If you are interested in the Ethereum ecosystem, need An application like MetaMask. Far more than a simple wallet, it allows you to interact with websites that integrate Ethereum.
MetaMask allows you to connect to decentralized applications from your browser (or via a mobile application). You can trade without an intermediary and play games with completely transparent code (knowing that you will not be scammed in the process).
Check out the guide below to get started!
With Ethereum came the promise of a distributed Internet - the long-awaited Web 3.0. A level playing field characterized by a lack of central weaknesses, real ownership of data, and decentralized applications (or DApps).
Such an infrastructure is steadily coming along with an industry-wide focus on decentralized finance (DeFi) and interoperability protocols aimed at bridging the various blockchains. It is now possible to trustlessly exchange tokens and cryptocurrencies, take out crypto-secured loans and even use Bitcoin on Ethereum.
For many Ethereum enthusiasts, MetaMask is the ideal wallet. Unlike your normal smartphone or desktop software, it comes as a browser extension so that users can interact directly with supporting websites. In this article, we'll explain how MetaMask works, and we'll help you get started.
What is MetaMask?
MetaMask is an open source Ethereum wallet that supports all types of Ethereum-based tokens (e.g. tokens according to the ERC-20 standard or non-fungible tokens). In addition, you can receive these from others or buy / trade them with the built-in Coinbase and ShapeShift integrations.
What makes MetaMask so interesting is the fact that it can be linked to websites. With other wallets, you would have to copy and paste payment addresses or scan a QR code on a separate device. With the MetaMask extension, the website simply pings your wallet and you will be prompted to accept or decline the transaction.
MetaMask can serve as a regular crypto wallet, but its real strength lies in its seamless connection to smart contracts and decentralized applications. Now let's see how to set up MetaMask.
The MetaMask wallet can be installed on Google Chrome, Firefox or the Brave Browser. It's also available for iOS and Android, but we won't go into that in depth. We'll be using Firefox in this tutorial, but your steps will be more or less the same regardless of the platform you're using.
Visit the official download page on metamask.io. Select your browser that will take you to the Chrome webshop or the Firefox add-on page. Click the button to add the extension to your platform. You may need to give it some permissions before it can be used. Make sure you are happy with your browser's access level - if so, we're good to go.
Initialize the wallet
You should now see a welcome message.
If you're anything like us, chances are you'll be spending a lot of time making this guy dizzy with your cursor.
When you're done pestering the fox on the welcome page, click Get started. Here you will be asked to either import a seed phrase or create a new one. click on Create a wallet. The next page asks if you would like to submit anonymized data to help the developers improve the app. Select the option you prefer.
Save your Seed Words!
The following point is important enough to warrant a sub-heading of its own. MetaMask is a non-custodial Service, which means no one else can access your funds - not even the developers at MetaMask. Your tokens are in a kind of encrypted vault in your browser, which is protected by your password. This means that if your computer is lost, stolen or destroyed, nobody can help you to find the wallet. Your private keys will be forever lost in the void of cyberspace.
It is therefore important that you write down your backup phrase. This is the only way to restore your account in case something unfortunate happens. As suggested, we recommend that you write down the words and keep them in two or three different places. You don't need to bury them in a fireproof safe deep in the woods, but hey, it couldn't hurt.
Click the gray box to display the phrase.
When you get to the next page, the program assumes that you may have been lazy in the previous step, asking you to confirm the phrase. If you didn't do it the first time, click Back and write it down!
Confirm the sentence and then proceed to the next step. click on All done, and you will see the surface of the wallet.
The boring part is over, let's get rich on (testnet) ethers next.
Charge the wallet
In this tutorial we will use the Ropsten test net. It's a network that works almost exactly like the real Ethereum network, but its units have no value. These are very useful if you are developing contracts and want to make sure they don't have any vulnerabilities that would allow attackers to steal $ 50 million in value. Every step that we take in this network today will be reproducible in reality (with the exception of the part in which they give us free ether, unfortunately).
To get in the mood for the Ropsten test network, click on in the upper right corner Main Ethereum Network and choose Ropsten Test Network.
There are many different test networks on Ethereum. If you are wondering about the differences, check out this comparison.
We're going to use a faucet to get some play money to play around with. Navigate to this page with your Metamask-enabled browser to get some.
Juhuu! Free Money!
You can click the little fox icon at any time to get a pop-up with your MetaMask account information (as we did in the GIF above). Move your mouse over Account 1 and click on it to copy your Ethereum address to the clipboard. Now insert this into the form and click on Send me test Ether.
