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Account Generation

An address is the public part of a Polkadot account. The private part is the key used to access this address. The public and private parts together make up a Polkadot account.

There are several ways to generate a Polkadot account:

If you prefer video instructions for creating an account using Polkadot JS, we have an easy to follow guide for beginners on YouTube

DISCLAIMER: Key Security

The only ways to get access to your account are via your secret seed or your account's JSON file in combination with a password. You must keep them both secure and private. If you share them with anyone they will have full access to your account, including all of your funds. This information is a target for hackers and others with bad intentions - see also How to Recognize Scams.

On this page, we recommend a variety of account generation methods that have various convenience and security tradeoffs. Please review this page carefully before making your account so that you understand the risks of the account generation method you choose and how to properly mitigate them in order to keep your funds safe.

Storing your key safely

The seed is your key to the account. Knowing the seed allows you, or anyone else who knows the seed, to re-generate and control this account.

It is imperative to store the seed somewhere safe, secret, and secure. If you lose access to your account (i.e. you forget the password for your account's JSON file), you can re-create it by entering the seed. This also means that somebody else can have control over your account if they have access to your seed.

For maximum security, the seed should be written down on paper or another non-digital device and stored in a safe place. You may also want to protect your seed from physical damage, as well (e.g. by storing in a sealed plastic bag to prevent water damage, storing it in a fireproof safe, etching it in metal, etc.) It is recommended that you store multiple copies of the seed in geographically separate locations (e.g., one in your home safe and one in a safety deposit box at your bank).

You should not store your seed on any kind of computer that has or may have access to the internet in the future.

Storing your account's JSON file

The JSON file is encrypted with a password, which means you can import it into any wallet which supports JSON imports, but to then use it, you need the password. You don't have to be as careful with your JSON file's storage as you would with your seed (i.e. it can be on a USB drive near you), but remember that in this case, your account is only as secure as the password you used to encrypt it. Do not use easy to guess or hard to remember passwords. It is good practice to use a mnemonic password of four to five words. These are nearly impossible for computers to guess due to the number of combinations possible, but much easier for humans to remember.

Polkadot{.js} Browser Extension

The Polkadot{.js} Extension provides a reasonable balance of security and usability. It provides a separate local mechanism to generate your address and interact with Polkadot.

This method involves installing the Polkadot{.js} plugin and using it as a “virtual vault," separate from your browser, to store your private keys. It also allows the signing of transactions and similar functionality.

It is still running on the same computer you use to connect to the internet with and thus is less secure than using Parity Signer or other air-gapped approaches.

Install the Browser Extension

The browser extension is available for both Google Chrome (and Chromium-based browsers like Brave) and FireFox.

If you would like to know more or review the code of the plugin yourself, you can visit the Github source repository.

After installing the plugin, you should see the orange and white Polkadot{.js} logo in the menu bar of your browser.

plugin-02

Create Account

Open the Polkadot{.js} browser extension by clicking the logo on the top bar of your browser. You will see a browser popup, not unlike the one below.

Initial PolkadotJS popup

Click the big plus button or select "Create new account" from the small plus icon in the top right. The Polkadot{.js} plugin will then use system randomness to make a new seed for you and display it to you in the form of twelve words.

New seed

You should back up these words as explained above. It is imperative to store the seed somewhere safe, secret, and secure. If you cannot access your account via Polkadot{.js} for some reason, you can re-enter your seed through the "Add account menu" by selecting "Import account from pre-existing seed".

New seed

Name Account

The account name is arbitrary and for your use only. It is not stored on the blockchain and will not be visible to other users who look at your address via a block explorer. If you're juggling multiple accounts, it helps to make this as descriptive and detailed as needed.

Enter Password

The password will be used to encrypt this account's information. You will need to re-enter it when using the account for any kind of outgoing transaction or when using it to cryptographically sign a message.

