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You normally need your Minecraft world to be saved on your computer (with this exception), running classic Minecraft on Windows, Mac, or Linux (or converting from the Pocket Edition). You interactively select a model from your world map, which creates a 3D print or rendering file. See the step-by-step guide below or the first minute of this YouTube video for the basic process. Preview the output model with a 3D file viewer; I recommend G3D for OBJ files, MeshLab for STL or VRML files.

At this point you can upload your model for free to share, or make pictures of it with a rendering package, or have it 3D printed. For this last option, use your own 3D printer or upload the zip file Mineways produces to a 3D printing service. Prices of 3D prints range from $5 to $500, depending on size - my mantra is "smaller is cheaper, cuter, and cooler", such as this castle or house. See the gallery for some 3D printed models others have made.

How to set up and run Mineways:

1) Unzip mineways.zip, the whole thing, to some directory. On Windows you can actually run mineways.exe from the zip file.

2) Double-click the Mineways.exe program to run (try the Mineways32.exe if that fails). If things don't start up correctly, see this guide.

3) Use "File | Open World" to select a world. Use "File | Open..." to open a schematic file.

4) Use the left mouse button to drag the map around, use the mouse wheel to zoom. "F3" takes you to the player's location.

5) Drag with the right mouse button to select an area on the map and to adjust this rectangle.

6) Optionally click with the middle mouse button or set the "Lower depth" slider to select a depth.

7) Export the model for rendering by "File | Export for Rendering". Export for 3D printing by "File | Export for 3D Printing" - just hit "OK" on the Options dialog. To upload directly to the web is a little more involved, see these directions.

8) Optional: if you want to see the result, view the .OBJ or .WRL with G3D, MeshLab, or other 3D model viewer (avoid Microsoft's 3D Builder if you use colors; it's fine for STLs).

Not clear? Read over the quick reference page or watch this quick introduction or this longer tutorial to see what's what. For using a home or school 3D printer, see this more in-depth guide at MinecraftEdu. You can find more tutorials on the video playlist.

Problems? Look below for platform-specific problems on Windows, Mac, and Linux, then see the Troubleshooting Guide that follows if those don't help.

3D Printing: To preview your exported model to see if it's what you want, open the .wrl/.obj/.stl file with MeshLab or other model viewer. If you want to 3D print your model and don't have a 3D printer (or want a multicolored model), create a free Shapeways account and upload the .zip file. Once the model is processed by Shapeways (a few minutes), you can order it - make sure to select "colored sandstone" for the material.

As an example, here's my non-profit store. Note that no part of this process will cost you anything, unless you actually order something. Sculpteo is another 3D print service worth considering (see my sample store). It's generally more expensive but often delivers more rapidly (even shipping from France!). There are other 3D print services such as 3D Hubs; see a list here.

Rendering: see this section for how to import your model into various rendering and animation systems.

What to try next: work through the documentation page to learn more about other export options. The information is pretty much in order of importance. In particular, for 3D printing, check out the "Export lesser blocks" option, which lets you get more detail. This feature is not on by default because it has some risks, so read about them there.

Platform-Specific Problems and Fixes

Windows

If Mineways doesn't run for you, make sure you've got the latest version, downloaded the whole .zip file (it should be about 19 megabytes), that you have unzipped the file to some directory, and that you're running mineways.exe. Read on for more things to try.

If you get "Windows protected your PC" when running Mineways, click on "More info" and then "Run anyway". I'm trustworthy.

If Mineways gives you an error on startup or gets stuck mid-export, try Mineways32. If that doesn't work any better, double-click (i.e., run) the file mineways_min_debug.bat (you might not see the ".bat" on your system). This will startup without loading the list of worlds, and create a file mineways_exec.log while running Mineways. After Mineways crashes or doesn't start or fails, etc., take a look at this file. Whatever is happening at the end of it may give you a hint. If not, send it on to me for analysis. You might also try mineways_debug_log.bat, which starts up normally (loads your list of worlds), unlike mineways_min_debug.bat, but still creates a debug log file.

