Bitcoin Wallets

WALLETS


Bitcoin Wallets for Desktop
All apps supported on:
WindowsmacOSLinux


Beginner friendly.
Lightning payments.
Privacy oriented.

Tips
  • Spending frequently? Consider a Lightning Wallet.
  • Using a full node is important. However, it has pros and cons. Learn more here.
  • Respect your privacy? Learn how to keep it here.
Bitcoin Wallets for Mobile


Beginner friendly.
Privacy oriented.
Bitcoin Hardware Wallets


100% air gapped
Bitcoin only firmware to reduce attack surface of altcoins.
Optional Bitcoin only firmware to reduce attack surface of altcoins.

Tips
  • What is a hardware wallet?
  • A hardware wallet is a good option if you are not computer savvy.
  • Different hardware manufacturers may use different methods of doing offline transactions. Each have trade-offs. Research what is best for you. For example, a hardware wallet may use an SD card, QR Code Scanner or USB.
Lightning Wallets for Desktop
All apps supported on:
WindowsmacOSLinux


Beginner friendly.
Option to connect your Lightning node.
Tor support for increased privacy.
Lightning Wallets for Mobile


Beginner friendly.
Option to connect personal Lightning node.
Tor support for increased privacy.
Not open source code.
Custodial.
Tips
  • Lightning is great for frequent smaller valued transactions like for shopping. Learn about Lightning here.
  • Looking to just store money? Consider a Bitcoin wallet.


Basic Function

The basic functions of a wallet are to:

  • send / receive / store bitcoin
  • create a wallet password
  • create a backup of your wallet


Sending

To send bitcoin, copy & paste the receiver's bitcoin address into the "send to" field of your bitcoin wallet.

Send Fee

Sending bitcoin has a transaction fee. Fees should be handled by the wallet software, so you shouldn't need to worry about fees as a beginner.


Tips
  • Wallet generated QR codes can be scanned by devices like smartphones to autofill bitcoin address and amount payable.
Receiving

Bitcoin uses unique bitcoin addresses generated by the wallet to receive bitcoin.

Example: 35JZ72myPm2HUNLHq2ozA6Z2dvbmSCFV3W

To receive bitcoin, give a bitcoin address generated by your wallet to the sender and the sender can copy & paste the address into their wallet's "send to" field.

Tips
  • Wallets generate as many bitcoin addresses as needed.
  • Wallets can generate bitcoin addresses while disconnected from internet and will receive bitcoin sent to it.
  • Wallet generated QR codes can be scanned to autofill in bitcoin address and amount payable into a wallet.
Different Wallet Backup Types

  • Seed Phrase

A seed phrase is a wallet backup in the form of 12 or 24 words. It's the most common wallet backup type because it's the most convenient and secure method. It's also a universal standard between Bitcoin wallets so it can be used to restore a wallet using most of the available Bitcoin wallets out there.

Standard Bitcoin wallets and hardware wallets generate a seed phrase for you to secure and store away safely. Typically, it's generated during the wallet's initial setup process.

You always want to generate a seed phrase offline so that it never gets exposed to the internet. See the wallet backups tab to learn how.

Caution
  • Record the 12 or 24 seed phrase words in the exact order it was presented as. When you restore the wallet, it will only accept the words in the exact same order they were originally presented to you.

Other less common backup methods:
  • Backup file: this digital file backs up the whole wallet and can be used to restore it. The Bitcoin full node software called Bitcoin Core uses this as one backup method and is not a widely used backup method for wallets.
  • Private key(s): this is a long string of characters/numbers that backup just the one associated bitcoin address. For almost all wallets, you have to go out of your way to retrieve individual private keys because the seed phrase backup method is more convenient and safer.

    Bitcoin Address Example:
    1J7mdg5rbQyUHENYdx39WVWK7fsLpEoXZy

    Private Key Example Paired with the Above Bitcoin Address:
    KxFC1jmwwCoACiCAWZ3eXa96mBM6tb3TYzGmf6YwgdGWZgawvrtJ

Caution
  • If for some reason you decided to backup private keys individually, know that if you ever spend from it, many wallets send the remaining bitcoin balance to a new bitcoin address meaning you need to backup the new bitcoin address and private key that the remaining bitcoin was sent to. If this happens, the old private key will be empty.

Tips
  • Always keep your backup private, store it securely and offline. (see wallet backups tab)
  • Record a seed phrase in the exact order it was given.
  • Seed phrases / private keys should be generated on a device disconnected from the internet.
Restore

You can recover your wallet by typing in the seed phrase words (in the exact order it was given to you during the intial wallet setup) into the new wallet's restore feature.

