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How to solve a Rubik’s Cube

For a very long time, one of the go-to methods to depict “genius” in a movie was the character’s ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Since the Hungarian inventor and architect Ernõ Rubik created the cube in 1974, it has received wide critical acclaim from top mathematicians and scientists across the globe.

Originally called the Magic Cube, this brilliant contraption is undoubtedly one of the greatest puzzles ever created.

Although the Rubik’s Cube fell out of popularity for a few years, there’s no doubt that the puzzle is back and here to stay. Especially with the creation of the World Cube Association, the magic cube has garnered more levels of interest worldwide.

The World Cube Association was established in 2003. And in 2018, Yusheng Du set the world speedcubing record by solving the puzzle in just 3.47 seconds!

If you’ve just got a Rubik’s Cube and are trying to solve it for the first time, don’t let the concept of speedcubing deter you. It may take you more than an hour to get things right on the first try.

But as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And as Erno Rubik said, “The elegant solution, the quality of the solution, is much more important than timing.”

Let’s jump right in and learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

How To Solve A Rubik’s Cube For Beginners

The beginner’s method of solving the Rubik’s Cube spans a series of stages and steps. You’ll need to solve the cube in layers. It can seem like a lot to take in at first, but you’ll get the hang of it with consistency.

We’ve separated this beginner’s method into four stages, each with its own steps. Grab your Rubik’s Cube and let’s begin!

Stage 1: Solving The Bottom Layer

Solving the bottom layer is the easiest part of solving a Rubik’s Cube. There is no cube algorithm to cram— all you’ll need is simple logic.

When you’re done with this stage, you will have solved the entire white face and the first layer of your cube. It should look something like this:

Solved bottom layer of a Rubik's cube

Step 1: The Daisy

To solve the bottom layer, the first thing you’ll need to create is something that’s popularly known as the daisy.

If you look at your cube, you’ll find that the yellow sticker in the center is on the opposite side of the center white sticker. These pieces will stay in their place, as with all the other centerpieces on the cube. If there’s a blue/red sticker in the center, then that face will be blue/red when you’re done with the cube. 

To form the daisy, you’ll need to move the pieces around until you have the white stickers in the middle of each edge, surrounding the yellow center. Don’t rush the process. It can seem a little confusing at first, but you’ll undoubtedly get the hang of it.

When you’re done with this step, you should have something like this:

Solving the daisy on a Rubik's cube

As you can see in the above image, the white pieces form a cross around the yellow piece in the center. Sometimes, you may notice that your daisy doesn’t look exactly like the above picture—when you have a white corner piece alongside the edge pieces.

For example, your daisy may look like this:

Top view of the a different type of solved daisy on a Rubik's cube

If you’re in this category, not to worry!

The main thing for this step is that your white pieces form a “cross” around your center yellow piece. If you have that, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: White Cross

Once you’ve formed the daisy, the next thing to do is to switch the white pieces in the daisy to where they belong—with the white center below.

However, note the other centerpieces on the sides before you start turning faces. Your white stickers have blue, red, or green stickers on the other side.

Again, when solving a Rubik’s Cube, one of the most important things you’ll need to note is the center colors. These determine what colors an entire face has. If you have a white centerpiece, the entire face of that part of the cube must be white, and the same goes for the other colors too.

To solve the first layer of edge pieces and form the white cross, turn the top layer (the daisy) around until the adjoining sticker on the edge piece matches the color in the center. For example, the adjoining blue sticker on the white edge piece matches a blue centerpiece in the image below.

When you’re done, your white cross should look like this:

The white cross on the bottom layer of a rubik's cube

Step 3: Holding Your Cube

Before we move on to the next steps, it’s important to address how to hold a Rubik’s Cube. Before this step, you could hold the cube whichever way you wanted as long as your white pieces got sorted. 

However, now that we’re getting to the slightly tricky parts, it’s important to hold the cube the right way so your combinations can work. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about holding a Rubik’s Cube:

  • The yellow center must always be on top. This also means that your white center will always be on the bottom.
  • Hold the cube with both hands with your thumb and middle fingers. You can also use your other fingers to hold the cube for more stability.
  • Leave your index fingers free to rotate the cube.

