The art of choosing the right digital wallet can be really tricky today. The market seems saturated with hundreds of crypto storage options, making it impossible for new players to come to a sound decision. Yet, we must start from somewhere.
First, you should know what type of cryptocurrency will dominate your portfolio. For example, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum-tailored (ETH) wallets can differ to a great extent. While Bitcoin wallets focus on delivering secure vaults for storing coins in the long haul, Ethereum-based wallets gain a competitive edge by launching browser-like applications that are dynamic and multifunctional.
This leads us to the second important factor to consider — your purpose. A few years ago, any highly-safe multicurrency wallet would be just fine for your ETH coins. Traders either used Ether as a speculative instrument on trading platforms or invested in new ERC-20 projects with hopes of overnight fortune.
In the meantime, Ethereum opened new perspectives with the ability to build decentralized apps (dApps) on its blockchain. Hence, the top picks for Ethereum wallets are those that can allow easy access to this ecosystem — and that’s where MetaMask excels.
What Is MetaMask?
The DeFi world isn’t as obscure as it appears. However, it’s a totally different concept of virtual interaction from anything we’ve already seen. That’s why new users and traditional traders feel insecure about entering the DeFi field.
MetaMask contributed a great deal in demystifying the products of Ethereum. The wallet appeared on the scene in 2016, just in time to get ready to serve the growing DeFi community. It was created by Aaron Davis and Dan Finley as a beginner-friendly software solution in the form of a browser plugin and mobile app for storing Ethereum, but it grew into something more.
Apart from the main function to store ETH and other supported blockchains, today, you can use MetaMask for:
- Making sleek transactions of your stored funds to other crypto wallets;
- Connecting to Ethereum dApps, where users can spend their tokens or earn more through staking, gaming, or exchanging NFTs (ERC-721 tokens);
- Trading on trending decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like UniSwap, SushiSwap, or Balancer;
- Getting access to DeFi apps such as PoolTogether and Compound.
This multifunctional combo, combined with the intuitive interface and easy setup, has made MetaMask an essential tool in the Ethereum community. On average, the wallet has around 21 million active users per month, and these are its more distinguishing traits:
The wallet supports Ether and the whole range of ERC20 and other Ethereum-compatible tokens, just like the popular NFT collectibles. Also, you can store and manage tokens built on the following blockchains such as Polygon, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Avalanche, and a few other experimental and small chains.
Points of Access
Primarily, MetaMask is a browser extension available on Chrome and Firefox through almost all operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. You can also use a mobile version of MetaMask by downloading their super-compact app on any Android and iOS device.
This classifies MetaMask as a hot software wallet, which isn’t the most desirable setting in security terms since your wallet is directly embedded into your search engine for daily use or mobile phone. However, unlike other web wallets, MetaMask isn’t custodial by nature. This means that your private keys — the secret code for entering your funds — are safely stored in your device, not on the wallet servers.
You can combine the MetaMask interface and functionality with the most popular hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor for added security of your keys, which will be stored in the hardware device outside your busy computer or mobile.
Now, we’ll go through the process of setting up MetaMask with a focus on adding new tokens where you can best see other important features of the wallet’s feature set.
How to Set Up MetaMask
In this tutorial, we’ll use the MetaMask extension in Chrome. The mobile app setup doesn’t differ much from the browser-based package, but you’ll need to download the MetaMask app first for a full on-the-go experience:
- Open a new Chrome window and navigate or browse for the extension.
- Click Add to Chrome and install the plugin.
- Select the extension icon on your top right to open the Metamask interface.
- After accepting the Terms and Conditions, you’ll need to create and confirm a password to create your MetaMask account.
- At this point, the wallet will give you the seed or recovery key. It’s a random 12-word phrase that will be the only method for restoring your account in case you forget the password or damage your device. The MetaMask interface will remind you to keep it in a safe location.
- After storing your seed phrase, select I’VE COPIED IT SOMEWHERE SAFE, which will get you to the interface dashboard.
Now we’re all set to top up our MetaMask wallet.
How to Add Tokens to MetaMask
MetaMask has presented a robust system for listing the existing tokens allowing users to add desired tokens without effort:
- Go to your MetaMask account and select the Account icon. On the Account page, you’ll see two separate tabs. Select the one that reads Assets.
- While on the Assets section, go to the bottom page and click the Add Token button.
- The Add Token token option will lead you to a search bar where you can browse for the token on your wish list.
- Find the token of your choice and click Next. Note that you can choose multiple tokens at the same time, which can be a super-convenient and time-saving feature.
- Finally, select Add Tokens and get your selected token/s to your MetaMask wallet.
After having your tokens brought to your wallet, you can go a step further and directly swap them with other available ETH or ERC20 tokens. To manage your funds, go back to the Assets tab and select the token. You’ll see that there is both the Swap and Send option.
How to Add Custom Tokens to MetaMask
In case you can’t find your desired token in the search bar, MetaMask allows you to insert a custom token — certainly if it belongs to the category of supported tokens/blockchains. Just like adding existing coins to your asset list, you’ll need to navigate to the Add Token button and find the Custom Token tab.
In the Custom Token tab, you’ll see an empty field where you need to manually insert an address:
- When you find the address of the desired token, copy/paste it into the field (under Token Contract Address). The address is actually the destination point of your token’s contact. For the most part, the token symbol and token decimal autofill so you can easily detect the token address. If they don’t, you can rely on a block explorer to do this job for you. For instance, you can visit a reliable block explorer like Etherscan.io or Bscscan, narrow down the token, and look for its address.
- Don’t get confused if you see there is more than one address on Etherscan. Different addresses are associated with different wallets. So, browse until you run into MetaMask, copy the compatible address and return to the MetaMask interface.
- Insert the new address, and then add the token as instructed on-screen. At this point, you are well prepared to enter the custom address under the empty field in the Custom Token section. After successfully completing this stage, you can use that crypto address and receive the added tokens.
A Few Words Before You Go…
The MetaMask wallet was designed to serve as a product for a hassle-free experience on the Ethereum blockchain. And it’s been doing a great job so far. There is an array of state-of-the-art Ether-based wallets that appeared before and after MetaMask, but none of them served a better role as a bridge to the DeFi world. That’s why it’s always a good idea to include MetaMask in your crypto starter pack.