The Monero GUI (wallet) broken down in plain English

With the recent influx of new users to Monero I’ve noticed a lot of them having issues with the GUI wallet so I decided to break all its aspects down in plain English.

If you are wanting instant access to a Monero GUI wallet skip to the end of this guide where I discuss remote nodes. Remotes nodes compromise security however so they are not recommended.

Step 1 — Downloading the GUI

Start by visiting Monero’s website, getmonero.org, click on the downloads page and download your required version (make sure you download the (GUI) version and not the (Command-Line Tools Only). A GUI is a Graphic User Interface, or more simply in this case a Monero wallet.

SHA256 Hash (GUI): This is used to verify the download is not corrupted if you wish to do so. However, that will be left out of this guide but click here if you wish to do so.

Step 2 — Launching the GUI

Once downloaded and launching the Monero GUI you will be greeted with the two screens below, start by choosing your language.

To create your new Monero wallet click on the ‘create a new wallet’ option.

Restore wallet from keys or mnemonic seed: This option for is if you have had a Monero wallet in the past and still have the private keys or mnemonic seed on hand (explained in the next step).

Open a wallet from a file: This is also if you have had a Monero wallet in the past. When you create your wallet in step 3 a file will be created that is locked by the password you set in the next step. This is the file it is referring to.

Testnet: The little checkbox you see under these 3 options called testnet should be left un checked. The testnet is a sandbox type environment where you can play with fake Monero and test out new upcoming features.

Step 3 — Creating the wallet

This is where you begin creating your new Monero wallet. First you will need to give the wallet a name, it can be anything.

Secondly, and most importantly, is the mnemonic 25-word seed seen below. This seed is a backup of your wallet and is cryptographically tied to your private key (which is what is used to access your Monero). Copy and paste this key onto a document and print it out, store it in a safe dry place — anyone who has access to this can access your wallet!

Your wallet is stored in: There is where your key file will be created and stored once you finish this wallet creation process. This key file will be encrypted by a password that you will set in the next step. If you lose this key file, the only way to restore your Monero wallet is the 25-seed key you copied above.

Next is creating a password which will encrypt the key file that is going to be generated upon completion of creating your wallet. I highly recommend creating a really strong, randomly generated unique password using a program such as KeePassX. With cryptocurrency you are your own bank and only you are responsible for the security of your funds, so this is highly important. I would also recommend keeping this key file in cold storage such as a USB and only access it when using your funds.

Your wallet is now complete, and your Key file should be in the location you specified in the prior step.

Daemon address: A daemon is simply a program that runs as a background process. The process your GUI will start running once you click the ‘use monero’ button will be to download the Monero blockchain which is currently around 34.66 GB and can take up to 48 hours to fully download — you will not be able to use your wallet until this is complete. There are ways around this however which we will get into later in this guide. Having the blockchain fully downloaded using this method is known as running a full node. Operating a full node is more secure and helps decentralize the network — you are technically a record keeper for the Monero community!

Step 4 — Using the Monero GUI

This is the first thing you will see when you open your GUI. Below details what each element of this page means.

Side bar

Balance and unlocked balance: The balance is how much Monero you have in your wallet and the unlocked balance is how much Monero you are able to spend at that given time. After sending a transaction you will notice that the unlocked balance will be zero, but your balance will still show any Monero you have. This is the nature of ring signatures which can be learned about by clicking here.

Navigation: The sections on the right hand side are used to navigate around the Monero GUI.

Network status: Network status indicates if your blockchain is fully synced or your remote node (see later) is fully connected or not. If the blocks remaining is still present, your wallet is not fully functional. If this says disconnected, you may be having network difficulties.

Blocks remaining: This is the progress of your blockchain sync to your computer. This can take up to 48 hours but is recommended for optimal security. Use an SSD to speed this process up.

Note: This sync actually involves two kinds of syncing. First, the blockchain syn, which is basically downloading the blockchain from other nodes / peers. Second, the wallet sync, which is the wallet “refreshing” / scanning blocks looking for transactions belonging to your address / wallet. The GUI is currently using the same status bar for both syncs, which can be a bit confusing to newcomers. Fortunately, this will be fixed in the next release. Thus, if you see the “Blocks remaining:” starting all over again, it’s the wallet refreshing.

Send

Amount: This is how much Monero you want to send.

Transaction priority: This is the priority your transaction will get to be put into the next Monero blockchain block by miners. The more you pay the more likely you get included in the next block meaning you transaction will go through faster — I recommended just staying with default or even using the slow option if you aren’t in a rush.

Address: This is where you put the Monero address you are sending to. I would recommend copying and pasting all addresses to prevent errors.

Payment ID: The payment ID is an identity attached to the transaction you are about to send. Often when sending to say an exchange they will give you a payment ID that you must include here. This is so they know that the Monero they get is from you.

If you forget to add your payment ID you should still be able to recover your funds by contacting the party you sent Monero to.

Description: This is for your record keeping. You can add some information regarding your transaction for future reference.

Privacy level (ringsizes): This setting increases the size of the ring signatures your transaction is a part of. Higher ring sizes ‘may’ increase privacy of the transaction but also increases the fees. I would recommend leaving this as the default 5. Learn more about ring signatures here.