Tips
  • Never enter a seed phrase on a device connected to the internet.
  • Never type a seed phrase into a web browser.
  • Type the seed phrase in the exact order it was originally given for a successful restore.
Do Some Tests

If you are new or want to be cautious, try:

  • Doing a test backup and restore with an empty wallet. Get familiar to how the process is. If you tested on a device connected to the internet, delete the empty wallet and create a new one (on an offline device again) so that your backup is not exposed to the internet. Proceed to use new wallet.

  • Sending a test transaction to the wallet first. Just a small amount. Then check if your wallet received the bitcoin on a block explorer (if your wallet is offline cold storage).

Tips
  • Multiple live instances of your wallet can exist simultaneously. For example: you can have the same wallet on two different devices.
Hot & Cold Wallets

Separate the bitcoin you plan to spend frequently with from the bitcoin you plan to store long term for security and privacy.

In other words:

  • Keep the bitcoin you want to protect with the highest security in cold storage like on a hardware wallet.

  • Keep smaller amounts you intend to use for things like shopping on a wallet that will connect to the internet regularly such as a Lightning wallet.

If you purchase a hardware wallet, you don't really need to worry about this because the device is offline by design. However you still want to separate the spending funds from the rest within the hardware wallet for increased privacy. For example, do not send all your bitcoin to a single bitcoin address.

Address Re-Use is Bad Privacy

If you want to increase the privacy of yourself and others, avoid re-using bitcoin addresses to receive bitcoin. Generate a new bitcoin address to use once your bitcoin address receives bitcoin.

Wallet Backup for Individuals

Standard Bitcoin wallets and hardware wallets will generate a wallet backup called a seed phrase when you go through the initial setup process. A seed phrase is just 12 or 24 words generated by your wallet that you can use to restore the wallet.

Seed Phrase 101 Rules

A seed phrase should:

  • Always be generated offline for the best security
  • Never be shared
  • Never be entered into a internet connected device
  • Backed up in a way that resists water, fire and physical damage
  • Be stored in a private and secure location and possibly in two locations for redundancy
How to Generate Seed Phrase (Wallet Backup) Offline

Please do additional research to supplement the information on this page.

Any standard Bitcoin wallet or hardware wallet can be used to generated a seed phrase offline. This could be accomplished on a hardware wallet, desktop, laptop or mobile device. Doing so ensures the seed phrase is never exposed to the internet.


A) For all users, especially the non-technical:

If you aren't technical, it's recommended that you make your life simpler by investing in a hardware wallet. A hardware wallet is also a great option for any user in general.

A hardware wallet:

  • Generates a seed phrase offline for you by design
  • Stores bitcoin offline by design
  • Allows you to spend bitcoin more conveiently and without exposing the wallet to the internet or viruses.
  • Gives the best of both worlds (cold storage and a hot wallet)
  • Is small and portable
  • Is compatible with any computer or laptop

Instructions Using a Hardware Wallet

  1. A hardware wallet will generate a seed phrase for you while disconnected from the internet by default. During setup, it should also ask you to create a wallet PIN and some give an option to create a password - do both if offered.

  2. Now that you generated the seed phrase, wallet PIN and password (if offered), you can plan on how you want to securely back them up. See next tab "SECURING YOUR SEED PHRASE LONG TERM" for options.
    This may include recording it physically, secret hiding places, encrypted storage devices, hints, a home safe or a bank deposit box. Each option has pros and cons and you might find that using a combination of methods suits you best.

  3. Now execute the plan (or at least partially) before continuing so that if your device dies right now you have the info to restore your wallet

  4. When you're ready, proceed to send bitcoin to the wallet.

B) Option for the more technical users:

If you are technical, good with technology and confident in your abilities a hardware wallet is still a great option. But if you want to create your own cold storage or hot wallet, you have some options.


Creating Cold Storage Using Air Gapped PC / Laptop

The most difficult part about creating your own cold storage is learning how to spend from your cold storage without exposing it to the internet.

Here are the options to do that:

  • Use a Bitcoin wallet capable of doing Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions (PSBT). Electrum is one wallet that can do PSBTs and here is the documentation on how to set it up. This method requires 1 online computer and 1 offline computer.
  • Use Bitcoin Core PSBT method (Not available yet but coming soon in a future software update)

Creating a Hot Wallet

Creating a hot wallet is easier because you're using the wallet while connected to the internet so you can spend often, like for shopping.



