The Easiest Way to Solve a Rubik's Cube, With Step-by-Step Pictures & Video
For returning visitors: I've simplified this article even further by replacing some of the steps with shorter and easier moves, thus eliminating the need for entire steps that I had previously posted.
Solving the Rubik's Cube Is Easier Than You Think!
Many people give up on the Rubik's Cube after playing it for only a few minutes and never pick it up again.
Here is the secret:
It's almost impossible to solve the cube without knowing the basic solution method. The solution pamphlet that comes with a store-bought cube can be very confusing, so I've arranged this article to make it simple, and I've included pictures and videos.
You do not have to memorize long complicated algorithms to solve the cube using this article.
For beginners, the layer-by-layer method is the easiest.
The first step in this method starts with picking a color to build the 1st layer. A layer is 8 cubies, has 9 stickers on the face, and 12 stickers around the outside edges of the face.
For the purposes of this article, I will pick the white side as my first color to start solving the cube.
Get to Know Your Cube
Before getting started on the layer-by-layer method, it's important to go over the basics.
On each of the 6 faces, the cube has 3 kinds of stickers:
- The center dot
- The 4 corner stickers
- The 4 edge stickers
In total, there are:
- 6 center dots, 1 color each, at the center of each face.
- 12 edges, which have 2 colors each, and are in-between the center and corner dots.
- 8 corners, which have 3 colors each, and are on the left & right, and top & bottom of each edge cubie.
There are 20 "cubies" that can be moved around, while the 6 center dots always remain in place.
A cubie is an edge or corner.
A "face" is a side of the cube (9 stickers only). In the picture above you can see the white face. It is the side of the cube that is always facing you on the front, no matter what color it is. Its opposite is the back face.
The rules for the faces are the same as the colors:
- Face (F) & back (B) are on opposite sides of the cube, the front and the back.
- Left (L) & right (R) are on the left and right sides of the cube.
- Up (U) & down (D) are on the top and bottom of the cube.
The standard notation for the cube is up, down, left, right, face, and back, or U, D, L, R, F, B for short.
Helpful Hint: Cube Color Schemes
In American models, the following colors are always opposite of each other.
- Green and Blue
- Orange and Red
- White and Yellow
Take the following quiz to see if you can use your knowledge of color scheme to figure out the hidden colors of the cube in the above diagram.
How to Read Rubik's Cube Notations
Rubik's Cube instructions will tell you to rotate to different sides. So, when the instructions tell you to move up, it means to turn the up side clockwise 90 degrees (1/4 the way around the top of the cube).
Another way to look at it is to imagine you are looking at the top of the cube and you want to turn a hand on a clock from 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock, so you would turn the top layer to the right one time.
The short video below shows the basic cube notation and solves the checkerboard pattern at the end.
NOTE: For all the videos in this article, be sure you have the annotations turned on to see the instructions.
Watch full-screen & high quality to see the instructions better. Slow the video down if necessary. Pause the video at anytime. The settings for the videos can be found in the lower right hand corner of the video.
Video: Basic Cube Notation
Basic Cube Notation Chart
Solving the First Layer
Step 1: The Daisy Flower
Find the yellow center dot and you're ready to start solving the 1st layer.
- To start solving, make the "Daisy Flower" on the yellow face.
- The yellow face has the yellow center dot.
- Move the 4 white edges to the yellow face as shown below.
- The color of the corner stickers do not matter.
- Watch the video below the picture for an example solve of the Daisy Flower.
Step 2: The White Cross
Now you just need to move those four white edges to the white face, and line them up with the blue, red, green, and orange center dots.
That will complete the "White Cross." The video below the picture shows an example.
Step 3: Corners With White Stickers
- To finish the 1st layer, the corners with the white stickers need to be put into place.
- For this, and from this point on, you can keep the white face on the left side of the cube.
- There are 4 corners with white stickers, and they can be put into place 1 of 3 ways.
- The 3 pictures below each show one way. Below each picture is an example video.
Solving the Second Layer
To complete the second layer, the 4 edges that do not have a yellow sticker need to be put in-between the center dots in the 2nd layer (blue, red, green, and orange).
They can be put into place 1 of 3 ways. The 3 pictures below show each one. Below each picture is a video example.
First Two Layers: Inserting the Edges (Case 1)
In this picture, below, the green/orange edge is on top, lined up with the green center dot. It needs to be moved toward you and to your left.
First Two Layers: Inserting the Edges (Case 2)
In this picture, below, the blue/orange edge is on the front, lined up with the blue center dot. It needs to be moved up and to your left.
