nce you’re ready to get started with Monero, the first thing to do is get a wallet. Similar to wallets in the real world, you need a digital wallet to store your digital Monero. And like physical cash, there are a few different options for how Monero can be stored.
You may keep a small amount of Monero in a web wallet that is easy to access, like having money in your back pocket. You might also keep the bulk of your Monero in a wallet on your home computer that is more secure, like stashing money in a safe.
Sending and receiving Monero
Like a bank account, every Monero wallet has a balance (eg: 43.5). What’s interesting about Monero is the way that funds are added to and subtracted from that balance. Your wallet’s address is how you to receive funds from other people. It looks like a long string of 95 numbers and letters. Here’s a real Monero address:
So if Gus wants to send me 5 Monero for beer, I would just give him that address. He would open his digital wallet and send the address 5 Monero. Done. Just like regular money, you spend digital money by moving it from your wallet to someone else’s.
If an address allows us to receive Monero, a wallet’s mnemonic seed is how we have the ability to spend our Monero. It’s called a mnemonic seed because the words are easy to write down (mnemonic) and with it you can restore (seed) your entire account. Here’s the mnemonic seed for the above address:
joking pencil rogue citadel seismic fishing kernels muffin answers grunt novelty sushi duckling woken giddy ticket ardent trendy hijack ailments awkward five corrode duties corrode
So if I want to confirm that Gus paid me Monero for the beer, I would open a wallet that has my mnemonic seed. Doing so would show to me that, yes, +5 Monero had just been added to my account. Thanks Gus.
As long as you don’t share your mnemonic seed with anybody else then you are the only person with access to your wallet, so keep it safe and private, like a password. Write it on a few pieces of paper and store them in a few different secure locations. If you lose access to your wallet and lose your mnemonic seed, the funds in the wallet are lost.
Sound confusing? Things become a whole lot easier to understand once you’ve tried it yourself, which is the point of this article. First, you’ll need to create a wallet.
Two wallet options: easy vs. secure
Currently there are two different ways to get a Monero wallet:
- Creating a web wallet at MyMonero.com
- Downloading the official wallet software
Almost everybody starts with the web wallet at MyMonero.com. Not only does it do all the basics of using digital money: getting an address, checking your wallet’s balance, and sending money, but it’s also really simple and easy to use.
After playing around with the web wallet, you may decide to become more involved with Monero, which means downloading the official Monero-Wallet-CLI software. This software is a much more secure way to store your digital cash, but it’s slightly more complicated to use. Basically the main difference between the two wallets is ease and security. The MyMonero web wallet is really easy to use; the official wallet is more secure.
MyMonero.com vs. Monero-Wallet-CLI
MyMonero.com is accessed by a simple web browser, which is really convenient. If you want to send or receive some funds, you open up Google Chrome (or your browser of choice) and click a few buttons. Really really easy.
However, using a browser opens your wallet up to a whole bunch of unnecessary security risks. For example, most browsers allow extensions to be installed, which is basically third-party code that can be (and often is) used maliciously to spy on users. Not secure. Furthermore, the MyMonero.com server has a key that let’s them “see” the funds you receive. Not private.
In contrast, the official Monero-Wallet-CLI software is very secure. The entire thing runs from your computer, connecting directly to the Monero network without a third-party. You don’t need to trust a browser or a website. Nobody sees your transactions except for yourself.
But as you can see, the drawback is that the official wallet is currently text-based. It doesn’t have graphics and buttons (a GUI) like MyMonero, so you have to type commands to send and receive funds. And the official wallet software is also much slower to use. It needs to download the Monero blockchain to operate, which can take 15GB or more of space on your hard drive, and syncing the blockchain every time you use it can take a bit of time.
How I got started with Monero
- I created a MyMonero.com web wallet and moved $5 of test money into it.
- Playing with the web wallet helped me to become more comfortable with this digital currency. I soon realized that Monero is awesome.
- I installed the official software to my computer, created a second wallet, and sent a larger amount of Monero to that.
Currently today, I have two Monero wallets:
- A wallet at MyMonero.com where I keep money for spending and tips
- A wallet through the official software that keeps a larger balance in storage
With this setup, I can easily tip small amounts to people in the Monero community, while also keeping a larger amount more secure and difficult to spend.
Let’s see how each wallet works.
How to create a MyMonero.com wallet
Creating an account at MyMonero is ridiculously easy. Here’s a short video:
Basically, you’re going to go to MyMonero.com and click the big blue button. Your account will instantly be created, and your mnemonic seed (here called ‘Your Private Login Key’) will be displayed on the screen. Write this key down. Store it in a safe place and don’t share it with others. You will use this key to log into MyMonero from this point forward.
Once you confirm your account key, you will be taken to the main account screen:
Here you can see your shiny new Monero address, which is the long string of letters and numbers in the middle of the page. Whenever you need to receive funds, you can click the icon on its far right side to copy this to your clipboard, and then paste it into emails or whatever. If you want to send funds, you can click the dark blue Send button.
Now just paste in an address, type in an amount to send, and press the big button.
Congratulations. With your own address and wallet, you’ve officially dipped your toe into the Monero waters. Feel free to stop reading here and spend some time checking things out. There’s no need to rush things.
How to install the official Monero wallet
Let’s say you’ve already done all this and you want to get more involved, perhaps buying $100 of Monero. In this situation, you’ll probably want to get the official Monero wallet software set up on a home computer.
Here’s another short video:
The first step is to visit GetMonero.org/downloads/ and choose the correct download for your operating system:
Once you’ve downloaded the compressed file, you’ll need to uncompress it into a folder. This folder will have a few different programs related to Monero, which can be confusing for beginners. The truth is, most people only use two programs:
Begin by running the first program, MoneroD. This program will connect your computer to the Monero network and download the blockchain, the encrypted record of all transactions that have ever happened in Monero. Downloading this blockchain can take 15+ hours, especially if your computer or internet connection is slow. Additionally it will require at least 15-20 GB of hard drive space, so make sure you have that to spare.
Eventually the green words SYNCHRONIZED OK will appear on the screen. This means your computer is synced and you are ready to use your wallet.
Run the Monero-Wallet-CLI program to create a wallet. The program will ask you to give a wallet name and password. It will then display your new 95-character address, as well as give you a mnemonic seed.
Again, you need to write this down and keep it in a safe place. Do not lose it. Even if your computer gets destroyed in a typhoon, you can restore your wallet using these 25 words.
CLI Wallet for dummies
In the wallet console, there’s a few basic commands to know:
The first command to know is
refresh. This command will scan the blockchain with your wallet and give you your current Monero balance.
The second command to know is
transfer <address> <amount>. This will send whatever <amount> of Monero you want to whatever <address> you specify. Simple. So if your wallet had 0.4 Monero in it like the picture above, using the command
transfer 43Boc7TQ6vbY7LsatiAXnHcDQKTMbpS9pfLzZ3MoQGBV2neN2JQ8HtKULdNHb9VMEXBFqsf9w5js8fT93d7uHnhgEhmyvGM 0.1
would send 0.1 Monero of your balance to the address in orange. Example:
There are additional options for the transfer command that you can see by typing the
The last commands to know are
exit. This will save your wallet and exit the wallet program. Use
exit in MoneroD to quit that program as well.
Sit back for a moment. Feel that? You’ve just waded hip deep into XMR, compadre. Breathe deep and enjoy the moment. There’s miles left to explore and discuss.
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