Desktop Bitcoin Wallets

desktop wallets bitcoin

Desktop wallets are a great option for anyone sending frequent Bitcoin payments from their computer.

In this post we will cover some of the best bitcoin desktop wallets and help you decide which is right for you.

Heads Up!

Large amounts of bitcoins should not be stored on your computer! If you want the most secure Bitcoin wallet then you will need to use a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano X or TREZOR T.

You should always do research before downloading or installing any Bitcoin wallet.

SamouraiWasabi Get Wasabi

Wasabi wallet is a desktop (as well as mobile) wallet designed around maintaining privacy through advanced features such as coinjoin and tor routing.

Supported Platforms: MacOS, Linux, Windows

Pros
  • Open Source
  • Full Segwit suport
  • Coinjoin functionality
  • All traffic routed throug Tor
  • Connect to full node
  • Works with Ledger, Trezor and Coldcard hardware wallets
Cons
  • Advanced features make this not a beginner wallet

Blockstream GreenBlockstream Green Get BS Green Read Review

Blockstream Green is one of the most unqique and secure desktop wallets on the market. It uses a 2-of-2 style backup so if you ever lose your backup, you can use any two factor authentication to recover it. It's also super simple to set up and requires no registration other than an email address. You can even store your Liquid assets on Blockstream green now.

Supported Platforms: MacOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, Android, F-droid

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Excellent fee estimation
  • Two-Factor multi-sig
  • Multilingual
  • Great support
Cons
  • Some features are advanced for beginners
  • Using two-factor recovery can be confusing
  • Only Android version works with hardware wallets right now

Blockstream GreenLedger Live Get Ledger Live Read Review

Ledger Live is a little bit different than all the other desktop wallets on this list. That's because you actually need a Ledger hardware wallet for it to work. This makes it by far the most secure desktop wallet on this list, but it also means that using it isn't exactly 'free'.

Supported Platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux

Pros
  • Most secure
  • Great UI
  • Easy to use
  • All crypto in one dashboard
  • Compatible with Ledger Hardware Wallets
Cons
  • Must buy a Ledger hardware wallet to use
  • Confirming transactions can be confusing for new users


ArmoryBitcoin Armory Get Armory

is another old and tested Bitcoin wallet for all desktop platforms. It is definitely more for an advanced users, so beginners might find using the wallet a little confusing. However, the advanced features and security options make it a great choice for the more experienced Bitcoiner.

Supported Platforms: MacOS, Ubuntu, Windows, Rasberry Pie

Pros
  • Old and trusted
  • Advanced fee settings
  • No signup required
  • Open Source
  • Works with Ledger and Trezor
Cons
  • Ugly user interface
  • Advanced features can be difficult for beginners.

ElectrumElectrum Get Electrum Read Review

Electrum is one of the oldest and most trusted Bitcoin wallets on the market. It also sports advanced features for privacy and fee settings.

Supported Platforms: MacOS, Linux, Windows, Android, Python


WARNING

There are a lot of fake versions of Electrum out there. Make sure you verify you are installing the real Electrum by verifying electrums GPG signatures. See guides for how to do that on Windows and MacOS.


Pros
  • Connect to full node
  • Compatible with most hardware wallets
  • One of the oldest Bitcoin wallets
  • Works with Ledger, Trezor, Keepkey, Bitbox, Coldcard
  • Open Source
Cons
  • More advanced wallet not ideal for beginners
  • iOS version widely considered inferior to Android version
  • Traditional stock dashboard may distract from crypto-only holders

Jaxx LibertyBitcoin Core Get BTC Core

Bitcoin Core is a Bitcoin full node wallet, meaning it downloads the entire Bitcoin blockchain. It is the most private Bitcoin wallet although it takes patience and quite some time to setup. You also need a reliable internet connection, as well plenty of badwidth and hard drive space.