Instructions Using a Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone

Requirements: A desktop/laptop/tablet/smartphone, internet access (WiFi or Ethernet)

  1. If you are creating a wallet for cold storage - ensure your selected device is a clean device. You can also perform this step for hot wallet devices. Make sure you set a login password for the chosen device.
    You can be sure a device on the software level is clean by either re-installing the operating system, use the "Reset this PC & Remove Everything" option for Windows 10, do a factory reset for Android/iOS mobile devices or if you know for sure the device is clean then continue.

  2. Connect your chosen device to the internet and download a wallet. Alternatively, if you don't want to connect the internet, download a wallet from another device and transfer the installer to your offline device using something like a USB storage device.

  3. Important Step: Disconnect the internet. If this is for cold storage never reconnect the internet on the device.
    If you're using wifi, disable WIFI and enable airplane mode. If you're using an ethernet cable, disconnect it physically and disable the ethernet adapter in the operating system settings.

  4. Install the wallet you downloaded.

  5. Open the wallet and go through the intital setup process and make sure you record important info such as the seed phrase and password(s). Most wallets generate a 12 or 24 word seed phrase for you to backup and will ask you to create a wallet password for unlocking the wallet.
    Some wallets allow you to add a password to the seed phrase itself so that if someone finds it, they'll need the seed phrase password in addition to the seed phrase to access your funds - please do this as well, if offered.

  6. Now that you have your seed phrase and password(s), plan on how you want to secure them. Execute the plan (or at least partially) before continuing so that if your device dies right now you have the info to restore your wallet. Do not record the wallet info on your device. See next tab "SECURING YOUR SEED PHRASE LONG TERM" for options on securely storing your seed phrase.
    This may include recording it physically, secret hiding places, encrypted storage devices, hints, a home safe or a bank deposit box. Each option has pros and cons and you might find that using a combination of methods suits you best.

  7. If you created a hot wallet for spending you can reconnect the internet on the device now. If it's a cold storage wallet, keep the internet off.

  8. When you're ready, proceed to send bitcoin to the wallet. You can even send a small test transaction first and check the bitcoin address on a Bitcoin block explorer to see if it received the bitcoin, if this is for a cold storage wallet. Send the rest once you are confident. Feel free to separate your bitcoin stash by sending to different bitcoin addresses generated by your wallet. For example, if you have 20 bitcoin, you could send 10 bitcoin to two different bitcoin addresses generated by your wallet. This can help increase your privacy.

  9. If you want to be extra secure, you can delete the wallet from your device and restore it with the seed phrase when access is needed. A step further would be to bring your device back to a clean device state (like from step 1). Only do this AFTER you have executed your plan for securely storing your backups.
Storage Options

When planning how to secure your backups you need to think of a few things:

  • What you want to store the backup on
  • Where you want to store your backups
  • How many copies of the backup you want to create
Things You Can Put Your Backup On
  • Physical material (Most Common)

You can write down your seed phrase on a durable, disaster resistant material with a permanent long lasting ink.

Alternatively, you can purchase durable metal products designed to store your bitcoin seed phrase for a long time.

If you need to access the bitcoin, simply enter your seed phrase into the wallet's restore feature (preferrably on an offline device)


  • Encrypted USBs / SD Cards / Drives: (More Advanced & More Maintenance)

You can store your seed phrase on multiple encrypted USBs / SD Cards / Storage drives .

Make sure you encrypt the storage device(s) with a difficult password and have multiple encrypted backups because electronics can break and digital data can get corrupted.

Don't forget the password to the encrypted devices and obviously never store the password around the encrypted devices. Only access the encrypted storage devices through a clean computer, preferrably an offline PC.

Note that some storage devices are designed to be more security oriented than others, for example some more expensive USB thumb drives use tamper-resistant epoxy for physical attacks and some can wipe themselves after X amount of failed login attempts (You need to be very cautious in your planning if you use these devices). See Best secure drives 2020: top USB drives to protect your data (Article)

Tips
  • Storage requirement for storing wallet backups and passwords is very minimal. Even a 1 GB storage device is enough to hold the data.

Caution
  • Just because something is encrypted doesn't mean it's completely safe from physical attacks, so keep them in a private and secure location.
  • This method requires extra maintenance and routine check-ups to ensure devices are in working order. You should add new encrypted storage devices to the pile periodically to reduce your chance of all devices dieing at the same time.
Places To Store Your Backups

You can store backups in secret hiding spots, hidden items, a personal safe, a bank vault, etc.

Additional Security

For additional security, put your backups in a waterproof bag and a fire resistant bag. You can put any electronic devices in a faraday bag. You can also put items in a tamper-evident bag. These can all be purchased on things like Amazon for cheap.

“Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.”
Eric Schmidt - Executive chairman of Google