Use a WIF private key in Electron Cash

2018-12-03T01:40:32.000Z Honest Cash

Please note: this article refers only to Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and not Bitcoin (BTC) or any other derivative of the original Bitcoin.

Warning: you must be very careful with private keys and seed phrases.

Contents

Get the WIF private key from your wallet

Some online services use a single private key and a single address. Those services often use a Wallet-Import-Format (WIF) private key. You can usually get it in the setup or options section of your app or service.

- A “compressed” WIF private key will be 52 characters, starting with L like this:

L53fCHmQhbNp1B4JipfBtfeHZH7cAibzG9oK19XfiFzxHgAkz6JK_do_not_put_money_in_this_key

- A standard WIF key will be 51 characters starting with 5 like this:

5Kb8kLf9zgWQnogidDA76MzPL6TsZZY36hWXMssSzNydYXYB9KF_do_not_put_money_in_this_key

Warning: this example has been public for a long time. You must keep your WIF keys private.

Yes — the compressed key is longer. It is just an unfortunate naming convention. You can read more about WIF and general private keys here.

Start Electron Cash

File → New/Restore

Note: This happens automatically if you have not created a wallet yet.

  • Name your wallet so you know what original wallet it is controlling.

  • Next

Name your wallet

Type of wallet

  • Import Bitcoin Cash address or private keys

  • Next

WIF private key

  • Enter your private key.

  • Next

Password

  • Enter a strong password.

  • Encrypt wallet file ←Make sure this is checked

  • Next

I recommend that you put a strong password and use the encrypt option. Then even if someone gets a copy of your wallet file from your computer, they cannot use it without the password.

Managing unique and strong passwords is a skill of its own. I recommend investing time to setup a password manager and I recommend using it consistently for all accounts.

You think I memorized that? Get yourself a password manager for great good.

Check for transactions

If you used your real WIF private key and you have made any transactions before, you should start to see transactions appear. Now you are ready to use your Bitcoin even if you lose access to the original wallet or service.

If you should have transactions but do not see any, something has gone wrong. With Electron Cash, you currently need to start this procedure over from the beginning to change any details.

Where’s my money?!

Next --> Case 3: Use a hardware wallet

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