Supported Platforms: MacOS, Linux, Windows

Pros
  • Full node required
  • Great for Bitcoiners with no other coins
  • Compatible with most hardware wallets
  • Developed by some of the best devs in the crypto
  • Works with Ledger, Trezor, Keepkey, Bitbox, Coldcard
Cons
  • Bitcoin Only - no altocins supported
  • Basic wallet with limited features

-


How to Add Funds to Your Desktop Wallet

bitcoin wallet icon

Now that you have chosen a wallet, let's transfer some funds into it.

In this brief walkthrough, we will show you how to add funds to your desktop wallet


For you to add funds to your desktop wallet, you will need to buy some cryptocurrency from an exchange and transfer it to your desktop wallet. Most Desktop wallets do not have exchanges native to it.

You’ll need to choose an exchange that services your country and/or state. The best place to do that is to go to our exchange finder or you can see the most popular exchanges below:

  • Popular Exchanges
  • Coinbase
    • High liquidity and buying limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
  • Coinmama
    • Works in almost all countries
    • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
    • Reliable and trusted broker

After you have bought your crypto, you’ll need to send it to your wallet. To do that, do the following:

1. Open your wallet and find an option to “receive”


2. Copy the address given


3. On your exchange where you bought your coins, select the “send” option.

coinbase home page


4. There should be a field to input your wallet address copied in step 2. Paste it there.

coinbase input address


5. Confirm you want to send your coins.

After that, you should receive a confirmation with a transaction ID of some kind. Here is what that might look like.

transaction id
What a transcation ID looks like (the number starting with "804")


Hardware Wallets: A Great Addition to Desktop Wallets

ledger nano s green

With funds in your desktop wallet, its time to take your security to the next level.

The best way to do that is with a hardware wallet like a ledger or trezor


Desktop wallets have the advantage of being free and easy to use. However, using a desktop wallet also poses many dangers to your coins.

Making sure your coins are not stolen through malware or ransomware is difficult to avoid on a desktop wallet.

malware ghost on motherboard
Malware and Ransomware on your computer can result in stolen coins

This is where hardware wallets come in. Hardware wallets are never connected to the internet. They store the private keys and sign transactions you send to them. You verify the transaction on the screen of the hardware wallet, and hand off the signed transaction back to interface on your desktop or mobile phone.

ledger and trezor hardware wallets
Some of our favorite hardware wallets.

Hardware wallets are a great way, then, to keep your coins safe if you want to use a desktop wallet. Instead of housing the coins on the desktop computer, you store them on the hardware wallet and the desktop just acts as your UI to control the hardware wallet.

You can learn more about each of the hardware wallets we recommend below:

COMPARISON

ledger nano x folded

Ledger Nano X

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2019
  • PRICE: $119
ledger nano s illustration

Ledger Nano S

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2016
  • PRICE: $59
trezor model T

TREZOR T

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2018
  • PRICE: $159
Trezor One

TREZOR One

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2013
  • PRICE: $59


Security Tips for Desktop Wallets

shield with checkmark icon

Now that we've got our desktop wallet set up with a hardware wallet, let's explore a few additional points on security.

PINs, VPNs, and Steel wallets are great additions to our security stack.



Always set up a PIN to protect your funds

Make sure your desktop wallet is protected by a 4 to 6 digit PIN number. Much your like bank account, most wallets have a PIN password that is the absolutel minimum when it comes to protecting funds you keep on your wallet. This prevents someone who has your phone from accessing the coins and sending them to another wallet that they own.

hardware wallet pin number
Setting up a PIN is a minimal requirement when it comes to mobile wallet security.

A PIN is not very strong security, but its good enough to prevent most people who have temporary access to your unlocked phone from taking your money.

Store your recovery phrase on something that is water and fire proof

All the desktop wallets on this list support BIP39 seed words, otherwise known as ‘recovery phrases’. If your phone is lost, destroyed, or stolen, you can use this phrase to recover your funds to a new device.

However, most people write down these words on a piece of paper. When their home catches fire or is flooded, they lose the device and the backup to the elements. You should therefore consider a steel backup device like the PrivacyPros Billfodl or Cryptosteel.

billfodl in fire
The Billfodl protects your funds from fire and flood.

