle, the large, green button shows the currently set Minecraft version. With one click on Play (or Play offline if there is no internet connection) the Minecraft client is started, this is the main task of the launcher.
The small arrow to the right shows all the profiles that have been created. Another profile can be selected here and clicked on Play to be started.
If you have an unpaid account, it says here Play demowhat starts the demo mode.
When the client is started, the button is briefly replaced by a progress indicator so that you can understand what the reason is if it takes a little longer for the client to start.
  • The version number of the launcher is displayed at the bottom left.One click leads to a detailed list of the libraries it contains.
  • At the bottom right, a click on the Mojang logo also leads to the minecraft.net website.
  • The main menu has four menu items:
    • news: Images of current Minecraft information, each with a link to the corresponding post on minecraft.net.
    • Skins: A new skin can be tried out here and changed with a click. He will then after Mojang.com uploaded. For details see skin. If the mouse is held on the small symbol under the skin, the display rotates. Under Sample skins you can access the folders in which you have saved different skins on your computer.
    • Settings: Here you can specify whether the launcher should remain open while the game is running, whether you want the output log in a separate window, how the profiles should be sorted and whether the crash report that is generated in the event of a game crash should be automatically prompted to be sent to Mojang.
    • Profiles: Here you configure the Minecraft client. If the launcher is used by several players, each player can make their preferred settings here. The sorting of the profiles is in the main menu item Settings selectable. A new profile can be created manually or an existing profile can be used as a template for a new profile using the "Copy" button. You can add a Minecraft block to each profile as a Icon assign. The Surname is freely selectable. The version is selected from a list, the appropriate server can also be downloaded here. In the profile list you can set whether you also want to select development versions and historical versions (beta, alpha, classic, pre-classic). You can have a different one for each profile Game folder (default is .minecraft) and open this folder directly with the green arrow. The resolution indicates the size of the client window and thus also of the screenshots. If you want to open the window in full screen mode, you don't enter it here, but in the client in the menu / options / graphics settings.
If desired, you can get one Java program file specify. The Native Launcher comes with its own Java version, here you can change it to a Java you have installed yourself. The JVM arguments can be used to allocate more main memory to the game (JVM = Java Virtual Machine, see also minecraft.jar # Java technology). The Configuration of the output protocol can be done via an adapted XML file, details are not known.
To the Delete a profile there is a link in the top right (Delete [X]).

Kiosk mode [edit]

The term "kiosk mode" refers to a special user mode with restricted rights. If a program is started in kiosk mode, the computer can be set up in public (e.g. at a trade fair or in a kiosk) and every user can play with it because he cannot perform certain actions.

The kiosk mode for the launcher removes the login menu item in the top right of the launcher. This means that the user previously set in the launcher cannot be seen and cannot be changed.

The setting is not made via the launcher interface, but as an entry in the file launcher_profiles.json. There you have to add the setting.

Change list [edit]

The changelist in the launcher

The change list in the Minecraft launcher, which can be found in the launcher in the "Change list" tab, shows the changelogs for Minecraft updates since full version 1.13, but the list of versions is incomplete, e.g. there are no snapshots up to 20w06a and up to full version 1.15 .1 no pre-releases.

If you activate the checkbox "Development versions", you can also see the changelogs of development versions. If you click on a full version or a development version, the respective changelogs open in the launcher. The changelogs are in English, no matter which language you have selected. If you click on "More change lists", a link to this website opens.

Functions of the old launcher [edit]

The old Minecraft Launcher

The old launcher has similar functions to the new one, but is less convenient. There are no moving images, no language settings, no help page and no skin change. The news of the old launcher had no pictures and is collected up to full version 1.11.2 at http://mcupdate.tumblr.com/. There you can use the Older-Link then scroll back to Beta1.3 than the first Minecraft News were published in the then new launcher (see launcher / version history).

Gallery [edit]

  • The login window of the old launcher

  • The lower area where you start the game

  • The window for changing the player

  • The warning when starting the game multiple times

  • The tab Launcher log after starting the launcher

  • The tab Game output after starting a game

  • The message that will be displayed if you have previously used the new launcher.


  • During the beta phase of the new launcher, there was initially no language selection. Instead, instead of this voice menu, there was a non-functional gray creeper icon in the top left, or the occasional meme. Both only became white with a click and therefore clearly visible. The creeper symbol and the meme were moved a bit down when the first version with language selection was released and are still there now. They only become clearly visible when they are clicked.
  • If you hold the mouse pointer long enough on the "Play" field, a comic-style creature or player character will appear in the right corner. Which one it is is left to chance each time the launcher is started.
  • Early beta version of the current launcher with a creeper face at the top left

  • An example of the "Play" button effect: A creeper

History [edit]