HomeFunRubik's Cube: Your Basic 15 Steps To Solve It

Rubik’s Cube: Your Basic 15 Steps To Solve It

Not only for engineers(cliche!): learn to solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than 2h. Rarely has any puzzle lasted so long. Almost fifty years after its invention, the Rubik’s Cube© still keeps its interest for the next generation, getting variants developed so as technical innovations. From Cubers communities with 100s of dedicated online channels, literature, and speedcubing competitions, that puzzle’s popularity is unrivaled.

Initially named the magic cube, the Rubik’s Cube© was invented by the Hungarian architect Erno Rubik in 1974, was first produced in 1977, and became a worldwide success in the 80s.

Thirty years later, at least 350 Million cubes have been produced until the original patent expired and even more millions have been produced since.

We firmly believe that the huge success of the Rubik’s cube is mainly due to its apparently impressive number of combinations (“Must be a Nobel prize to solve that!”) yet with simple design, and simple color principle … but in fact feasible in less time than many 2D puzzles.

Grab a coffee, scroll the page together with the video,
and within 2h the cube is yours!

Solving The Rubik’s Cube

Over the decades, many logic strategies have been developed (see Wikipedia’s link below) with their own sequences to solve the cube bits by bits. Various methods involve more or less complicated sequences to learn. We propose here to learn the simplest method, consisting of solving the cube layer by layer, with not-optimized sequences and preserving what was positioned before. FYI, in many record-breaking methods, or the computerized one indicated at the bottom of this post, you do not see final positioned pieces until the last moves, making it very hard to see the correct progress.

Following the steps and video below, it takes about 2 hours to learn How to solve the Rubik’s Cube© within 5 minutes

The best video tutorial to learn the 3 types of pieces, basic moves, and first combinations (the method is well-known and popularized in many books and sites, but definitely made extremely clear and comprehensive here by TheCubicle):

Reproductor de YouTube

Two basic sequences will be used repeatedly throughout the method. We recommend exercising these 2 first, in order not to mess up the cube in the middle of the solving and to have to start from scratch again (as we all did!). It is to be noticed that if you repeat any of them 6 times consecutively, the cube returns to its original state:

the “Righty ALG” = R U R’ U’

the “Lefty ALG” = L’ U’ L U

Note: the main hand turns & fingers move but if the initial position is correct, it does not need to be repositioned between steps, making these two sequences extremely fast.

Help! one can also enter any combination in this nice online 3D Rubik’s cube simulator to visualize any sequence, such as the two above

Side rotation to invert the cross
Side rotation to invert the cross

Solving the Bottom Layer

  • Make the white cross
    • First, position the 4 petals around the yellow center: find yourself the basic 1 to 3 moves to place each of the 4 white petals 🙂
    • Then invert the cross: side after side: align the 2nd layer center color corresponding to the one on the same side but on the top layer. Only then turn that full side 180°. Once done on the 4 sides, you should have a full white cross on the bottom face with two aligned same-color pieces on each side.
Top corner to bring down
Top corner to bring down
  • Solve the bottom white 4 corners: position the cube to have the white cross on the bottom side. For each corner that is not already white, position the required piece on the first layer, above the desired final position. Then repeat the Righty ALG until the part has reached the correct desired position. Repeat for every 3 corners if not already white.

Solving the Middle layer

With the previous step, all 4 side centerpieces have already in the final position. Just their 4 edges may be incorrect.

Solve the 4 middle-layer edges: for each edge needing to join the middle layer (means no edge with a yellow side):

Top edge to move right
Top edge to move right
  •  turn the top layer and position the desired top edge to move above the adjacent centerpiece of the same color (important as that color will stay on the same face after the move hereafter)
  • then it needs to join its final position side position on the middle layer by either moving it to the left or to the right of the middle layer:
    • if to the right edge: U, Righty ALG, rotate the cube to the left, Lefty ALG
    • if to the left edge: U’, Lefty ALG, rotate the cube to the right, Righty ALG

With this second layer, you should now have the 2 bottom layers completely finished

Solving the Top layer, The Yellow Face

Make the yellow cross on the top face (forget about the corners for the moment). The 3 possible situations:

    • if only a line of the cross is only already formed: orientate the cube so that the line is horizontal left-right on the top face, and then:

F, Righty ALG, F’ (“F” is a clockwise rotation of the 1 face facing you. F’ being counterclockwise)

    • if only one corner of the cross is already formed: orientate the cube so that this partial cross is on the bottom right of the top surface, then apply:

f, Righty ALG, f’ (“f” is a clockwise rotation of the 2 front layers facing you. f’ being counterclockwise)

    • if just the center of the yellow cross is already formed: apply 1st step above and you’ll get the corner of the cross, and then apply the 2nd step to get the full yellow cross

Position the 4 corners (but the wrong orientation/twist is OK)

Rotate the top layer so that the maximum corners are in their definitive position (for example the red/green/yellow corner on the corner between the red and the green face. It must be between these 2 faces, but twisted is OK). Then swap the needed corners, if needed, using 2 possible scenarios:

    • swap 2 same-side corners: position the cube so that the 2 corners to exchange are placed on the top right, then: 3x Righty ALG, turn the cube to the left, 3x Lefty ALG

Once done the corners are swapped, but you may need to rotate the top layer to reposition all faces together

    • swap 2 opposite corners: first swap 1 corner, then a 2nd time, by doing the previous move twice

Twist the 4 corners: position the cube with the yellow cross with corners to orientate facing down.

