When held and right-clicked, a player will be displayed as a white pentagon-like shape on the map, with a small circle of the land surrounding it. The remaining part of the map is blank, meaning that it has been unexplored since the creation of the map. As a player walks around the world, the map will be slowly filled in. However, it must be held while walking around.
When the map has been fully filled in, a single map can be expanded by simply placing it in the crafting table and surrounding it with Paper. A single map can be expanded up to four times. Once this has been done, a new map must be crafted in order for a player to continue "mapping" unexplored areas. A map can also be duplicated. This is done by placing a blank map beside a used map in a Crafting Table.
Buildings created by a player will show up on the map (only if it is 16 by 16 blocks minimum), but if any changes are made to the buildings, they will not be displayed on the map until a player revisits that location with the map in hand. A player can also walk around with the map in their hands, so when they look down, the map is brought up to full screen, and when they look up, the map is brought down. This way players can look at a map and explore at the same time.
PC vs Console Versions
In the PC version of Minecraft, a single map cannot possibly display the entire world, as a Minecraft world is potentially infinite. However, in the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions, a single map can cover the entire world. In all versions except Pocket Edition and Pi Edition, the map will display any and all players in the world and their locations. This feature was first introduced in Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition and was later added into Minecraft Java Edition via update 1.5.
A map allows a player easily find their way back to a location they had previously found. Maps currently only support seeing surface locations. There is no support for underground locations.
In multiplayer, players can use a map to locate other players who happen to be within the area that map covers, as they will also appear as icons on the map.
Maps can be mounted within an item frame and hung on a wall. The map will expand to fill the side of the block upon which the item frame is mounted. In this way, smaller-scale maps can be arranged to create larger mosaic maps. Clicking on a map while it is mounted on the wall will rotate it by 90 degrees.
Maps can be renamed, duplicated, and expanded by a cartography table. You can find a cartography table in a village. Put two maps in the slots to duplicate and put a map and a piece of paper in the slots to expand.
- Maps work in The Nether, although the map must be crafted in the Nether. Maps crafted in the Nether do not work in the Overworld, and vice versa. Maps made in the Nether will not display any terrain because the roof of the world is covered in bedrock (making them quite useless).
- In the Minecraft Console Editions, players are automatically spawned with a map in their inventory.
- As of 1.4, when maps are crafted, they are labeled as empty maps and will show the current chunk a player is in when right-clicked. This can be very useful in finding Jungle Temples and Desert Temples, as they will appear on the map as well.
- As of the 1.9 update, the map can now be held in the left hand, which can make it a minimap of sorts. The map, along with arrows, for whatever reason, are the only items that can be held in the left hand in the Console Editions and Bedrock Edition.
- The "Map Room" achievement in the Pocket Edition and Windows 10 Edition requires players to complete and properly arrange 9 separate maps in a grid pattern in item frames.
- In the Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition, the map is not an item, nor is it given to players upon starting a new world. Instead the map is always shown on the bottom screen, along with the inventory.