Note that this password does NOT protect your seed phrase. If someone knows the twelve words in your mnemonic seed, they still have control over your account even if they do not know the password.

Set Address for Polkadot Mainnet

Now we will ensure that the addresses are displayed as Polkadot mainnet addresses.

Click on "Options" at the top of the plugin window, and under "Display address format for" select "Polkadot Relay Chain".

New seed

Your address' format is only visual - the data used to derive this representation of your address are the same, so you can use the same address on multiple chains. However, for privacy reasons, we recommend creating a new address for each chain you're using.

Our Accounts page also has a tool you can use to convert your address between the different chain formats.

You can copy your address by clicking on the account's icon while the desired chain format is active. E.g. selecting "Substrate" as the format will change your address to start with the number 5, and clicking the colorful icon of your account will copy it in that format. While in Polkadot mode (starts with 1), that format will be copied, and so on.

Subkey

Subkey is recommended for technically advanced users who are comfortable with the command line and compiling Rust code. Subkey allows you to generate keys on any device that can compile the code. Subkey may also be useful for automated account generation using an air-gapped device. It is not recommended for general users.

For detailed build and usage instructions of subkey, please see here.

subkey-01

Polkadot-JS Apps

Please note! If you use this method to create your account and clear your cookies in your browser, your account will be lost forever if you do not back it up. Make sure you store your seed phrase in a safe place, or download the account's JSON file if using the Polkadot{.js} browser extension. Learn more about account backup and restoration here.

Using the Polkadot-JS user interface without the plugin is not recommended. It is the least secure way of generating an account. It should only be used if all of the other methods are not feasible in your situation.

Go to Polkadot-JS Apps

Navigate to Polkadot-JS Apps and click on "Accounts" underneath the Accounts tab. It is located in the navigation bar at the top of your screen.

pjs-01

To create an account on a different network than Polkadot, you'll need to click on the network selection in the top left corner of the navigation menu. A pop-up sidebar will appear listing live, testing, and custom node to choose from. Do remember to hit the "Switch" button when you want to switch your network.

Start Account Generation

Click on the "Add Account" button. You should see a pop-up similar to the process encountered when using the Polkadot JS Extension method above. Follow the same instructions and remember to store your seed safely!

Create and Back-Up Account

Click “Save” and your account will be created. It will also generate a backup JSON file that you should safely store, ideally on a USB off the computer you're using. You should not store it in cloud storage, email it to yourself, etc.

You can use this backup file to restore your account. This backup file is not readable unless it is decrypted with the password.

Multi-signature Accounts

Multi-signature accounts are accounts created from several standard accounts (or even other multi-sig accounts). For a full explanation, please see the Accounts Explainer section on multi-sigs.

On the Accounts tab, click the Multisig button. Enter the threshold and add signatories. The threshold must be less than or equal to the number of signatories. The threshold indicates how many members must agree for an extrinsic submission to be successful. Click Create when done.

Multi-sig account creation

This merely calculates the multi-signature's address and adds it to your UI. The account does not exist yet, and is subject to the same Existential Deposit and Reaping rules as regular accounts.

Suppose we funded it with some tokens, and now want to send from the multi-sig to another account.

Sending from multi-sig account

The next step is to sign the transaction from with enough accounts to meet the threshold; in the above case, two out of three signatories must sign.

Signing from multi-sig account

There is currently no indication of a pending transaction from a multi-sig in the UI. This means the second signatory must repeat the call in full in order to sign it. In other words:

  • if Alice initiates a transaction from the multi-sig to Ferdie for 150 tokens, there will be a pending transaction in the chain.
  • if Bob initiates a transaction from the multi-sig to Ferdie for 250 tokens, there will be another pending transaction in the chain, and the first one will not complete.
  • because the threshold is 2/3, Charlie can now finalize either or both of these by repeating the desired transaction.

Other calls work the same - if a multi-sig wants to become a Council member, the candidacy request has to come from the multi-sig, but be signed (re-requested) from each signatory until the threshold is reached.

