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Ethereum wallets are applications that let you interact with your Ethereum account. Think of it like an internet banking app – without the bank. Your wallet lets you read your balance, send transactions and connect to applications.
You need a wallet to send funds and manage your ETH. More on ETH
Your wallet is only a tool for managing your Ethereum account. That means you can swap wallet providers at any time. Many wallets also let you manage several Ethereum accounts from one application.
That's because wallets don't have custody of your funds, you do. They're just a tool for managing what's really yours.
Your wallet shows your balances, transaction history and gives you a way to send/receive funds. Some wallets may offer more.
Your wallet is your window into your Ethereum account – your balance, transaction history and more. But you can swap wallet providers at any time.
Your wallet lets you connect to any decentralized application using your Ethereum account. It's like a login you can use across many dapps.
It's worth understanding the differences between some key terms.
An Ethereum account is an entity that can send transactions and has a balance.
An Ethereum account has an Ethereum address, like an inbox has an email address. You can use this to send funds to an account.
A wallet is a product that lets you manage your Ethereum account. It allows you to view your account balance, send transactions, and more.
Most wallet products will let you generate an Ethereum account. So you don't need one before you download a wallet.
There are a few ways to interface and interact with your account:
Physical hardware wallets are devices that let you keep your crypto offline – very secure
Mobile applications that make your funds accessible from anywhere
Browser wallets are web applications that let you interact with your account directly in the browser
Browser extension wallets are extensions you download that let you interact with your account and applications through the browser
Desktop applications if you prefer to manage your funds via macOS, Windows or Linux
Take responsibility for your own funds
Centralized exchanges will link your wallet to a username and password that you can recover in a traditional way. Just remember you’re trusting that exchange with custody over your funds. If that company is attacked or folds, your funds are at risk.
Write down your seed phrase
Wallets will often give you a seed phrase that you must write down somewhere safe. This is the only way you’ll be able to recover your wallet.
Here's an example:
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Don’t store it on a computer. Write it down and keep it safe.
Bookmark your wallet
If you use a web wallet, bookmark the site to protect yourself against phishing scams.
Triple check everything
Remember transactions can’t be reversed and wallets can’t be easily recovered so take precautions and always be careful.