How to set up a Metamask wallet
Hold on, what even is a Metamask wallet?
MetaMask is the most popular cryptocurrency wallet software used to interact with the Ethereum blockchain. It allows users to access their Ethereum wallet through a browser extension or mobile app, which can then be used to interact with decentralized applications.
Having said that, there are many wallets and even more blockchains out there. And for every blockchain you need a different crypto wallet to navigate it.
Why are crypto wallets important?
Unlike a normal wallet, which can hold actual cash, crypto wallets technically don’t store your crypto. Your holdings live on the blockchain, but can only be accessed using a private key. Your keys prove your ownership of your digital money and allow you to make transactions. If you lose your private keys, you lose access to your money. That’s why it’s important to keep your hardware wallet safe, or use a trusted wallet provider.
How do you use a crypto wallet?
Crypto wallets range from simple-to-use apps to more complex security solutions. The main types of wallets you can choose from include:
Paper wallets: Keys are written on a physical medium like paper and stored in a safe place. This of course makes using your crypto harder, because as digital money it can only be used on the internet.
Hardware wallets: Keys are stored in a thumb-drive device that is kept in a safe place and only connected to a computer when you want to use your crypto. The idea is to try to balance security and convenience.
Online wallets: Keys are stored in an app or other software – look for one that is protected by two-step encryption. This makes sending, receiving, and using your crypto as easy as using any online bank account, payment system, or brokerage.
Each type has its tradeoffs. Paper and hardware wallets are harder for malicious users to access because they are stored offline, but they are limited in function and risk being lost or destroyed. Online wallets offered by a major exchange like Coinbase are the simplest way to get started in crypto and offer a balance of security and easy access. (Because your private info is online, your protection against hackers is only as good as your wallet provider’s security – so make sure you look for features like two-factor verification.)
How do I get it?
Go to MetaMask.io and select from Android or iOS for mobile application, or select Chrome for desktop. You can also go directly to the Chrome store, Google Play store, or Apple App Store and search for Metamask.
Setting it up
After the plugin is installed, navigate to the extension icon in the top right corner of your web browser and find the MetaMask option. If you are using a mobile device you just need to launch the Metamask application. Click the “Get Started” button and you’ll be taken to the next page and presented with two options.
- Import wallet: This is for users who already have an existing MetaMask wallet on a different device and would like to import it over to a new one.
- Create a wallet: This is for users who want to set up a brand new MetaMask wallet.
Select the “Create a Wallet” option, agree to a short disclaimer that appears and create a password when prompted. As with any password, it’s vitally important you physically write several copies of the password down on different pieces of paper. You should never create a digital copy of any password you create; this includes actions like taking a screenshot of it, sending it to yourself in an email or saving it as a note on your computer. Anything digital that’s stored on your computer is accessible to hackers – don’t make life easy for them.
You will need to enter your password each time you wish to access your MetaMask wallet.
Secret recovery phrase
A screen will then appear that outlines what a secret recovery phrase is, how you should copy it down (again, on paper not in digital form) and information on why you should NEVER share your secret recovery phrase with anyone.
In short, your secret recovery phrase comprises 12 random words. It’s there as a backup in case you lose the phone or laptop where your MetaMask wallet is downloaded and need to import it to a new device.
Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’ll be able to access your new MetaMask wallet. There are two main components you’ll need to familiarize yourself with so that you can begin using the software:
- Identifying your public address: This is the address you can freely share with people or platforms like exchanges in order to receive cryptocurrency into your wallet. Think of it as your home address that you share with people to receive inbound mail. It’s always advisable, however, to check to make sure any inbound tokens are compatible with MetaMask first before receiving them, otherwise, they might be lost forever.
- How to fund/buy and send: These are the core functions of MetaMask.