DO NOT store a lot of coins on your desktop wallet

We’ve mentioned this before, but its worth repeating: you should treat your desktop wallet the same way you treat your real world wallet or billfold. You wouldnt carry every dollar you own in your pocket. You should also not hold all your coins on your desktop wallet. You need to store them on a hardware wallet.

Use a VPN when transacting on an desktop wallet

man holding mobile phone with vpn running
A VPN shields your IP address from leaking.

When making Bitcoin transactions on your desktop wallet, it is a good practice to use a VPN. This prevents your ISP or hackers listening in on your connection from tying your IP address (and therefore your personal identity) to your Bitcoin transactions. It’s a good privacy practice that is cheap and easy to implement.

  • VPN
  • NordVPN
    • Special support for Malaysia, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa
    • SEPA & credit card supported
    • Trusted exchange
  • Surfshark
    • Users claim fast speed from wide range of servers all around the world
    • Compatible with nearly any OS
  • ExpressVPN
    • Allows for Netflix
    • Users claim fast speed
    • Has apps for nearly any platform


Frequently Asked Questions

question and answer icon

Below are some of our most asked questions by readers.

If you're wondering about a topic on this page, odds are we have the answer here.


desktop icon

When should I use a desktop Bitcoin wallet?

If you’re on your computer a lot and don’t need super secure storage, a desktop wallet is a good choice.

hardware wallet icon

Do desktop wallets work with hardware wallets?

Yes, many desktop wallets allow the user to utilize a hardware wallet as the signer of transactions. This means that the private key is not help on the computer the desktop wallet is isntalled on.

Instead, the private key is held on a hardware wallet, and the ddesktop wallet is used as an interface for the hardware wallet. The desktop wallets sends transaction data to the hardware wallet to sign off on. If you’ve ever used Ledger Live, this is essentially how it works as well.


ledger live on a laptop
Ledger's Desktop wallet manager application, Ledger Live

safe icon

Can I store large amounts of bitcoins in a desktop wallet?

You can, but this isn’t recommended.

If you want to use a desktop wallet but need to store large amounts of Bitcoin, its best to utilize a hardware wallet to sign transactions for the desktop wallet (as mentioned above).

KeepKey, TREZOR, and Ledger Nano X all work with Electrum. TREZOR One and Model T and the Ledger Nano S and X all work with Copay.

copay app settings
The copay app settings for adding a hardware wallet for multisig

Setup is very easy and you can have your hardware wallet securely signing transactions via your desktop wallet in just a few minutes.


desktop announcement

What’s the difference between a desktop wallet and a web wallet?

Web wallets are more like accounts. A web wallet makes you set a passwords which it uses to encrypt your wallet on the web wallet server.

Desktop wallets are actual apps that are installed on your computer.


free icon

Are desktop wallets free?

Yes, all desktop wallets are free. Hardware wallets are the only type of wallet that costs money.


thief icon

If someone has access to my computer can they access my bitcoins?

It depends. Many desktop wallets encrypt your private keys and request a password to decrypt it every time you open the wallet. This means that you need to enter a password in order to send bitcoins from most desktop wallets.


backup icon

How do I backup my desktop wallet?

Most wallets generate a seed on setup. You write this seed down on a piece of paper and it can be used to restore your wallet if you lose your computer of have it stolen.


more than one desktop wallet

Can I use more than one desktop wallet at a time?

Yes, of course. We suggest trying many different desktop wallets and then deciding which one has the features you need.


aqua wallet logo

What is the difference between Blockstream Green and Aqua?

While both of these Bitcoin and Liquid wallets are made by Blockstream, only Blockstream Green is available for desktop. Aqua is only available as a mobile wallet. The other difference is that Blockstream green uses a 2-of-2 multisig to protect your coins from hackers. Aqua is a single signature wallet, meaning anyone with access to your phone (either physcially or remotely) could steal your coins. In exchange for the increased risk, the wallet is easier to use.

Aqua is new, and if you have an iOS device, it can be a great addition to Blockstream Green Desktop. Take a closer look at it its features and look in the video below: