If you're planning on getting into crypto, web3, and building decentralized apps (aka dApps), you'll need to set up your crypto wallet first. Indeed, wallets are an essential part of utilizing blockchain technology as crypto wallets act as the gateway to the new decentralized web and offer you easy access to a multitude of blockchain-based services.
In this tutorial, we'll first review together what exactly is a crypto wallet. Then, you'll learn how to create and set up your wallet using MetaMask and use it to connect to a blockchain-based app.
What is a crypto wallet?
When we hear the word "wallet," we immediately think of the physical wallet that holds our cash, IDs, and credit cards. However, unlike cash, digital currencies are not stored in a specific location and do not exist in a physical form.
So, unlike a regular wallet, a crypto wallet does not store any crypto. Instead, your cryptocurrencies live on a blockchain, a digital ledger of transactions.
Then, what's the purpose of a crypto wallet if it can't store my cryptocurrencies?
That's a good question! Even if your wallet doesn't actually store your crypto, it is responsible for storing your private and public keys which allows you to interact with the blockchain, monitor your balances, and send and receive cryptocurrencies.
Your private key proves your ownership of your crypto and allows you to make transactions. If you lose your private key, you lose access to your crypto. That's why it's essential to keep your private key private!
So, instead of thinking of a wallet in the traditional sense, where cash is actually inside of your wallet, think of a cryptocurrency wallet as the key to access your funds. Indeed, your cryptocurrencies are assigned to your private key on the blockchain and your wallet allows you to securely access them.
What is MetaMask?
While there are many different wallets, which come in many forms, from hardware wallets like Ledger (which looks like a USB stick) to mobile apps, MetaMask is by far the most popular one among crypto users.
MetaMask is a non-custodial crypto wallet that enables you to manage your crypto assets on multiple blockchains, such as Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, and more.
It comes as a mobile app and a web browser extension that you can install on Chrome, Brave, and Firefox browsers.
It is also categorized as a "hot wallet," meaning that the wallet is connected to the internet (in contrast to a "cold wallet," which is offline), giving you easy access to a multitude of blockchain-based applications (dApps).
Enough talking! Let's see how to set up your MetaMask crypto wallet.
Setting up your wallet
First, go to the MetaMask official website, and navigate to the download page.
From here, choose the corresponding extension for your browser, click Install MetaMask for..., and follow the steps to add the extension to your browser.
Once added, you should see the following welcome page.
Now, click Get Started to continue the setup process.
At this stage, MetaMask is asking you if you'd like to create a new wallet or import an existing one. Choose the second option by clicking Create a wallet.
Finally, for the last and probably the most critical step, copy and store the Secret Recovery Phrase MetaMask has generated for you in a safe place.
WARNING: Never disclose your secret recovery phrase! Anyone with this phrase can access and withdraw all your cryptocurrencies.
This phrase is composed of a series of 12 random words, which you can use to recover your MetaMask wallet. In other words, it is your backup in case you lose the laptop where you installed your MetaMask wallet, and you need to import it to a new device.
It's important to understand that nobody, not even the team at MetaMask, can help you recover your wallet if you lose your secret recovery phrase. So make sure to store it somewhere safe now!
If you are not sure how to do it, I recommend you to write this phrase on multiple pieces of paper and store each one of them in a different secure locations.
If you need an extra layer of security, you can even store your recovery phrase into a solid steel case or capsule designed to resist fire, water - and more.
Make sure to write down each word in the order presented on the screen. The order of the words is crucial as you won't be able to recover your MetaMask wallet if the words are in the wrong order – even if you entered all the right 12 words.
MetaMask will then prompt you to type in the 12-word sequence before you can move on.
Congratulations! Your MetaMask wallet is now ready to use.
An overview of your MetaMask wallet
If you've completed all the steps above, you should now be able to access your new MetaMask wallet. But before using it, there are a few things you need to familiarize yourself with. So let's review them together here.
Your MetaMask wallet is available from the extensions section of your browser, and should look like this:
This is the blockchain network you are connected to. By default, MetaMask supports connecting to six different Ethereum networks: Mainnet, four test networks (Goerli, Kovan, Rinkeby, Ropsten), and a Localhost network used by software developers in development.
Of course, you can add other networks to your MetaMask wallet depending on your use cases, such as the Polygon Mainet or the Binance Smart Chain Mainnet for instance.
This is your wallet address. You can safely share it with anyone to receive cryptocurrencies. Think of it as your bank account number as you'd have with a traditional banking application.
This indicator shows whether or not you are connected to the current website you are visiting. It should display "Not connected " by default unless you have explicitly connected MetaMask to the current website.
Finally, at the bottom of the app, you can find all your assets and balances and the history of your MetaMask activity. Be aware that not all tokens are displayed by default, so you need to import them yourself.
Connect to blockchain-based apps
It's time to use your new MetaMask wallet. To do so, you can try to connect it to any of your favorite blockchain-based apps. Or you can simply use the sign-in button below to connect your MetaMask wallet to AlterClass.
If you click on this button, your MetaMask wallet should open.
So, choose your Ethereum account to use for this connection, and click Next from your MetaMask wallet.
The following screen should present you with the permissions you're granting to the website you're trying to connect to.
To continue, click Connect.
Now you should be signed in and see your address in place of the previous sign-in button.
In this tutorial, we learned what a crypto wallet is all about and how to set up our own wallet using MetaMask, one of the most popular non-custodial wallets.
We also looked at how to connect our wallet to a decentralized application (dApp). You should now be all set to explore the world of crypto!
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And if you've got any questions, please ask them on Twitter!
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