Frequently Asked Questions¶
How does Electrum work?¶
Electrum’s focus is speed, with low resource usage and simplifying Bitcoin. Startup times are instant because it operates in conjunction with high-performance servers that handle the most complicated parts of the Bitcoin system.
Does Electrum trust servers?¶
Not really; the Electrum client never sends private keys to the servers. In addition, it verifies the information reported by servers, using a technique called Simple Payment Verification
What is the Seed?¶
The seed is a random phrase that is used to generate your private keys.
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Your wallet can be entirely recovered from its seed. For this, select the “restore wallet” option in the startup.
How secure is the seed?¶
The seed created by Electrum has 128 bits of entropy. This means that it provides the same level of security as a Bitcoin private key (of length 256 bits). Indeed, an elliptic curve key of length n provides n/2 bits of security.
How can I send the maximum available in my wallet?¶
Type an exclamation mark (!) in the Amount field. The fee will be automatically adjusted for that amount.
How can I send Bitcoins without paying a transaction fee?¶
You can create a transaction with zero fee in the GUI, by following these steps:
- Activate the option ‘set fees manually’
- Enter 0 in the fee field
- Enter the amount in the amount field
Note that transactions without fees might not be relayed by the Electrum server, or by the Bitcoin Network.
What does it mean to “Freeze” an address in Electrum?¶
When you freeze an address, the funds in that address will not be used for sending bitcoins. You can not send Bitcoins if you don’t have enough funds in the non-frozen addresses.
What encryption is used for wallets?¶
Electrum uses AES-256-CBC to encrypt the seed and private keys in the wallet.
I have forgotten my password but still have my seed. Is there any way I can recover my password?¶
No, you cannot recover your password. However, you can still recover your money: restore your wallet from its seed, and choose a new password.
Why can I open the wallet without entering my password?¶
Only the seed and private keys are encrypted, and not the entire wallet file. The private keys are decrypted only briefly, when you need to sign a transaction; for this you need to enter your password. This is done in order to minimize the amount of time during which sensitive information is unencrypted in your computer’s memory.
Can I import private keys from other Bitcoin clients?¶
In Electrum 2.0, you cannot import private keys in a wallet that has a seed. You should sweep them instead.
If you want to import private keys and not sweep them you need to create a special wallet that does not have a seed. For this, create a new wallet, select “restore”, and instead of typing your seed, type a list of private keys, or a list of addresses if you want to create a watching-only wallet.
You will need to back up this wallet, because it cannot be recovered from seed.
Can I sweep private keys from other Bitcoin clients?¶
Sweeping private keys means to send all the bitcoins they control to an existing address in your wallet. The private keys you sweep do not become a part of your wallet. Instead, all the bitcoins they control are sent to an address that has been deterministically generated from your wallet seed.
To sweep private keys go to Wallet menu -> Private Keys -> Sweep. Enter the private keys in the appropriate field. Leave the ‘Address’ field unchanged. That is the destination address and it’ll be from your existing electrum wallet.
Where is my wallet file located?¶
The default wallet file is called default_wallet which is created when you first run the application and located under the /wallets folder.
- Show hidden files
- Go to UsersYourUserNameAppDataRoamingElectrumwallets
- Open Finder
- Go to folder (shift+cmd+G) and type ~/.electrum
- Home Folder
- Go -> Location and type ~/.electrum
Can I do bulk payments with Electrum?¶
You can create a transaction with several outputs. In the GUI, type each address and amount on a line, separated by a comma.
Amounts are in the current unit set in the client. The total is shown in the GUI.
You can also import a CSV file in the ‘Pay to’ field, by clicking on the folder icon.
Can Electrum create and sign raw transactions?¶
Electrum lets you create and sign raw transactions right from the user interface using a form.
Electrum freezes when I try to send bitcoins¶
This might happen if you are trying to spend a large number of transactions outputs (for example, if you have collected hundreds of donations from a Bitcoin faucet). When you send Bitcoins, Electrum looks for unspent coins that are in your wallet, in order to create a new transaction. Unspent coins can have different values, much like physical coins and bills.
If this happens, you should consolidate your transaction inputs, by sending smaller amounts of bitcoins to one of your wallet addresses; this would be the equivalent of exchanging a stack of nickels for a dollar bill.
Is there a way to get a BTC/USD exchange ticker in Electrum?¶
Yes, go to Tools->Plugins and enable ‘exchange rates’
What is the gap limit?¶
The gap limit is the maximum number of consecutive unused addresses in your deterministic sequence of addresses. Electrum uses it in order to stop looking for addresses. In Electrum 2.0, it is set to 20 by default, so the client will get all addresses until 20 unused addresses are found.
How can I pre-generate new addresses?¶
Electrum will generate new addresses as you use them, until it hits the gap limit
If you need to pre-generate more addresses, you can do so by typing wallet.create_new_address() in the console. This command will generate one new address. Note that the address will be shown with a red background in the address tab, to indicate that it is beyond the gap limit. The red color will remain until the gap is filled.
WARNING: Addresses beyond the gap limit will not automatically be recovered from seed. To recover them will require either increasing the client’s gap limit or generating new addresses until the used addresses are found.
If you wish to generate more than one address, you may use a ‘for’ loop. For example, if you wanted to generate 50 addresses, you could do this:
for x in range(0, 50): print wallet.create_new_address()
How to upgrade Electrum?¶
Warning: always save your wallet seed on paper before doing an upgrade.
To upgrade Electrum, just install the most recent version. The way to do this will depend on your OS.
Note that your wallet files are stored separately from the software, so you can safely remove the old version of the software if your OS does not do it for you.
Some Electrum upgrades will modify the format of your wallet files.
For this reason, it is not recommended to downgrade Electrum to an older version, once you have opened your wallet file with the new version. The older version will not always be able to read the new wallet file.
The following issues should be considered when upgrading Electrum 1.x wallets to Electrum 2.x:
- Electrum 2.x will need to regenerate all of your addresses during the upgrade process. Please allow it time to complete, and expect it to take a little longer than usual for Electrum to be ready.
- The contents of your wallet file will be replaced with an Electrum 2 wallet. This means Electrum 1.x will no longer be able to use your wallet once the upgrade is complete.
- The ‘Addresses’ tab will not show any addresses the first time you launch Electrum 2. This is expected behaviour. Restart Electrum 2 after the upgrade is complete and your addresses will be available.
- Offline copies of Electrum will not show the addresses at all because it cannot synchronize with the network. You can force an offline generation of a few addresses by typing the following into the Console: wallet.synchronize(). When it’s complete, restart Electrum and your addresses will once again be available.