First Two Layers: Inserting the Edges (Case 3)
Shown in the picture below, this is a case that does not happen as often as the others, and takes a few more moves to solve. The green/red edge is already in place, and it needs to be flipped.
Solving the Third (Last) Layer
Step 1: The Yellow Cross
The "Yellow Cross" is the first thing to make for the 3rd layer, which is the 1st of the 4 pictures below.
You're only looking at the yellow stickers on the yellow face, specifically the edges only. The colors on the 4 corners do not matter, and neither does the 2nd color of the yellow edges.
Case 1: You Got the Yellow Cross! A Skip!
This happens, if you have the yellow cross already, awesome! This is called a "skip" and you can skip on down to "Align the Yellow Cross."
If you have one of the 3 cases below you will have to flip the yellow edges to make the yellow cross before you can continue.
1 short algorithm fixes all 3 of the following cases. Watch the video for your case number to see it in action.
- (U F R) (F' R' U') === (Up, Face, Right) (Face invert, Right invert, Up invert)
Note: "invert" means to do the move counter-clockwise. Remember lefty loosey . . . imagine it like opening a soda bottle.
Case 2: The Yellow Dot
This is when none of the 4 yellow edges are visible on the yellow face. Thankfully, this almost never happens.
Solve it like this:
- Do the algorithm once to get the yellow "L".
- Put that "L" in the lower back corner with an R2 (right twice)
- Do the algorithm again to get the yellow "line".
- Then, make sure the "line" is horizontal, and do the algorithm once more to get the "Yellow Cross".
Case 3: The Yellow "L"
This is by far the most common case. It's when 2 of the 4 yellow edges are visible on the yellow face, making it look like an "L".
- Put that "L" in the lower back corner
- Do the algorithm once to get the yellow "line"
- Then, make sure the "line" is horizontal
- Then, do the algorithm once more to get the "Yellow Cross"
Case 4: The Yellow "Line"
This happens once in a while. It's when 2 of the 4 yellow edges are visible on the yellow face, making it look like a line.
- Make sure the "line" is horizontal
- Then, do the algorithm once to get the "Yellow Cross"
Once you have the Yellow Cross, it's time to line it up with the center dots in the 2nd layer.
Step 2: Align the Yellow Cross
In the following picture, the yellow cross is complete, but it is not correctly lined up with the center dots (the blue, red, green, and orange center dots in the 2nd layer).
Note: If all 4 yellow edges are already lined up correctly, you can skip down to "Moving the Corners".
1 algorithm will fix this.
- (U R U') (R U R2 U') === (Up, Right, Up invert) (Right, Up, Right twice, Up invert)
I have an easy way of setting up the cube before doing the algorithm to make this work.
First line up 1 of the yellow edges with the same color as the center dot on the top of the cube, like in the picture below. Blue, in this case.
Now look at the yellow edge on the front of the cube. In this case it is green, and it needs to be red.
So, move that green sticker to the top of the cube, and do the algorithm one time, and then put the blue sticker back on top of the cube like it was before and see if the sticker on the front has changed to red.
Watch this video below to see it.
Now all you have to fix are the corners.
Moving the Corners (If Necessary)
- The algorithm: (R' U' R D) (R' U R D')
If all 4 yellow corners are already in place, you can skip down to "Twisting the Corners."
In the following picture, everything is solved except the 4 remaining corners, and 3 of them are not in their correct positions.
(This step moves them to their correct spots, and they may still be twisted afterwards).
Watch the video below the picture to see the algorithm.
Last Step: Twisting the Corners (If Necessary)
- The algorithm: (U L U' L') (U L U' L')
Continuing from the previous video, this step will twist the corners and solve the cube.
- Place one of the twisted corners at the top-front position and do the algorithm one time.
- The corner will either be solved afterwards, or not.
- If not, then do the algorithm one more time and it will be.
- Important: After that, rotate the 3rd layer to put another twisted corner in the top-front position, and do the algorithm again.
- Then it's the same as before. The corner will either be solved afterwards, or not.
- If not, then do the algorithm one more time and it will be.
Watch this last video to see it in action. (It looks like it is really messing up the cube a lot, but have no fear, it will solve itself in the end!).
The Cube Should Now Be Solved!
If not, you may have a situation where the cube has been taken apart at some time or another, and did not get put back together properly.
The way you can tell if this is the case is if:
- There is only 1 cubie that is twisted or flipped...
- There are colors on two or more of the cubies that need to be swapped with each other.
- In the case of that happening, you will have to pop out the cubies and put them where they go or twist or flip them. This is not cheating in any way at all.