What Is MetaMask? How to Get Started

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Are you curious about NFTs but don't know where to start? Interested in crypto, but wallets are too complicated or scary? MetaMask is a crypto and NFT wallet that works as a mobile app or browser extension, serving as an easy and approachable entry into the world of blockchain apps and assets.

What Is MetaMask?

MetaMask calls itself "your connection to the new web" and is designed to serve as a wallet and ID for blockchain-based online applications built on Ethereum. In addition to giving users a way to access crypto and NFTs, it promises a more secure and private browser experience. The only catch is that when users hold all of their data, they can't afford to lose it or give it away by themselves.

Download: MetaMask for iOS | Android | Chrome

MetaMask works as a free mobile app for iOS and Android, but it can also work as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, Brave, and Edge desktop browsers. If you use Firefox, Brave, or Edge, visit the MetaMask download page, scroll down to Supported Browsers, and select the icon for your preferred browser. From there, install it like any other app or extension.

The screenshots taken for this article are from MetaMask as an Edge extension, so if you're following along with an app or an alternate browser extension, things may look a little different on your screen.

How to Get Started With a MetaMask Account

At its heart, MetaMask is a crypto wallet. If you want the benefits of interacting with blockchain apps through a MetaMask account, you may be wondering if you can link your existing wallets. The answer is "maybe."

When you're first signing up, there is a page to link an existing wallet to a new MetaMask account by inputting your recovery phrase. While writing this article, the recovery phrase for an existing blockchain.com wallet was entered, but MetaMask didn't recognize it. Common app reviews say that MetaMask doesn't work with all hard wallets, so this could just be a bug with MetaMask.

Related: The Best Cryptocurrency Wallets: Desktop, Mobile, and Hardware Options Compared

Making a new MetaMask account as a browser extension is fast and easy. The hardest part has to do with your seed phrase, which becomes your recovery phrase. If you're familiar with crypto wallets, you're familiar with this concept. If MetaMask is your first crypto wallet, all you need to know is explained in a brief video.

How to Secure Your MetaMask Wallet

Essentially, your twelve-word recovery phrase serves as a backup in the event that you can't log into your account. Because MetaMask sees itself as the foundation of your identity on the new internet, someone else getting into your account is like someone else getting hold of your social security number – not just your cash and cards.

The set-up pages recommend that you write down your recovery phrase and keep it in a safe place or use a trusted password manager.

Related: How Do Password Managers Work?

Once you have your recovery phrase, you have to select the words in order out of a word bank to ensure that you have it copied correctly. Once this little test is done, a confirmation page tells you that you're ready to start using MetaMask.

How to Access a MetaMask Account

Once your MetaMask browser extension is set up, you can access it by going back to the MetaMask website and signing in. Of course, because it's a browser extension, you can also select the MetaMask logo from the extensions toolbar next to the search bar at the top of your browser window.

Accessing MetaMask from your extensions toolbar shows you what network MetaMask is working on and a quick view of your assets. It also shows you whether your MetaMask account is connected with the site that you are on. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there aren't a lot of sites that work with MetaMask. If you find one, a button on the site will allow you to connect your account.

From either the website interface or the extension interface, you can also buy, sell, or swap the assets in your wallet. You can buy using a bank transfer, or a credit or debit account. You can also transfer ETH from another wallet or swap ETH in your account for other supported tokens. At any time, you can copy your public wallet address to your clipboard by clicking your account name.

Because MetaMask is so big on security, you will need to log into your account again when you relaunch your browser. We tested that the recovery phrase works to reset a password, and it does, but we promise that memorizing your password is easier.

How to Personalize Your MetaMask Account

You can access your account from the extensions or website interface by clicking the stacked dots icon on the upper right and selecting Account Details from the resulting menu. This brings up a QR code and a text version of your public address. You can also click the pencil icon to the right of your account name to change it at any time.

From either interface, you can also change which network MetaMask is using so that it can support additional blockchains. Click the field reading Ethereum Mainnet (the default MetaMask network) to open a drop-down menu of other supported networks. The bottom item, Custom RPC, allows you to add networks that aren't part of the standard support list.

Related: What Is Ethereum and How Does It Work?

Time to Put on the MetaMask?

MetaMask isn't the passport to the internet that it aspires to be. At least, not yet. MetaMask is an early comer to a nascent field of internet design. One day, it really could solve our problems of identity, security, and finance on the web.

That MetaMask doesn't do all of those things yet doesn't mean it isn't yet worth having. Even while we wait for that next generation of the internet, MetaMask is already an approachable and user-friendly wallet, giving you everything you need to dip your toes into the future of blockchain and decentralized apps.

MUO – Feed