Step 3: Trigger Moves

Now that you have your white cross and have learned how to hold the cube upside/in the proper position, the next step is to fix the other white stickers on the bottom face. If you find extra white stickers on the corners, this is nothing to worry about.

As long as you have the white cross, everything is in order.

Before you can solve the other white corners, there is a fundamental notation you’ll need to learn. This notation is called a trigger move and is pivotal to solving the puzzle. 

Right Trigger Move

Trigger moves are easy once you understand the notations. For a right trigger move, the notation is: R, U, R’ 

  • R – Move the right face upwards, away from you.
  • U – Move the upper face with your right index finger towards you.
  • R’ – Move the right face downwards, back towards you.
Left Trigger Move

The left trigger move is the same as the right trigger—only that this time you’re using your left index finger to rotate the cube. The cube notation here is: L, U, L’

  • L – Move the left face away from you
  • U – Move the upper face with your left index finger towards you
  • L’ – Move the left face back towards you

Step 4: Solve White Corners

Try initiating the right and left trigger moves to see if you’ve gotten the hang of it. You can also run through the steps we’ve addressed above again to see if you really understand what’s going on.

Now, once you have the white cross, you’ll need to initiate the left or right trigger moves to solve the first layer corners on the bottom of the cube. Once again, the middle centerpieces are important for what we’ll do here. You’ll find the white corner pieces on different sides of the cube—usually on the left and right faces of the top layer.

To place the white stickers in the correct position, check what colors are on the other side of the white stickers and orient them towards their matching centerpieces. For example, if you have a white corner piece with an adjoining blue, rotate the top layer until the blue meets the face with a blue centerpiece.

You should have something like this:

As you can see in the above image, the adjoining green sticker on the white corner piece is oriented correctly towards the face with a green centerpiece.

For the image above, the left trigger move is the proper notation to move the white piece downwards. This is because the green sticker is on the left side of the green center. Where the sticker is on the right side of the center, you’ll need to initiate the right trigger move.

In this scenario, the correct move is the right trigger move.

White Pieces On Top Layer Corners

There are instances where you’ll find a white corner piece on top of the cube, like in the image above. If you’ve encountered this, the simple solution is as follows:

  • Rotate the top face until the white sticker is above a non-white sticker below
  • Depending on what side of the cube the white sticker is on, perform a left or right trigger move
  • Instead of running the trigger move once, run it twice.
White Pieces On Bottom Layer Corners

It’s also possible that you have a white piece on the bottom layer rather than on the left or right faces of the top layer. In this situation, all you need to do is perform the necessary trigger move once to reorient the piece.

Once you’re done solving the white face, your first layer corners should be oriented correctly as well! If not, that means you have the wrong orientation. Try running through the steps again until you get something like this:

A rubik's cube with solved bottom layer

Stage Two: Solving The Middle Layer

Solving the middle layer is also reasonably straightforward. You’ll need the same algorithm you used for the trigger moves, alongside remembering how important your centerpieces are. Let’s get to it!

Identify Middle Pieces Without Yellow Stickers

To completely solve the second layer, take note of the middle pieces on the cube’s top face. These are pieces surrounding the yellow piece in the center, and they will have two stickers.

Once you’ve identified these pieces, ignore the ones with a yellow sticker and note the ones with other colors.

For instance, the top edge piece in the picture above has a blue and orange sticker.

Align With Center Pieces

Once you’ve identified an edge piece without a yellow sticker, rotate the top layer to align with the centerpiece. Keep turning the top layer to find the correct position with the center.

You’ll get something similar to the picture below:

Trigger Moves

Once again, your knowledge of trigger moves will come in handy to get the middle layer into the correct position. This time, there’s a small caveat.

Once you’ve aligned with the centerpiece, look at the adjoining color on the top face. Check the right and left face to see which of the centerpieces has the same color as the piece on your top face.

How to align the center piece when trying to solve a Rubik's cube.

In the picture above, we see that the blue sticker on the top layer matches the blue center on the cube’s left side. Hence:

  • Rotate the upper face of the cube with your left index finger—the U’ notation.
  • Perform the left trigger move

If the center sticker similar to the one on the top face is on the right, rotate the upper face of the cube with your right index finger and perform the right trigger move.

