Metamask is an Ethereum crypto wallet for Chrome browsers that can manage ETH, NFTs, and any cryptocurrency built on Ethereum, and is easy to set up and learn. Crypto wallets use public/private key cryptography to sign transactions, allowing users to interact with blockchain smart contracts.
The most important component of a crypto wallet is the ‘seed phrase,’ a set of 12-24 randomly generated English words from which the wallet’s private and public keys are derived. The seed phrase allows a user to access their crypto wallet from any device, and must be kept secret as it affords complete control over the wallet’s assets. Most crypto wallets are managed by web browser extensions or smartphone apps, but some wallets are managed by desktop programs like Exodus or Daedelus.
A crypto wallet is needed to interact with Web3 decentralized applications (dApps), and Metamask is the most popular browser wallet for Ethereum and EVM blockchains. As CodeHS discusses, users can download the Metamask extension from Metamask‘s official website, and then follow the prompts to create their Ethereum wallet. The seed phrase should be written on paper and never stored digitally, and a strong password should be chosen to keep the wallet locked (Chrome can’t auto complete the password, though). It should also be noted that anyone who asks for a crypto wallet’s seed phrase is a scammer, and should be ignored. In order to use a Web3 dApp, users must hold enough ETH to pay for Ethereum’s gas fees, which can be purchased through third-party ‘on-ramp’ services under the ‘Buy’ option on Metamask’s main interface. Users may also purchase and withdraw ETH from a cryptocurrency exchange, such as Coinbase, Binance, or Robinhood, which may be a cheaper option for some users.
A single Metamask wallet address (and its seed phrase) can be used across all EVM blockchains, such as Binance Smart Chain (BNB Chain), Avalanche, Fantom, and Polygon (and other Ethereum scaling solutions). It can also be used to create a Web3 social media profile on the DeSo blockchain. However, Metamask cannot connect to non-EVM blockchains, such as Solana or Cardano, which have their own crypto wallet browser extensions. Sending tokens can be accessed via the main interface page, and addresses can be saved and named in an address book in the extension. Token swapping is also placed on the front page, which taps into decentralized exchanges (DEXes) like Uniswap and Sushiswap to exchange tokens on the same blockchain, including stablecoins.
Web3 users should always consider buying and using a hardware crypto wallet to protect their high-value assets against computer viruses that steal private keys. Once a hardware wallet has been set up independently, Metamask can connect to it by clicking the ‘Connect Hardware Wallet‘ button found by clicking the colorful circle in the top right corner. Hardware wallets must be physically connected to a computer or smartphone for Metamask to use them, but are also the most secure way to store blockchain assets.
While its interface may not be immediately friendly to non-crypto people, Metamask isn’t difficult to figure out. The hardest part of creating a new wallet is writing down and storing the seed phrase, which should never be stored in a digital file where it can be potentially accessed by a determined hacker or computer virus. Although it can be thwarted by malicious links and phishing attacks, Metamask users always have a chance to confirm every transaction and double-check the details before signing. Fortunately, Metamask makes creating additional wallets just as easy as creating the first, which can be used for interacting with potentially malicious smart contracts.
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