Before we show you how to store your bitcoin securely on your computer, the first thing to know is that the level of security that a computer can offer when it comes to storing cryptocurrency is pretty good, but it’s not perfect. When storing a small value’s worth of cryptoassets (maybe $1000 dollars worth or less), your computer or your smartphone is a great option. If you are storing large value’s worth of crypto, we strongly recommend investing in a hardware wallet as a more fail safe method to store your cryptoassets. Obviously what constitutes a “large value” is relative to each person, but a good rule of thumb is if you own over one paychecks worth of cryptoassets it’s a good idea to have them stored on a hardware wallet. If you are uninterested in a hardware wallet at this time, this guide will show you how to set up the next best way to store your Bitcoin, a desktop wallet called Electrum.
More likely than not, if you are reading this, you already own some Bitcoin and you would like to securely store it off of the exchange where you purchased it. If this is not the case, but you are interested in owning Bitcoin, you can check out our tutorial on how to purchase Bitcoin here. With that said, if you already own Bitcoin, you are ready for this tutorial!
Step 1: Download and Install Electrum
The wallet we will be setting up today is called “Electrum”. Electrum is one of the most popular Bitcoin desktop wallets and the one we recommend. We recommend Electrum because of its long-standing good reputation within the Bitcoin Community and because of the fact that it is open source, meaning that anyone can verify that the code is clean.
To download electrum visit https://electrum.org/#download and select the download for your operating system. We are using a Mac, so we selected the “OSX” option. If you are on a system other than a Mac, this first step will vary slightly, but starting with step two, things should be pretty much the same on all systems.
Once you have downloaded the file, head to your downloads and double click the file that starts with “electrum”.
When you double click that file, it will install. Once it is done installing, a finder window will pop up with the electrum app in it, just like in the picture below. With that window open, at the top of your screen find file, then click the first option which is “New Finder Window” as is depicted below.
In your new finder window, find the “applications” folder in the column on the left and click it. Once you are in your applications folder, click and drag the “electrum” icon from the electrum folder to your applications folder. This will complete the install! We tried to take a screenshot of this drag and drop, but it didn’t work, so the following image depicts what it will look like once it has been dragged from the window on the right and into the one on the left.
Step 2: Configure the Electrum Wallet
Once the Electrum wallet is in your applications folder, you are ready to set it up! To begin this process, go ahead and double click the electrum icon within that folder. When you double click this icon, you will probably get a message from your computer like the one depicted below saying that Electrum is from an unidentified developer and that it cannot be opened, here you can just click “ok” and we will show you what to do.
Once you click ok, find “system preferences” which is probably in the dock on the bottom of your screen, open it, then select “security and privacy” which is circled in red in the image below.
Once you are in the “Security and Privacy” section of System Preferences you will see a little note that says “Electrum was blocked from being opened because it is not from an identified developer.” To the right of that note is a button that says “open anyway”, (circled in red below) you can click this button to open Electrum.
After clicking open anyway, there will be one final warning saying once you open it, it will always open on your computer, this is a good thing so you can go ahead and click “open”.
Upon opening Electrum, you will have to answer a few questions for the “install wizard” the first is about how you want to connect to a server, the default option is “auto connect” and that is the recommend way to connect. To set that option make sure “auto connect” is selected, then click next.
The next window is for configuring the name of your wallet file. You can leave this as is and click next.
Next, you will be asked what type of wallet you want to create. This selection depends on what kind of wallet you want of course, but if you don’t know “standard wallet” is probably what you want. That is the kind we will be demonstrating the set up for in this tutorial and is made for sending, receiving, and storing bitcoin. After choosing the type of wallet you want to create, you can click next.
Next, it will ask if you want to create a new seed or restore from an existing seed, if this is your first time setting up Electrum you will want to select “create a new seed” then click next.
Next, it will ask which type of seed you would like to use, “standard” is the recommended option here to ensure that your wallet is compatible with all the services you will want to use it with.
After selecting “standard” and clicking next, 12 words will appear on your screen. These 12 words are VERY important, they can be used to regenerate your wallet at any time. If your computer is ever lost, stolen, or broken, you will lose your Bitcoin with your computer if you don’t have these words written down. Because these words can be used to regenerate your wallet, it is also important that you keep them stored offline in the form of a physical copy. If you keep them on your computer or phone, a hacker could find these 12 words and steal all of your bitcoin. You can see our seed here, but there is no bitcoin in this wallet.
Once you have written you seed down, you can click next. Make sure it is written down. If you do not have the time to write it down, set up your wallet another time when you do. The next step is to type your seed in to confirm that you have it written down. Once you have typed all the words in, you can click next.
The last step is to create a strong password that you will remember. It is important to create one you will remember because if you forget your password you will lose access to your funds. It is not a bad idea to have this password written down with you seed words.
After creating your password and clicking next, you will have officially set up your Bitcoin wallet! Congratulations! Now you can keep your Bitcoin stored securely off of centralized servers!
To receive Bitcoin, simply go to the “receive” tab and copy your receiving address by clicking the blue icon circled in red below.
Now you can store your Bitcoin securely on your computer!We hope you enjoyed this tutorial! To learn how to buy Bitcoin to store in this wallet, check out our tutorial on it here. To learn how to store Ethereum or any ERC-20 token using your computer, you can check out our tutorial on it here, and to learn how to store any cryptoasset on your phone, you can check out our tutorial on it here.