If you get an error about MSVCR120.DLL being missing, install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable Package for your system. You may find you need to open that link in Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Edge browsers. Select vcredist_x64.exe for a 64-bit system, vcredist_x86.exe if your system is 32 bits. If you don't know whether your system is 32 or 64 bits, follow the instructions here, which boil down to "hold down the Windows key and then click the Pause|Break key, then look for System type". Mineways32.exe should run on any PC, but export size is somewhat limited (this usually doesn't matter for 3D printing); Mineways.exe is 64-bit and will run on only 64-bit systems. Sorry for this annoyance, but Microsoft does not make this easy, and it even has a name.

Is your first language not English? Mineways can have problems with accented characters. If it fails to run, try unpacking Mineways into a directory with a short name such as C:\temp and try running it from there.

The Windows 10 Edition Beta of Minecraft and newer Education Edition are essentially the Pocket Edition, which Mineways does not currently understand. You need to use the normal "classic" PC or Mac version of Minecraft to use Mineways. That said, if you're determined, you can convert worlds from PE to classic by using MCEdit.

If Mineways is blocked by Norton Antivirus, e.g., you get an error that Windows is not being able to "access the specified device, path or file": First, make sure you are downloading Mineways from this site, i.e., the links above. If the download is being autodeleted, here's how to turn Norton off temporarily. Otherwise, just run Mineways and ignore the warnings. No other antivirus software reports Mineways as having a virus, so I believe it's a flaw in Norton. I won't be insulted if you are cautious and don't follow my advice, but Mineways is open source, and I have a reputation as a good person. You could follow the advice of this article and scan the mineways.exe file by uploading it here. Last time I tested it came up entirely clean.

If a particular world is not loading, note that Mineways is less likely to work on modded worlds. Mineways assumes certain things about how blocks can connect, and if those rules are modified, all bets are off.

Feel free to write me if you still have problems. The more you describe what you've tried, what happened or didn't happen, and what type of computer you're on (Windows 10, Mac, etc.), the more chance I have of helping you.

Mac

If Mineways doesn't run for you, make sure you've downloaded the whole .zip file (it should be about 84 megabytes), that you have unzipped the file to some directory (this should happen automatically on download), and that you're running the Mineways application.

Download Mineways for Mac and double-click on this zip file. Mineways should unzip and run. If the download doesn't unzip, you may not have downloaded the whole thing - your zip download file should be about 86 megabytes.

You may have problems running Mineways on macOS Sierra, or you may not. If you do have problems, you might try installing WineBottler and then try to run Mineways again. The next thing to try is to download the Windows version of Mineways, right click on the Mineways32.exe, hover over "Open With", then click on Wine (thanks to heptake for this method).

Once installed, run Mineways - it'll take awhile to start the first time and you'll get a notice about Wine, so be patient. To load your world, use "File | Open World". If none of your worlds are listed, you'll get a warning and will need to use "File | Open..." and navigate to /users/<your name>/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves/<your world's name> and select the level.dat file there.

If Mineways gives you an error on startup on the Mac, version 5.x may not work for you (and please let me know why, if you figure it out): try version 4.16 if all else fails.

By default, Mineways now uses its own tile textures that are stored in the program itself. Other "terrainExt.png" can be used - a number of these come with the program. Use "File | Set Terrain File" and select the terrainExt.png in /users/<your name>/Downloads/MinewaysMac or wherever you put Mineways. You might need to search for these files, just use Spotlight and search on "terrainExt.png". The other terrainExt*.png files will be found in this directory.

When you save, go to the directory /Users/<your name>/Documents to save. The Mac version is only 32 bits, so cannot export very large areas that the PC version can. This normally doesn't matter for 3D printing, since you want to keep the models small. If you do find you're out of memory, try the "Give more export memory!" option under Help, which clears out the map cache before trying to export the area you've selected.

Otherwise the Mac version is the same as the PC version, and Mac users can similarly use MeshLab or GLC Player for viewing exported 3D models. See the main documentation page for (way) more help.

Troubleshooting for the Mac

If you get the warning "'Mineways' can't be opened because the identity of the developer cannot be confirmed." take steps similar to those explained here. The short version: right-click and select "Open," then verify that you want to run the program. Yes, I'm trustworthy.

If when opening a world it says that the file name cannot contain the characters "/ : < > or |", change your world's folder name so that it doesn't contain these characters. Mineways is a Windows program masquerading as a Mac program, and Windows does not allow any of these characters in file names.