Ethereum transactions are generally confirmed pretty quickly, but it can take a while for 1 ETH to land in your wallet. Check if you've received them by clicking the fox on your toolbar.
Once this is done we can interact with the DApps.
Unlock the decentralized web
Since we're on a testnet, we don't have that wide range of applications to play around with. For a comprehensive list of decentralized applications on the mainnet, see State of the DApps or Dappradar. You can play games, buy unique assets, or place bets on prediction markets.
We'll be using the DApp that we demonstrated earlier. Uniswap is a decentralized exchange, or DEX, which means that it allows us to place trades without relying on intermediaries. The underlying mechanisms are pretty neat - see What is Uniswap and how does it work? after if you are interested in how it works.
You can find it here. You should see the prompt in the top right corner Connect to a wallet. You will see this in some form on all MetaMask-compatible websites, as no automatic connection is established for security reasons. Click on it and you will be asked to select the wallet you are using. In case you weren't careful, this will be the MetaMask Wallet.
The first time a site tries to connect, a MetaMask dialog appears asking you to confirm the action. You can choose an account (we only have one for now, so just leave it as it is) before checking what permissions to grant. In this case, as in many other cases, the site will request information about the address of the wallet that you are using to control your account.
About MetaMask and data protection
It is important to pay attention to what you allow. If a website knows your address, it can see all ether and token transactions to and from it. It could also correlate this with your IP address.
Some prefer to separate their addresses from each other in order to avoid duplication, while others do not care about these risks (after all, it is well known: the blockchain is public). The level of privacy you want to achieve ultimately depends on you. As a general rule, do not allow access to websites that you do not trust.
Exchange ether for DAI
Time for our first swap. We'll do it mi DAI, an ERC-20 token that serves as a stablecoin. But just like our ether, this DAI has no real value either. click on Select a token, Add the Uniswap Default List then click DAI. Alternatively, you can also choose WETH (Wrapped Ether).
Now we just have to enter the amount of ETH that we want to swap. As we do this, we get an estimate of how much DAI we will receive. And we are ready to go! Press Swap.
Use MetaMask to handle the swap.
You will be asked again to interact with MetaMask. In this case, you need to approve the transaction before it is created. Make sure you are happy with the fees when doing this on the mainnet as they can be substantial.
After that we just have to wait for the confirmation of the transaction!
Where are my tokens?
So your ethers are gone, but your account doesn't show your tokens. Don't panic - you'll have to add them manually.
For more popular tokens, you can use Add token select and search for the name or ticker. For the less popular tokens (or those in the testnet) we have to use the Contract address add - an identifier that tells MetaMask where to look for our credit.
Open your wallet by clicking the extension.
Click on the three dots in the top bar.
Choose View on Etherscan.
Click below Overview on the drop-down list Token and choose DAI.
Under Profile Summary you should see a contract address. Move your mouse over it and copy the address.
Return to the MetaMask and click Add token.
Click the tab Custom token.
Paste the address you just copied into the Token Contract Address Form.
The rest should be filled in automatically. click on Next, followed by Add tokens.
Return to the main overview to see your full balance.
Congratulation! You have just interacted with your first DApp by exchanging Ether for DAI without trust. Everything you learned can now be done in the real world. When you're ready to start playing with the mainnet's applications, be sure to switch from Ropsten back to the mainnet.
What should i know?
MetaMask has some other nice features that we haven't covered today. You can also connect a hardware wallet (Trezor and Ledger are both supported), create a contact list and of course receive and send funds like in a normal wallet. Take a look at the settings to customize the extension for your needs.
Otherwise, the usual security principles apply: MetaMask is a hot wallet, i.e. it runs on a device connected to the Internet. This puts you at greater risk than having a cold wallet kept offline to reduce attack vectors.
When using the MetaMask, you should be aware of which websites you are giving access to.
The MetaMask app
The MetaMask Android / iPhone app offers a clean solution for the mobile use of Web3 apps. It offers largely the same functionality as the extension and integrates a DApp browser so that you can access various decentralized applications at the push of a button.
The browser of the MetaMask app.
The app's workflow is very similar to that of the browser extension. You can transfer ether or tokens directly from your wallet or even interact with Uniswap as we saw above.
Connection to PoolTogether via a command prompt within the app.
MetaMask is a powerful tool for surfing the decentralized web. If you've followed the steps in this guide, then you've seen the wallet's potential. Obviously, others have it too: it currently has over a million users.
As the Ethereum stack evolves, applications like MetaMask will undoubtedly become integral parts of the bridge between existing technologies and the nascent cryptocurrency infrastructure.
Do you have any questions about MetaMask, Ethereum or something else? Go to Ask Academy where the community will answer them.