Minecraft landscapeSource: Windows Central

The Java Edition of Minecraft is often considered to be the quintessential Minecraft experience by many hardcore Minecraft fans. So it stands to reason that Mojang would offer a way to test upcoming updates before their official release. Mojang often releases updates and such for Minecraft: Java Edition weeks or even months before the cross-platform Bedrock Edition sees it.

However, the beta for the Minecraft: Java Edition is a little different from others you may have participated in. Instead of having you enroll in a beta program, Mojang instead releases snapshots. These are miniature versions of the game that you run independently of the public release of Minecraft, strictly to try and test upcoming updates. Snapshots are released periodically, so be sure to check in from time to time for news on the latest releases.

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How to use snapshots in Minecraft

Minecraft landscapeSource: Windows Central

If you're worried about the complexity of playing with snapshots in Minecraft: Java Edition, don't be! None of the betas for Minecraft are particularly difficult to participate in, but the Java Edition is definitely the easiest to wrap your head around. Here's the step-by-step.

  1. Open the Minecraft Launcher on your PC. Yes, since this pertains to the Java Edition of Minecraft, you will need the Java Edition of Minecraft installed on your computer.

    Landing page of the Minecraft LauncherSource: Windows Central

  2. Find the Installations tab at the top of the Launcher and click it. The Installations tab is where you can manage different game versions, including but not limited to the snapshots.
  3. There are a few boxes under Versions located in the upper right-hand corner. Find Snapshots and select the box next to it. After a few moments, you should see the latest snapshot appear in the list of versions you have to choose from.

    Installations page of the Minecraft LauncherSource: Windows Central

  4. Once the snapshot appears, all you have to do is click the green Play button next to it. The Minecraft Launcher will take a moment to prepare and download the new snapshot, then Minecraft should start up like normal.

    Installations page of the Minecraft Launcher, with snapshotSource: Windows Central

  5. And you're good to play! It really is that simple.

Wrapping up

Whenever you're done with messing with the snapshot, select the vanilla version of Minecraft to play it instead. The most significant advantage of the Java Edition's beta is that you don't have to choose one or the other. You can jump back and forth as much as you want, without having to worry about jumping through hoops or constantly enrolling in different programs.

Do you have any crazy stories about times you tried playing a snapshot? What's been your favorite one? Sound off below!