If you get the message "Couldn't find your Minecraft world saves directory..." you'll need to guide Mineways to wherever your world files are saved on your computer. Follow these instructions. If you are using a Mac with a language that is not English, Mineways may still have problems with the path to your files. One solution is to copy your world files to a USB flash drive - this avoids the path problems. Another solution may be to temporarily change the language to English.

If you get "Error creating export file; no file output," try saving to a simple directory name. Mineways is a Windows application underneath it all, so elaborate directory paths with special characters can confuse it. Making a simple directory name and saving to it fixes this problem.

If you can't see the Application Support/minecraft folder, see this page for how to use the terminal utility to make it visible. Short version: search for "terminal" in spotlight, copy and paste this line into the terminal and hit Enter:

	defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Then type or paste this line:

	killall Finder

to restart the finder. You can find your saves folder by opening Finder -> Go -> Go To Folder -> type ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves. For future reference, it's best to make an alias for this folder and copy it to your desktop.

Selection is done with right-click; if you are using a trackpad or your mouse cannot right-click, hold down the Control key and left-click, or see this page for more options.

We use WineBottler to make mineways32.exe into a Mac app - it's pretty easy! Start it up and click on "Advanced", the rightmost icon at the top of the application. Here's a screenshot of the settings I use; I've renamed mineways32.exe to be Mineways.exe for this example. Click "Install", save to the "Documents" directory, and "Save As: Mineways". Wait a while, and then you can run (and redistribute) the Mineways.app produced. Note: do not save to the original Mineways directory where the mineways32.exe file is located, as this will cause a loop and the program will never finish. Note to self: download the original to the desktop. Output to Documents. Zip it up. Upload the zip, that's what gets distributed. Test by copying zip to Applications and double-clicking - should just run.

Feel free to write me if you still have problems. The more you describe what you've tried, what happened or didn't happen, and what type of computer you're on (Windows 10, Mac, etc.), the more chance I have of helping you.

Linux

For Linux, download the Windows version and then use WINE to emulate Windows while running the 32-bit mineways32.exe version. Note: this also works on the Mac; the Mac version is merely the Windows version plus the WINE executables wrapped around it. That said, some Ubuntu Linux users have had problems (that I haven't figured out yet - something about GetMessage...) with version 5.00 and on. My advice: try Version 4.17. Linux is not "supported" by Mineways; I don't have Linux on any machine, I've never tried Mineways on Linux, I've been told it sometimes works. Basically, you're on your own.

Troubleshooting

General Troubleshooting Guide

If something goes wrong, here's the checklist I go through with people:

  • Did you download the latest version? Mineways has undergone many bug fixes.
  • Did you read any warnings from the program carefully?
  • Reboot and try the program one more time, just to be sure. Sometimes starting fresh clears out some box inadvertently checked, or untangles some hidden program bug.
  • Run through the platform-specific problems for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Here are some common problems:

  • "I chose the map fine, but the screen is all gray" - first, try hitting F2 (jump to spawn) and F3 (jump to player) and see if that helps get you to the right spot on your map. Next, you have the latest version of Mineways, right? Version 1.x of Mineways reads only older Minecraft (pre-1.2.x) worlds, not Anvil worlds. Version 2.x of Mineways reads Anvil worlds and will warn if it finds a pre-Anvil (unconverted) world.
  • "I don't like your torches/flames/etc." - you can remove any block from export by using a color scheme, then put your own models in place. You can use color schemes for all sorts of tricks, e.g., export your model a few times, with different options for the blocks you want to export.
  • "I uploaded to Shapeways, but they say my model could not be processed" - read their email carefully. Sometimes, however, they'll have no additional hints. First, you uploaded the .ZIP file, right? It should have a .wrl and .png file inside of it. Second thing to try: upload the .ZIP file again - I've sometimes had a model rejected which I then upload again and it's fine. Third thing: try exporting with the option "Weld all shared edges" checked. This may affect how your model looks, so preview it, but it does give a more robust (and stronger) model that Shapeways likes. Do not normally bother with trying STL instead of VRML; STL will not print at Shapeways with color.
  • "I uploaded to Shapeways, but on the model page it says the model is tiny" - on the Shapeways upload page where it says "Unit of Measure" and "Choose", the default is millimeters (though Shapeways has changed this in the past). Make sure the "Model's units" on the export dialog says "Millimeters".
  • "I selected a color scheme and the program locked up and died!" - my advice is to delete all your color schemes and remake them. Sorry about that! I thought I had licked this bug, but it might still be there under some circumstances.
  • "It (still) doesn't work" - write me if you still have problems. The more you describe what you've tried, what happened or didn't happen, and what type of computer you're on (Windows 10, Mac, etc.), the more chance I have of helping you.

