Minecraft for Hoarders: Optimizing Minecraft chest sorting

Eventually, in Minecraft, you get to the point that you’ve got so many chests full of things that you either don’t know what to do with, are too lazy to sort, or both. While I can’t help with the first issue, Minecraft chest sorting is easier to fix up than you might think. Let’s get started!

Useful Tools

Before I detail the methods of organizing your Minecraft life, there are some other things I must mention. If you’re into modding for Java Edition, there are some useful mods that can help out with organizing, moving, and storing the items.

For Fabric and Forge, Inventory Profiles Next* helps tremendously for sorting, and for all mod loaders since 1.8.9, Item Scroller is available to help with transferring the items themselves. I highly recommend both.

There are also a few other mods that can help a bit:

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the sorting itself!

*This link leads to the 1.16-1.17 version. For the 1.14-1.16 version, see here. Note that some of the mods listed may not be compatible with each other.

So, how would I sort my storage?

First, there are two things you must determine: how you will sort it on the “micro” scale, and how you would divide it on the “macro” scale.

You can have the chests sorted perfectly by item, but if you’ve got redstone dust next to oak slabs and ender pearls next to cut sandstone stairs, that just isn’t going to work out very well!

Likewise, if you’ve got all of your mob drops in one area, but only two stacks of each type spread across ten chests, that won’t work either.

First, let’s take a look at the micro scale.

Micro Scale

Approach 1: Auto-sorters

To get the obvious out of the way: auto-sorters are one of the best ways to sort all of your items on a per-block basis. While functionally the easiest, it can be bad for server and/or client lag, as well as being resource intensive to build.

It is certainly a good option for limited quantities, but for bulk and larger systems, auto-sorters are not always sustainable.

There are a number of tutorials on YouTube detailing different auto-sorter designs if you wish to use one.

An auto-sorter built by a player on Empire Minecraft, shown from the back side with comparators, hoppers, and redstone dust.
An auto-sorter in the Frontier on EMC. Thanks to Cyberazaz101 for the image!

Approach 2: Per-block

The simplest method with manual sorting on the “micro” scale is the per-block approach. With this method, every single block has its own chest or storage area; this even includes things like slabs and stairs having their own chests.

This is the best approach for bulk items, where you may have multiple double chests of one item. This can also be the most flexible way if you intend to expand your storage later.

While the simplest method, it takes up a lot of chests if you have a small amount of each item. For example, if you only have six string, you probably shouldn’t be dedicating a whole chest to it.

Approach 2.5: Per-block plus Derivatives

I personally use this sort. With the per-block plus derivatives approach, every block has its own chest or set of chests, but derivatives stay in the same chest. What do I mean by that? As an example, let’s take polished blackstone, polished blackstone bricks, blackstone slabs, and all the other wacky versions Mojang decided to make. This method would put all of those into the same chest, instead of a separate one for each.

How much you simplify this is up to you; in the example above, you may have polished blackstone derivatives in a different chest from plain blackstone. On the other end of the spectrum, you might have every nether-related block in the same chest. It’s completely up to you.

For Minecraft chest sorting, I use the Per-block plus Derivatives sort. This image shows me standing in front of a wall of chests with item frames on them.
My storage system!

Approach 3: Categories

Another simple method for Minecraft chest sorting is to use categories. This is best for when you don’t have a lot of blocks or items overall, but a lot of different types of items.

This is also the approach that gives the highest level of freedom and creativity to you.

At its essence, with this method, you divide all of your items into separate categories. Not very helpful: I know. As an example of this, if I have:

  • Three stacks of arrows,
  • Two stacks of leather,
  • Four stacks of rotten flesh,
  • One stack of spider eyes, and
  • Two stacks of string

Well… I’m not going to be very inclined to give them each their own chest, especially if these values vary from time to time. Thus, a catch-all “mob drops” chest (or chests) category is a great solution here.

Like the last approach, you can make this as specific or as broad as you want. You can have, say, an “oak” category, or you could have a “wood” category. It all depends upon how much stuff you have, and how much room you want to give yourself to grow.

This is also the place where the Inventory Profiles mod mentioned above comes into play. When Minecraft chest sorting, there are many useful functions you can use. I think it would be better to show it in action instead of explaining what it can do.

Pretty impressive. huh? Minecraft mods can be great.

Approach 4: All of them!

Don’t feel like you have to stick to a specific one of these! When sorting your Minecraft chests, there will be outliers, exceptions, and all the rest. It is a-okay to be using a combination of the methods listed. Maybe you even want to use all of them at the same time. You could have enough of a few items where the per-block works for them, but for the rest, an auto-sorter might work better. It is entirely up to you!

Macro Scale

Approach 1: Alphabetized

One of the simpler methods for Minecraft chest sorting on the macro-scale, and the one I personally use, is to alphabetize it. This works best with the per-block (with or without derivatives) method, as whenever you need something, you can just go to the letter you need and find it. Now, does P come before R or S? I can never remember.

The major disadvantage to this method is if you use the “categories” micro-sort anywhere. If you’re able to use this method with the categories sort, by all means, do it; however, sometimes, it can be confusing what category is where and all.

As an example of this disadvantage, say you have a “Nature” chest, for things like saplings, seeds, and other stuff like that. Say you also have quite a number of flowers. Are your flowers in the nature chest? Did you make a separate chest for flowers? Did you even have a nature chest in the first place? The only way to really know is if you’ve memorized all of your categories (which is unlikely; trust me, I’ve tried it.)

Approach 2: Item IDs (for 1.12 or earlier)

If you’re using Minecraft version 1.12 or earlier and using the per-block sort you can sort the items based on item ID. While it is an option, this is also not a very good one, because you would need to memorize all of the item ID numbers. If you’re able to remember that number 166 is barriers, though, by all means, feel free to use it. Wait, why do you have barriers in survival?

Approach 3: Vaults

If you play on Empire Minecraft, you’re probably aware of our handy-dandy portable storage system known as Vaults. What you might not be aware of, though, is the alias feature. If you type /vault alias 3 tools, you can, from thereon out, do /vault tools to access that third vault. Just remember the name, and boom!

This image shows my third vault page, which has the title of "Page: 3 - tools". Vaults and vault aliases are an exclusive feature of Empire Minecraft.
/vault tools brings me to my third vault, full of… tools! What else did you expect?

It should be noted, however, that it is not possible to use auto-sorters with vaults. All of the other methods work just fine, though!


In conclusion, Minecraft chest sorting isn’t that bad! It may seem overwhelming at first, but just work on a little bit at a time and try out the organization techniques above. You’ll have a great system for sorting in no time!

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