There is a board on the screen initially filled with blank covered squares, the number depending on the game type. The main actions in the game consist of two things:
- left clicking a covered square, which "steps" in it and uncovers the contents of the square, assuming the square does not have a flag placed on it. Left clicking will not change the square in any way if there is a flag placed on the square.
- and right clicking on a covered square, which will do one of three things:
- places a flag if the square is blank (normally used if the player is sure there is a mine under the square)
- turns a flag into a question mark (normally used if the player merely suspects there is a mine under the square)
- turns a question mark into a normal covered square (normally used if the player no longer wishes either a flag or a question mark to be on the square)
Once a player has "stepped" into a square, the uncovered square will contain a number showing how many mines are contiguous. If there are no contiguous mines, the square is empty and all contiguous spaces are uncovered, showing nearby mines if there are any, and uncovering more spaces if there aren't any. If a mine is stepped on, that game is over.
The game is won when all non-mine spaces are uncovered. A high score is reached when a game is won in a particular non-custom game level in a record number of seconds.
Minesweeper on Operating Systems Other than Windows
Games very similar to Minesweeper exist on other OSes than Microsoft Windows, only with different names and different look-and-feel. Examples include KMines for GNU/Linux's KDE desktop environment and Mines for GNU/Linux's GNOME desktop environment.