MyEtherWallet Review and In-Depth User Guide
MyEtherWallet (MEW) is a browser tool for interacting with the Ethereum network. MEW allows users to perform a wide range of procedures including receiving, sending, and storing Ether (ETH), Ether Classic (ETC), and ERC-20 tokens. Originally released in 2015, MEW is open source, free, and in active development on Github.
MEW provides users with a lightweight method of communicating with the Ethereum blockchain. The benefits of MEW are that you don’t have to download or store the entire blockchain, all of your private information is generated and stored on your computer, and MEW can be used in combination with hardware wallets for added security.
This review of MyEtherWallet will cover:
MyEtherWallet’s main benefit is its ease of use. With MEW you can create a new wallet and start interacting with the Ethereum network within minutes. MEW runs in a web browser and uses very few resources on your computer.
As opposed to other wallet solutions, MEW does not require downloading blockchain data. Storing the entire blockchain requires over 100GB of disk space and can take weeks to download. According to some reports, consumer-grade hardware isn’t even capable of downloading and storing the entire Ethereum chain at this point.
The fact that MEW has a small footprint, is quick to start using, and gives the user so many tools has made it one of the most popular ways to store and use ETH and tokens.
MyEtherWallet’s primary objective is not design. The first impression is a busy page with a red warning at the top which doesn’t ever go away. There’s an overwhelming amount of links and drop down menus that may seem distracting at first.
However, I can assure you that after using the wallet a few times, you won’t notice these design shortcomings. Once you become more familiar with how the wallet works, you’ll realize that the priority of the developers was to build a product that works great — even if that means sacrificing some effort towards design.
The positive side of this is that your sensitive information doesn’t reside on web servers which become targets for hackers. On the other hand, if your computer is compromised your keys could be stolen. That is why it’s recommended to use a hardware wallet, like the Trezor or Ledger Nano S, in combination with MEW.
MyEtherWallet offers many features that you won’t find in other wallets. You can get an idea of how much this wallet can do by taking a look at the navigation bar.
A few of the most useful and powerful features are: swapping between Bitcoin (BTC) and ETH, creating and interacting with smart contracts, registering with the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), and selling or buying registered domains. These types of services usually require visiting an external website. Achieving all this within a light wallet is pretty rare.
1. Create a new wallet.
In a web browser, go to https://myetherwallet.com. You’ll have to click through about 10 pages of introductions, warnings, and best practices. It can be a little annoying, but the information provided is useful.
After the pop-ups, the first page you’re presented with is for creating your new wallet. Here you set a password and click the “Create New Wallet” button. Always keep a backup of your password stored in a secure place.
2. Backup your keystore file.
You will now be brought to the first backup of your wallet. This backup will be an encrypted keystore file. This file, in combination with your password, will unlock your wallet. If a thief gets this file they won’t be able to use it without knowing or guessing your password.
Click the “Download Keystore File (UTC / JSON)” button, then select the download location and filename.
When the download is finished you can click the “I understand. Continue.” button.
3. Backup your private key.
This step is the last of the standard backup procedures: saving your private key. This key is unencrypted and does not need a password to use. If you lose your keystore file and/or your password, this private key will still give you access to your funds. If a thief gets your private key they won’t need anything else to steal your funds.
Click the “Print Paper Wallet” button.
You’ll be brought to another tab where you will see what your printable private key looks like.
After printing you can click the “Save Your Address.” button.
4. Access your wallet.
Now that you have secured two backup types, it’s time to test that you can successfully unlock your wallet with them. The next page you are brought to will give you some options for unlocking your wallet. You may select “Keystore / JSON File” or “Private Key” since you have both.
If you choose to use the keystore file, you’ll need the file and your password. Once you have selected your keystore file and entered your password you can click the “Unlock” button.
If you choose to use your private key, you will not need a password. Once you have entered your private key you can click the “Unlock” button.
After successfully unlocking your wallet you will be able to scroll down to where you can see your address for receiving Ether and tokens. You can also check your balance and make additional backups here.
5. Sending Ether.
To send Ether to another address click on “Send Ether & Tokens” in the navigation bar. You’ll be asked to unlock your wallet again, you can use either your keystore file or private key.
Now you can enter the details of your transaction. You will need to enter the recipients address and the amount to send. “Gas Limit” is the transaction fee and you should leave it default.
Review the details and click the “Generate Transaction” button. You’ll be shown what the completed transaction looks like before it’s broadcast to the network. When you’re ready, click the “Send Transaction” button.
This will be your last chance to review the transaction details and be sure you want to broadcast it. Once a transaction is broadcast it is irreversible. When you are positive about the details you can click the “Yes, I am sure! Make transaction.” button.
At this point you’ll be brought back to the send page where you will see a pop-up explaining how to track your payment. Depending on network congestion, the verification time of your transaction can vary. Click on the links in the pop-up to find out details about your transaction status.
In the 3 years since its release, MyEtherWallet has become one of the most popular ways to use ETH, ETC, and tokens. You don’t have to download a ton of data and you can start using the wallet almost immediately. Although the interface can be a little cluttered at first, you will easily see past that once you start using it.
MEW has a very low barrier to entry because all you need is a web browser. As a matter of fact, you can even use it offline or as cold storage. The robust tool set, and the fact that it can be used in combination with hardware wallets makes MyEtherWallet an attractive choice for both newcomers and veterans alike.
I’m an information security enthusiast, coder, and writer that is especially interested in open source development, P2P networks, anonymous networks, and cryptography. I’ve been a Bitcoin supporter since 2013. I’m always looking for cutting edge privacy tech.