Signatories should communicate off-chain to prevent many pending transactions and crossed communication lines on-chain.

The bigger the multisig, the more of a deposit an account needs to put down when initiating a multi-sig call. This is to prevent chain storage spam with pending but never-resolved multi-sig transactions. Once a call is resolved (canceled or executed) the deposit is returned to the initiator. The deposit is not taken from the multi-sig's balance but from the initiator.

For a more in-depth introduction into multi-signature accounts on Polkadot, please see the accounts page section on Multi-sigs.

Parity Signer

Parity Signer is a secure way of storing your DOT on an air-gapped device. It is highly recommended that you turn off wifi, cellular network, Bluetooth, NFC, and any other communications methods after installing it. The device needs to be offline and only you should be viewing the device screen. If you have any communications methods turned on, you will see an "unshielded" icon in red in the top-right corner that indicates your connection may not be secure.

Create Account

Click "Create" to create an identity, or "recover" if you have previously backed up the recovery phrase. You can have multiple identities on one device. Each identity can manage multiple addresses on different networks.

Parity Signer Create Account 1

Name Account

Input the name for your identity and then click "Create".

Parity Signer Create Account 2

Back Up Account

Parity Signer will then generate a recovery phrase for you and display it in the form of 12 or 24 words.

You should write down this recovery phrase on paper and store it somewhere safe.

Parity Signer Create Account 3

Set PIN

After confirming that you have backed up your seed, a new textbox will appear in which you can set a PIN. The PIN code should contain at least 6 digits. If the PIN codes do not match, it will not allow you to create an account. The PIN code will be used when signing any transaction, or to protect sensitive operations such as deleting an identity or revealing the recovery phrase.

Note that if someone knows the 12/24 words in your recovery phrase, they will still have control over your account, even if they do not know the PIN.

Parity Signer Create Account 4

Get Address

Choose which network you would like to create an address for by clicking the name of the network. For example, if you select "Polkadot", a new Polkadot address will be created for you under this identity.

Parity Signer Create Account 5

There is currently no way to copy your address from Parity signer in plain text in order to send it via text or email. You must use the QR method.

Your Address

The address will be shown as a QR code. You can import your address to the Polkadot-JS Apps by going to the Accounts page on an Internet-connected computer and click "Add via QR", and following the instructions to add the account. An account created this way will always require you to sign messages with your Parity Signer device. It will do this only by scanning and displaying QR codes, leaving even someone with total control of your internet-connected computer has a very small and limited scope for interacting with the Parity Signer device, which can continue to keep your key safe.

Parity Signer Create Account 6

Ledger Hardware Wallet

To use a Ledger hardware wallet to create your address and keep your tokens in cold storage, follow the instructions on our Ledger hardware wallet guide page.

Vanity Generator

The vanity generator is a tool on Polkadot-JS UI that lets you generate addresses that contain a specific substring.

Vanity Generator page

The vanity generator takes the following parameters:

  • "Search for": The substring that you would like to include in your new address.
  • "case sensitive": "Yes" if the search is case sensitive; "no" if not.
  • "keypair crypto type": Specifies the type of account you'd like to generate; Schnorrkel is recommended in most cases for its security.

If you've filled out all details above and hit the "Start generation" button, a list of accounts will start generating on your screen. Note that depending on the length of the substring and the processing speed of your computer, it may take some time before any accounts appear.

Vanity Generator search

The "Save" button will allow you to save the generated accounts - they are not saved if you do not choose to do this. The next steps are identical to the steps above on creating an account on the UI, where a password and name need to be filled in, and a backup file of your account will be downloaded.

Note that the Subkey tool also has vanity generation built-in, and is orders of magnitude faster than the web version. If you need to generate addresses with longer strings, or need plenty of them, we recommend using Subkey instead.

Vanity Generator chosen address