Sweep unmixable: This allows you to get rid of outputs in your wallet which have strange amounts like 0.000006839355, and are unmovable without combining them with another output. You will more than likely never need to use this feature. Learn more here.

Sign tx file: This button allows you to cryptographically sign a file with your private key. This is useful if you want to verify a transaction on an offline wallet. Learn more here.

Address Book

This section lets you save users you frequently transact with. Addresses you put in your address book can be easily copied over when sending a transaction.

Receive

Address: This is your public Monero wallet address you share with people.

Payment ID: If you want to know who sent you what you can generate and give payment IDs to individuals so you know who sent you Monero.

Integrated address: This is an address that combines your address and payment ID into one. This can be used instead of using the address and payment ID. Whether address + payment ID or intergrated address is used differs from site to site. Payment IDs and intergrated addresses will be obsolete once Monero sub-addresses are live.

Amount: How much Monero you are wanting to receive.

QR code: This is a QR code that has your wallet address embedded into it. It can be used as a way to give others your Monero address by simplying scanning the code.

History

The history section shows all your past sent and received Monero transactions to this wallet. Clicking on the ‘details’ button also shows you some information (below) which you will see how to use later in this guide.

Details of a Monero transaction.

Advanced— Mining

This is a one click CPU miner that is embedded into the GUI. Having this on helps secure the Monero network. The more people that mine, the harder it is for the network to be attacked.

It is very unlikely that you will receive awards from doing this, but it is not outside the realm of possibility.

Advanced — Check Payment

When you send money to a party who then disputes the payment was made, you need to be able to prove the payment was made.

With Bitcoin, this is typically done by looking up the transaction ID, where the origin and destination addresses are shown, along with the amount transacted.

Monero, however, is private: that information is not available publicly on the blockchain. The steps are therefore a bit more involved.

Address: This is the wallet address of the recipient. This can be found by clicking on the details button next to the transaction in your history tab.

Transaction ID: This is the ID of the payment and can be found in the history tab and by clicking on details button next to the transaction (see below).

Transaction Key: When a transaction is made a one time key is automatically generated just for that transaction. This can also be found by clicking on details in the history tab.

Below is what should appear once entering the valid payment details.

Advanced — Sign/Verify

Sign / Verify Monero GUI

In this section you can sign a message or file with your private key so that it can be used to show you have ownership of your Monero public key to others. This is a great want to prove accountability without having to sacrifice anonymity.

Sign a message or file contents with your address:

Message or file: This is where you will write your message (top box) or attach a file (second box). Upon clicking on ‘sign’ you will generate a signature.

Signature: This is where you unique signature will appear once you click sign. This is linked to your private key / message or file you entered and will be used to verify a message or file that either you (for testing purposes), or others, create.

Verify a message or file signature from an address:

Message or file: This is where you will put a message or file that has been signed with a signature.

Signing address: This is where you will put the public Monero address you are wanting to verify.

Signature: This is where you paste the signature that the other user generated and gave to you.

Once all the required information has been inputted click verify. You should get a notification such as below if the signature is good.

Settings

This section covers general wallet and daemon management.

Close Wallet: This closes your wallet.

Create view only wallet: This allows you to create a view only wallet that has a separate key file and login to your main wallet. View only wallets can not send Monero but you can use it as a way to view your balance.

Show seed & keys

This shows your wallets mnemonic seed (explained earlier) as well as your secret view key, public view key, secret spend key and public spend key. These are outlined below.

Public / Secret view key: These keys allow you and others to view your Monero wallet incoming transactions (not outgoing). Only give your public view key NOT your private view key to others. This is useful for auditing purposes. Your private view key is also used to ‘scan’ the blockchain to find funds sent to your address. Learn more.

Public / Secret spend key: These keys allow you to participate in ring signatures. The private key is used to sign a key image which is generated when a transaction happens and the public spend key is used by the network to verify the signature of the key image you generated. This is what prevents double-spend as the network enforces the rule that a key image can be spent only once. Learn more.

Re-scan wallet balance: This scans the Monero blockchain for any funds that belong to you.

Manage daemon

Start / stop daemon: You can start/stop the daemon (downloading the blockchain) by clicking this.

Show status: This shows the status of your daemon log.

Block chain location: This is where you can specify where you want your Monero blockchain to be downloaded. This file can be large and take a long time (48 hours) to download. I would recommend putting it on an external SSD.

Daemon startup flags: This is where you put additional commands you can give your daemon upon starting up.

Daemon address: This is your daemon address which specifies if you want to run a full node (localhost:18081) or connect to a remote node which means using someone else copy of the blockchain to verify transactions. Remote nodes can be found here, I have also specified the main nodes used below. I recommend not using a remote node as it impacts your privacy but it can be handy if you need instant access to a wallet.

node.moneroworld.com at port 18089
node.xmrbackb.one at port 18081
node.xmr.be  at port 18081
node.viaxmr.com  at port 18081

Login (optional): This is only required if the remote node you connect to requires a password.

If you incur any issues, please take a look at the GUI mega thread on reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Monero/comments/7hhgjx/monero_gui_01110_helium_hydra_megathread_download

That’s pretty much it! If you have any questions or concerns feel free to pop me a message.