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 S or TREZOR.

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

Electrum

Electrum may be the most popular desktop Bitcoin wallet.

One reason for Electrum’s popularity is that it’s very easy to use and understand. On the other hand, power users can configured it to work with a number of advanced features (like TOR or cold storage).

So Electrum is a great choice for both new Bitcoin users or advanced users alike. It is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Bitcoin Armory

Bitcoin Armory is another old and tested Bitcoin wallet for all desktop platforms.

If you understand it well you can set it up for cold storage, which means your bitcoins will be stored securely offline and out of reach from hackers.

Ledger Live

While technically you need a hardware wallet to use Ledger on desktop, we have to mention it here.

Ledger’s desktop wallet is one of the best designed wallets on the market.

You can use the Ledger desktop app if you own either the Ledger Nano X or Ledger Nano S

Bitcoin Core

Bitcoin Core is a Bitcoin full node wallet. This means it downloaded the entire Bitcoin blockchain.

It is the most private Bitcoin wallet although it takes patience and quite some time to setup.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Do desktop wallets work with hardware wallets?

Yes, see next section.

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

You can, but this isn’t recommended.

Hardware wallets work with many different types of desktop wallets.

KeepKey, TREZOR, and Ledger Nano S all work with Electrum. TREZOR and the Ledger Nano S both work with Copay.

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

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.

Are desktop wallets free?

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

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.

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.

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.

What happened to Multibit?

Multibit shutdown and is no longer updated.

Electrum User Guide and Review

Electrum is a light weight Bitcoin wallet for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It was created in November 2011.

The main features of Electrum are support for hardware wallets TREZOR, Ledger Nano and HW1, secure cold storage using an offline computer, and decentralized verification using SPV.

Electrum Security

Electrum functions as a hot wallet or cold storage. For both wallet types, a 12 word seed is generated which allows you to backup and restore the entire wallet and its keys.

For cold storage, a seed is generated on a secure offline computer and written to a piece of paper. A master public key is created from the seed and imported into a separate Electrum install on your everyday computer. You can now view the wallet balance, accept payments, and create new addresses on a hot computer without the risk of funds being stolen. All transactions must be signed by the offline computer.

All Electrum private keys are encrypted and never leave your computer. Electrum wallets not using an offline computer should be treated as a hot wallet, as it’s still possible to have malware steal funds.

Although Electrum relies on third-party servers, the worst attack possible is the faking of transaction data. The servers have no way of accessing funds.

Electrum Privacy

Electrum is a lightweight Bitcoin client, and uses servers created by users to get transaction and balance information. A server has no way of knowing your actual identity, but does know your IP address, wallet addresses, and balance.

Tor can be used to prevent the server from knowing your IP address, but cannot prevent the server from knowing that a list of addresses belong to one entity.

Some servers claim to not log or store information, but it is impossible to know for sure without setting up your own Electrum server.

As an HD wallet, Electrum generates a new address for every transaction and does not re-use addresses. Using a new address for each transaction helps prevent spying on your payments and funds.

Electrum received a score of 46 out of 100 from the Open Bitcoin Privacy Project’s Spring 2015 report.