Reorient Solved Pieces

The first thing you’ll notice when you initiate a trigger move at this stage is that some of your solved pieces—the white face and bottom layer pieces have been displaced. This is normal. Simply perform the required trigger move as outlined in Step 3 of Stage One to put the pieces back into their correct position.

Once the pieces on the bottom layer and face are in their correct positions, repeat the algorithm in this stage and perform the right trigger moves to reorient the whole cube until you solve the second layer completely.

When Top Pieces All Have Yellow Stickers

This can pose a bit of a challenge. Sometimes, you won’t have any middle pieces without a yellow sticker on the top face. But don’t let that bother you. Simply carry out the following:

  • Turn your cube around—keep in mind that the yellow centerpiece must remain on top of your cube and perform a right trigger move.
  • Reorient the cube to solve the white face again as stipulated above.

Now, you should have at least a middle piece without a yellow sticker on the top face. Repeat the steps listed in this stage to finish solving the second layer.

Stage Three: Solving The Top Face

Congratulations on making it this far! You’ve reached the last layer of the cube. This stage shows you how to solve a part of the final positions for the finished cube.

Step 1: Yellow Cross/Yellow Edges

To solve the yellow edge pieces and form the yellow cross, initiate the following algorithm: F, U, R, U’, R,’ F’.

F – Rotate front face clockwise

U – Rotate upper face clockwise

R – Rotate right face clockwise

U’ – Rotate upper face counterclockwise

R’ – Rotate right face counterclockwise

F’ – Rotate front face counterclockwise

You’ll need to repeat this algorithm until you get the correct edge pieces for the yellow cross.

These are the last layer edge pieces—once you solve them, all that’ll be left is to solve for the corner pieces and then situate the remaining edge pieces on the four corners in their correct place. If some corner pieces are already solved, it’s nothing to worry about.

PS: Getting a wrong orientation at this stage may require you to start the Rubik’s cube algorithm over from scratch.

Step 2: Solve Yellow Corners

Once you’ve solved the yellow cross, you’ll need to address solving the yellow corner pieces. The yellow edges may have been a tad bit tricky to solve, but this part is fairly easier because you must have already become more familiar with cube notations. When you’re done with this step, your cube will look like this:

Solving the yellow corners of a Rubik's cube

You’ll need another cube algorithm to solve the yellow corners. Check out the following algorithm: R, U, R’, U, R, U2, R’.

R – Rotate right face clockwise

U- Rotate upper face clockwise

R’ – Rotate right face counterclockwise

U2 – Rotate upper face 180° in a clockwise motion

Unlike when we were solving for the second layer, this algorithm will not require you to reorient the pieces in the first or second layer corners. Once you notice that one corner or another part of the solved pieces has been displaced, it means that you’ve made a mistake somewhere.

Also, note that you’ll need to repeat the R, U, R’, U, R, U2, R’ algorithm until you’ve completely solved the yellow corners. In some instances, your cube may look like this—with one yellow corner already solved:

A Rubik's cube with Yellow cross

Here, ensure that the top layer is arranged like this, with the yellow stickers in the form of a fish, and repeat the R, U, R’, U, R, U2, R’ notation. You may have to repeat the notation twice to completely solve the last layer corners.

Stage Four: Fixing Last Layer Corners

This is the final step to follow to ultimately solve the Rubik’s cube. Although you’ve solved the cube’s bottom, middle and last layer, the corner pieces aren’t all solved yet.

This stage addresses the final moves to solve the whole puzzle completely.

Align Corner Pieces

The corner piece has been an essential part of our journey, and they’ll come in handy here too. Inspect your corner pieces to see if any of them align.

If they don’t, here’s a new algorithm: L’, U, R, U’, L, U, R’, R, U, R’, U, R, U2, R’

L’ – Rotate left face counterclockwise

U – Rotate upper face clockwise

R – Rotate right face clockwise

U’ – Rotate upper face counterclockwise

L – Rotate left face clockwise

R’ – Rotate right face counterclockwise

U2 – Rotate upper face 180° in a clockwise motion

If any of the corner pieces have been solved, hold that face in your left hand and repeat the algorithm until all your corner pieces match.

