What Is Etherscan and How Do You Use It?

Etherscan is helpful for tracking and understanding the Ethereum network

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Etherscan is a website that allows you to search the Ethereum blockchain for free. Using Etherscan, you can find past transactions, wallets, smart contracts, and other details related to Ethereum-based assets and trades.

Ether, the Ethereum network’s native coin, is the second-largest cryptocurrency globally by market capitalization and is popular for investing, trading, and other cryptocurrency-related activities. Like other cryptocurrencies, all transactions are publicly recorded in a large database called a blockchain. You can use Etherscan to learn more about the transactions on the Ethereum network spanning from transfer for coins to purchase of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Learn more about Etherscan, how it works, and why you may want to use it in your cryptocurrency strategy.

What Is Etherscan?

Etherscan is a blockchain explorer platform for the Ethereum blockchain. You can use this free tool to view any past transaction, wallet, smart contract, NFT, and anything else you may want to view in the history of Ethereum. There are similar products for other blockchains as well.

Information you can view on the EtherScan homepage

Eric Rosenberg / The Balance

You can view new transactions and blocks on the Etherscan homepage.

Etherscan is a free service that doesn’t hold or store your cryptocurrency. It’s not a cryptocurrency wallet provider or cryptocurrency exchange. It is simply a tool to view the history of Ethereum transactions.

That means you can find your wallet and historical transactions, but you would have to go to your cryptocurrency exchange or wallet provider to use Ether or enter a transaction.

How To Start Using Etherscan

To use most features on Etherscan, you can go straight to the website and start searching. To find a specific wallet, transaction, or other digital assets, you will need that wallet’s public address or the transaction ID.

Etherscan allows searching by address, transaction hash (transaction ID), block, token, or across the Ethereum Name System (ENS). You can also browse recent transactions and learn more about the current state of the Ethereum network on the homepage.

The web app also supports creating an account, which is optional. You can create watch lists to track accounts and wallets, make notes, get alerts, and set up a public profile with a free account.

Due to the semi-anonymous nature of cryptocurrency, you may want to use the site without registering, as that creates a new digital link between you and your wallet that you may prefer to keep private.

You can use most features without creating an account. For example, if you’re waiting on a pending Ether transaction, you could use Etherscan to monitor the wallet address for the new transaction. This is one of many potential uses of the tools available at Etherscan.

How To Read Etherscan

The Etherscan homepage will give you a snapshot of Ethereum blockchain, including the price and market cap of Ether and details about the latest transaction and blocks verified on the blockchain.

If you’re looking for detailed information about a specific block, you can find that on Etherscan. Using the tool, you can learn more about a block, where it is on the blockchain, how many transactions make up that particular block, who successfully mined it, and how much computational energy was utilized in mining it, among other details.

You can also search for transaction histories of particular Ethereum addresses. Etherscan relies on the same randomized letters and numbers of blockchain wallet addresses. Once you understand the basics of how blockchain transactions and assets work, it’s easy to understand what you see on Etherscan.

Wallet Tracking

Entering a wallet address or clicking on a wallet address from another page brings you to the wallet details page. Using the address tracking features, you can view all past transactions for a specific cryptocurrency wallet and its current holdings using the address tracking features.

Example of a wallet address tracking page on Etherscan

Eric Rosenberg / The Balance

Viewing Ether Transactions

The transaction detail page shows the current status, the number of confirmations, sending and receiving addresses, value, and transaction fees. This can help trace the history of an asset or confirm that a transaction is in progress or completed.

Details for an Ether transaction that can be viewed on EtherScan

Eric Rosenberg / The Balance

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts, the software that powers NFTs, decentralized finance, and decentralized apps, are recorded on the blockchain, similarly to other Ethereum transactions.

The explorer is useful in viewing the histories of these assets and verifying ownership, among other uses. While you won’t necessarily view an NFT through Etherscan, you can view the code showing who owns it and follow links to view the asset.

Limitations of Etherscan

Etherscan provides a plethora of details, but that’s overkill for some individuals. You can easily view updated transaction details, holdings, and prices using your wallet or exchange in most cases. That could make Etherscan superfluous for some investors.

Etherscan provides data in an accessible format, but it’s not suitable for active trading charts. It’s also not a place to buy, sell, or send digital currency. These unique features make Etherscan an excellent addition to your cryptocurrency tracking, not a standalone replacement.

What It Means for Individual Investors

Etherscan won’t revolutionize your cryptocurrency strategy in most cases, but it is helpful for understanding and tracking your wallet, transactions, and learning more about how Ethereum and blockchains work.

While the code and transaction details behind the scenes are more helpful to developers, it’s valuable to individual investors looking to follow their involvement in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Blockchain explorers also help ensure that all cryptocurrency data is publicly available and accessible, an essential facet of blockchain technology.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I connect MetaMask to Etherscan?

MetaMask is a type of cryptocurrency wallet that’s compatible with Ethereum. You can’t connect your MetaMaks wallet to Etherscan, but you can view your wallet’s contents and history on the site. Copy your wallet address and paste it into the Etherscan search box to view your MetaMask wallet on Etherscan.

Where do I find the token decimal on Etherscan?

Etherscan’s features allow you to view details for any token on the Ethereum blockchain. You can find the token decimal, small illiquid value of the token derived from the smart contract, on the token page in Etherscan under the profile summary section.

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