For each corner:

    • Turn the bottom layer (supporting the yellow cross), so that the corner to twist is on the bottom right
    • perform the Righty ALG as many times as needed until the yellow is facing down

Note: do finish ultimately the Righty ALG each time, even if the corner is already correctly positioned. Do not reorientate the cube in between each yellow corner, but turn only the bottom layer. This is the simplest but maybe the most deceptive move: in this step, until you have correctly orientated all 4 yellow corners, the cube looks scrambled.

Now either the cube is completely solved, or most likely, still, some work on the edges

Swap the top edges. 2 scenarios:

3 middle edges to swap
3 middle edges to swap
    • 3 edges need to be swapped: spin the cube so that the already correctly-positioned edge is facing you, then perform the following sequence of 4 moves to swap the other edges: 
        • Righty ALG once, 
        • Lefty ALG once,
        • Righty ALG five times,
        • Lefty ALG five times

Note: depending on the initial configuration of the 3 pieces to be swapped, you may need to repeat this sequence twice 

    • 4 edges need to be swapped: apply the same sequence as above, but without starting with an already solved edge in front of you as you have none yet. Then once you have it, you are exactly in the previous case, apply it again with the solved edge in front of you

Note: this is where having some practice of the Lefty ALG and Righty ALG initial advice comes into practice: if you make a mistake in any of these repetitive sequences or a wrong count …. you’ll likely have to restart everything from scratch, as you’ll likely not being able to undo the last moves 🙁

Voila! You’re finished solving your first magic cube. Congratulations!

Improve Your Cube Skills

Once you are confident with the method above, a world of cubes opens to you: many other algorithms, tricks, improvements, and methods exist. For this, check the dedicated cube sites of cube clubs. Additionally to the basic move describes in the video (R, U, L, F, M …) You will need to be familiar with the following Cube acronyms:

    • CFOP: Cross-F2L-OLL-PLL or the Fridrich method, is the one seen above
    • F2L: First Two Layers
    • OLL: Orientation of the last layer
    • PLL: Permute Last Layer

If you feel confident with memorizing a couple more move combinations, we recommend you then learn and practice the Roux method to solve faster the Rubik’s cube and go well under 60 seconds.

The Math of the Rubik’s Cube

For the math, we let you refer to the math section of the dedicated Wikipedia article. Yet so few colors on a just 3×3 cube size, as said, “if one had one standard-sized Rubik’s Cube for each permutation, one could cover the Earth’s surface 275 times, or stack them in a tower 261 light-years high“.

2x2 Rubik's Cube
2×2 Rubik’s Cube


One could think, like the Go or the Chess games, the cube does not evolve in its design. While the original still exists and is produced, many new versions have been issued, being clearly sometimes direct knock-offs of the original invention or bringing a fresh look and technical innovation in the rotating mechanism, anti-friction, maintenance, or manufacturing process … or connectivity (the most mechanical puzzle becomes electronic!):

Cube Variants
Cube Variants
  • designed for speed (and validated by the world cube association)
  • magnetic version
  • motorized cube
  • connected version, to have an app either giving you advice or scrambling it, or connecting to play remotely
  • robot to solve them automatically
  • other shapes and sizes: pyramid, spherical, octagons (…) from 2×2, 4×4 up to 21×21!

Robot Speed Cube

Have your DIY $40 robot solve the cube for you!

The full project is brought to you by Andrea with his CUBOtino robot project. He made efficient design choices for ease of assembly (2 servos, an ESP32 programmed via USB, and some simple parts, printable without support) and provides videos and full detailed PDF instructions.

FYI: This Rubik’s cube algorithm uses the Kociemba algorithm, the proven shortest-optimized algorithm that solves the cube in a maximum of 20 moves whatever the initial state may be. Details on this algorithm can be found here.

Rubik’s Cube World Record

No cube article would be complete without a video of the fastest-solving man in the world … and because it’s so fast, we can even include 5 performances within some seconds:

Reproductor de YouTube

Or solve it blindly, or while juggling 3 cubes at a time (…).

Dismounted Cube
Dismounted Cube

No need to dismount your Rubik’s Cube or reposition the stickers anymore to “solve” it!

You’re now ready to buy your next Rubik’s cube timer and join the online Rubik’s cube or Speed Cube community and participate in the World Cube Association.

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