Rotations To Solve The Edge Piece

This is the last step to solving the Rubik’s cube. Inspect your cube to see if any of the faces have been completely solved. If yes, turn the top layer of the cube until it perfectly aligns with the rest of that face.

Let the fully solved face of the Rubik’s cube face away from you. You’ll notice that just three edge pieces are displaced in the entire cube. Each edge piece needs to move 90° from its current position to the next one—except for the piece that will cross the already solved face.

Clockwise Rotation

Take note of how the edge pieces need to move. If they need to move in a clockwise motion, use the following algorithm: F2, U, R’, L, F2, L’, R, U, F2.

F2 – Rotate front face twice in the clockwise direction

U – Rotate upper face clockwise

L – Rotate left face clockwise

L’ – Rotate left face anti-clockwise

R – Rotate right face clockwise

R’ – Rotate right face anti-clockwise

Counter Clockwise Rotations

If the edge pieces need to move counterclockwise, use the following notation: F2, U’, R’, L, F2, L’, R, U’, F2.

F2 – Rotate front face twice in the clockwise direction

U – Rotate upper face clockwise

L – Rotate left face clockwise

L’ – Rotate left face anti-clockwise

R – Rotate right face clockwise

R’ – Rotate right face anti-clockwise

Zero Edge Pieces Solved

Sometimes, none of the faces will have been solved when you align corner pieces.

If you’re in that situation, don’t worry. You’ll need to perform the counterclockwise rotation once and then the clockwise rotation. Then, you’ll have finished solving the Rubik’s cube.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest way to solve a Rubik’s cube?

The easiest method to solve a Rubik’s cube is through the beginner’s method. Here you’ll solve layer by layer until you solve the whole cube. This method is the original method developed by Erno Rubik, the creator of the cube.

What are the steps to solving a Rubik’s cube?

  1. Form the white cross
  2. Solve white corners
  3. Fix the middle layer
  4. Create the yellow cross
  5. Solve the entire yellow face
  6. Align corner pieces
  7. Solve remaining edge pieces

What is the fastest method to solve a 3×3 Rubik’s cube?

The fastest way to solve a Rubik’s cube is through the Fridrich method created by Jessica Fridrich. This is a popular option for speedcubers as it allows them to solve the cube in 20 seconds or less for expert cubers. There are four steps in the Fridrich method, but each step is filled with multiple algorithms.

Can a Rubik’s cube be unsolvable?

Definitely. Usually, this will happen if the cube has been taken apart before and reassembled randomly. Another way a cube can become unsolvable is if a corner twist occurs when solving the cube.

How long does it take to solve the Rubik’s cube?

For beginners, expect to spend at least an hour on your first solve. As you continue to practice, you’ll be able to solve the cube within minutes—seconds if you’re really consistent. Yusheng Du currently holds the world record for solving the cube in 3.47 seconds.

How long does it take to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube?

On average, it’ll take at least an hour to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube for the first time. You’ll need to get familiarized with cube notations, algorithms, and moves, and that can take a while.

How can I memorize cube algorithms fast?

Consistency is key. Practice the algorithms over and over again to gain mastery and build your muscle memory. If you’re really consistent, you’ll have crammed all the algorithms within a week or less.

Does cubing make you smarter?

Absolutely. Many studies show that people who actively solve the Rubik’s cube have higher IQ levels compared to those that don’t. Cube solving also helps improve muscle memory and further develop your cognitive abilities.

At what age can kids solve the Rubik’s cube?

Kids who love puzzles can begin to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube from as young as three years old. The youngest cube solver in the world is Ruxin Lui, who solved the cube when she was only three years and 118 days old.

What is the roux method?

This is a cube-solving method developed by Gilles Roux. There are lesser moves involved with this method, but it’s slightly more complicated than the original method to solve a Rubik’s cube.

Toby Grey contributes as a How To expert for BGR. Typing away like a keyboard super hero, he covers just about anything you can think of. If Toby isn't writing, he's probably reading a book or playing video games.