FreeCell is a form of solitaire played with a single deck. The key to victory lies in the four free cells in the corner of the table—hence the name!

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To start a game

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click FreeCell.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. To begin, click a card at the bottom of one of the columns and drag it to a home cell, a free cell, or another column according to the rules below.

To save a game

  • If you need to finish a game later, just exit the game, and then click Save. The next time you play, you'll be asked whether you want to continue your last game. If so, click Yes.

To change game options

You can turn animation on or off, show tips, automatically save games, and more.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click FreeCell.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. Click the Game menu, and then click Options.

  4. Make your choices, and then click OK.

To customize the game's appearance

You can choose different card decks and table backgrounds.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click FreeCell.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. Click the Game menu, and then click Change Appearance.

  4. Make your choices, and then click OK.

Picture of the game FreeCell
FreeCell

FreeCell: rules and basics

The object

Create four stacks of 13 cards, one per suit in each of the four home cells. Each stack must be built from the low card (ace) to the high (king).

The table

FreeCell is played with a single deck of 52 cards, dealt face up into eight columns. You'll draw from these columns to build your four stacks:

  • In the upper-left corner are four free cells, where you temporarily store cards during play.

  • In the upper-right corner are four home cells, where you build the stacks needed to win.

How to play

Draw cards from the bottom of each column and move them in the following ways:

  • From column to free cell. Only one card can occupy each free cell at a time.

  • From column to column (or free cell to column). Cards must be placed on a column in descending sequential order, and alternating red and black.

  • From column to home cell. Each stack must consist of a single suit, and start with an ace.

Hints and tips

Ask for hints. Stuck? Press the H key to light up your next move.

Uncover buried cards. If you can't clearly see a card, right-click it. The card will remain visible as long as you hold down the mouse button.

Play it again, Windows. To play the same hand over, note the game number at the bottom-left corner of the screen, click the Game menu, click Select Game, and then type in that number. It's a fun way to test a different strategy, or to see if a friend could have played the same hand any better.

Plan ahead. Move cards deliberately to establish long runs, clear columns, and bring home aces.

Aces first. When low cards are buried in a column, it's better to dig them out and move them to a home cell early.

Free up free cells. The more available free cells there are, the easier it is to shift cards around. Aim to leave a free cell empty when a move is complete.

Clear whole columns. Whenever possible, move every card from a column and fill it again starting with as high a card as possible—ideally, nothing lower than a ten. Kings are best.