Known Bugs

  • Superhollow can sometimes create little separate objects at the bottom layer unconnected to the rest of the model, caused by internal tunnels. "Delete floating objects" currently does not remove these. The workaround is to use "fill in isolated tunnels", or to just let these separate little chunks print and pay a bit more for them. The real fix to add to the code is to search the whole model again for groups and delete the small groups.

How I Make a 3D Print Export

I'm assuming you have basic knowledge from the quick-start guide or guide at MinecraftEdu and can find options on the output dialog. If you need more information on a process, just follow the links or search this page for the term.

For me it starts with determining whether the model is printable at all: if it has elements that are floating in the air, then I either don't print it, or will add blocks to hold these elements up in the air when printed. If there are very thin columns holding up larger elements, I have to guess whether these thin columns will be able to support the weight or will break. Even trees will often break off, because their trunks are too thin to stand up to the cleaning process.

If printable, I then decide what part of a model to print. If there's interesting construction below ground level, how deep do I want to go? Should the model get printed as two or more pieces, so I can see the rooms inside? If the model is symmetrical, should I print just half or a quarter of the model and show the interior that way?

Once I've figured out what to capture, there are then a few steps I walk through:

  • First I do a rough selection of the volume of the model. I select an area, export, and view by double-clicking on the WRL file produced. I then adjust the bounds by grabbing the border of the selection in Mineways with the right-mouse and dragging, and use the "[" and "]" keys to adjust the bottom's height, then use Control-X to instantly re-export. I export again, then in MeshLab hit R to reload the model. Lather, rinse, repeat until I like the result I'm seeing in preview.
  • I'll check the price and see if it's affordable. If so, great. If it's too high, then I try out the ideas in this section. My mantra in all this is "smaller is cuter is cheaper". Complexity is free when doing 3D printing, cost is based entirely on the number and size of the blocks, not their positions. The downside of smaller block sizes is that you can't see the textures on them as well. The upside is that you get fine details that are more impressive; larger blocks look easier to make.
  • If I get the warning that there are floating pieces, I check them out in the preview (there's a special debug mode if they're not obvious) and usually just remove them by cranking up the "Delete floating objects" number, as shown in this tutorial. This number is low by default, 16, as otherwise large pieces could be discarded without the user realizing it. 16 was chosen mostly so that floating bits of trees overlapping into the scene would be discarded. You can crank this number to 999999 and only the largest connected object will be saved.
  • Since cost is based on the model's weight (volume), my main thought is "how can I get rid of any blocks I'll never see?" The major part of the work is then making sure unseen rooms are sealed off, so that Mineways can do its job removing them. The easiest way to do this is to add torches to the entrances of rooms and then use the "Seal off entrances" option on the export dialog. What should then happen is that these sealed rooms get filled with glass, then the hollowing process will delete them. Note that you can play in and change your world while also running Mineways, just hit the "R" key in Mineways to reload your world with your changes.
  • Do I want to remove glass? If I want to look inside the building and it has glass in the windows, the glass should go (it doesn't print as transparent). Using a color scheme removes the glass, as described in this video tutorial (note that if you use glass panes, you should remove those, too). The downside of removing glass is that costs usually go up, since rooms won't then get removed by hollowing.
  • Does filling in the tunnels look better? I'll try the option "Fill in isolated tunnels in base of model" and see how things look on the outside: do I mind having these tunnels filled in? I'll also check the cost and see how much money this option saves me (the price is always lower).
  • Should I use the "Export lesser blocks" option? If I have fine details I think would look cool and I don't think they'll break off in printing, then I turn it on.
  • Should I use another texture pack? I'm still experimenting in this area, and in practice the printing process won't pick up on many fine details (I'm guessing about 8x8 pixel resolution detail at 2 mm/block; at 3 mm/block the details show up well), but certainly the colors and contrast of a texture pack makes a difference. See this section about how to create and use terrainExt.png files.