MetaMask is a cryptocurrency wallet that stores a wide variety of tokens from different chains. Originally, MetaMask only supported ERC-20 and ERC-72 tokens which are on the Ethereum network. Due to developments in the cryptocurrency space, you can now add different networks to MetaMask such as Fantom chain, Polygon, Avalanche, and Binance Smart Chain among others, as well as Ethereum Layer 2, scaling solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism. Other functionalities include storing NFTs, hardware wallet connection for extra security, connecting to dApps, and swapping tokens.
For the purposes of this beginner's guide, we will learn how to install MetaMask using Firefox. Type about: addons where you would normally type a website address and then type MetaMask in the “find more add-ons section” on the top right. From there make sure that you do not install the legacy version for more stability and security.
MetaMask may also be downloaded from the download page of their website found here: https://MetaMask.io/download.html and re-directed to the appropriate place once you choose the browser you use. Once the add-on has been installed be able to create an Ethereum wallet. On a fresh installation of MetaMask, follow the following steps:
Create a wallet
agree to terms and conditions
Set up a secure password/passphrase. A secure password is defined here as 15 characters or more with a combination of upper case, lower case, letters, numbers, and symbols.
Create the wallet.
The password is used to access your wallet while you have access to the current state of your browser. If something happens to your computer and you have not backed up your browser settings, then you will need the recovery phrase to access your account.
After you set the password you will be prompted to store your recovery phrase (also known as seed phrase), a set of 12 words. Do not put your recovery on your computer, do not give it to anyone. Write it down on a piece of paper and keep it for yourself in a secure location where it won’t be found by anyone else except you. This phrase is unique to your wallet, so if someone gains access to it they will be able to transfer all your assets over to themselves. Since blockchain is permissionless, once a transaction is executed it is permanent and there won’t be any way to gain back access to those funds. Having ownership of your cryptocurrency outside of a cryptocurrency exchange means that you are responsible for your own assets and effectively become your own bank. Make sure to use the appropriate precautions and operational security measures while handling cryptocurrency.
Gas and Ether:
Before we discuss how to send cryptocurrency through the Ethereum network, we will discuss the costs associated with doing so and how it works. When a transaction is executed on Ethereum, it uses ether also known as gas. It functions as a unit of measurement for the computational requirements needed to execute a smart contract. The larger the computation needed to run the smart contract the more ether is required. Every transaction you send will have a minimum and maximum amount of gas needed to execute it. On the minimum setting, the transaction takes longer as there are other transactions also requesting to be processed at the same time. The more gas you use the faster the transaction will be processed. Gwei refers to how much ether you are willing to spend per unit of gas. Gas fluctuates depending on the number of transactions running at the same time on the Ethereum network.
To see how much gas costs are right now – and what that means for typical transaction types in dollar terms – you can check https://etherscan.io/gastracker . You can also click on “Advanced Options” when choosing the gas fee to edit the amount (in Gwei) manually, and the Etherscan gas tracker page can help you choose the right number based on how quickly you need the transaction to go through. While gas can be expensive on Ethereum, many other networks offer much lower costs (although they do so with less decentralization in many cases, but this is a complex topic that you can learn more about in our FA reports, for example). Finally, keep in mind that all transactions require paying a gas fee, except for signing messages (a feature that enables you to prove that you’re the owner of your wallet, for example on https://bridge.newscrypto.io/ ).
Sending tokens is as simple as clicking on the cryptocurrency of choice.
Followed by inputting all the amounts and information. Be sure to confirm all information about the transaction, especially the wallet address, amount, and gas.
If necessary speed up the transaction if you want it done quickly or if you used as little gas as possible and it hasn’t gone through ten minutes after the transaction was made.
Swapping tokens on MetaMask is relatively simple. Simply click on the token you wish to swap and then click on the swap option.
Next, select the token you want to swap to. If necessary, change the slippage rate. Finally, review the transaction and send it.
Adding New Tokens:
When receiving cryptocurrencies in a MetaMask wallet with the exception of Ether, it is necessary to add the token contract address. The process is relatively simple. In a trusted website that holds information on cryptocurrencies such as coingecko.com on the page displaying the cryptocurrency information, there is generally a contract address. You can see this on the right side of the image.
By clicking on the helpful little fox a pop-up will appear that will allow you to add the token.
After clicking on the “Add Token” button, it will automatically be added to MetaMask. If you already received tokens before adding the contract address these tokens will automatically appear in your wallet.
There is a multitude of networks available on MetaMask. To add new ones click on the top right
followed by settings
and finally networks.
Fill in the details to add the networks you wish to have on MetaMask.
Here are a few networks that are useful to know:
Network name: Polygon Mainnet
New RPC URL: https://polygon-rpc.com
Chain ID: 137
Currency Symbol: MATIC
Blockchain Explorer: https://Polygonscan.com
Binance Smart Chain Mainnet
ChainID: 0x38, 56 in decimal (if 56 doesn’t work, try 0x38)
Block Explorer: https://bscscan.com
New RPC URL: https://rpc.ftm.tools/ or https://rpcapi.fantom.network
Block Explorer URL: https://ftmscan.com/
Network Name: Arbitrum One
New RPC URL: https://arb1.arbitrum.io/rpc
Block Explorer URL: https://arbiscan.io
Sending cryptocurrency is as simple as clicking on the “send” option followed by choosing the asset you want, posting the address you want to send it to, and finally choosing that amount. After you are done with those steps all that’s left is to choose the gas fee, either via custom settings (not recommended for beginners, since your transaction can get stuck if you don’t set an appropriate gas fee) or by choosing the “slow” “average” or “fast” settings.
In this beginner’s guide, we learned how to set up a MetaMask wallet, how to send and receive cryptocurrency, adding networks, and an explanation of how gas works on the Ethereum network. MetaMask offers many other functionalities such as hardware wallet connection, running dApps, bridging over to different chains, storing NFTs, and many others! For more information you can consult the support section on https://MetaMask.io/ MetaMask also allows a user to connect to various tools and dApps which may be covered in how-tos further down the line.