How to use a Bitcoin wallet (for newbies)

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This page aims to be the best resource for new users to understand how Bitcoin wallets work, and how to use them.

Introduction

To use Bitcoin, some sort of wallet is needed. There are several wallet programs from you to choose from, as well as a web wallet called My Wallet.

Security

Before proceeding, you should make sure your computer system is secure.

How to use My Wallet

The following demonstrates how to use My Wallet, but most of it applies to any other client you choose.

  1. Open an account
  2. Choose a strong password
    1. Note - there is no "reset your password" feature. You must not lose your password.
  3. Recommended: Associate an email address with the account, for backup purposes.
  4. You now have a Bitcoin Address, which you can use to receive payments - just email your address to another person, and he can send money directly to this address.
    1. Note - anyone who knows your address might be able to analyze your transactions and estimate how much Bitcoins you own. Understand that Bitcoin is pseudonymous, not anonymous.
  5. Understand that your wallet can contain numerous bitcoin addresses. It is a good practice to generate a new receiving address for each incoming transaction, to increase anonymity.
  6. You can now get some Bitcoins ... for free. Make sure to test it, try sending a few (milli)bitcoins to someone and get the hang of it.
  7. If you want to own some more Bitcoins, proceed to Buying Bitcoins (the newbie version)

How to use another client

The other clients are similar in principle to My Wallet, but there are a few important differences:

  1. You need to download a software to your computer to use them (make sure to only download form a trusted source ... if unsure, ask)
  2. You have to take care to make a secure backup of your wallet.