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22.05.2022

Etherscan for Beginners: What It Is And How to Use It

One of the biggest selling points of NFTs is the transparency conferred by blockchain. We have heard it all before—transactions on the blockchain are public, anyone can view and/or verify the transactions, anyone can look up the trading history, and so on. But, how does one actually do all this? Surely, it must be something complicated that only tech-savvy individuals can navigate? Well, it’s not. Thanks to Etherscan, all Ethereum network users can discover all the above and more with a few clicks.

What Is Etherscan?

Etherscan is a block explorer and analytics platform for the Ethereum Blockchain. Essentially, it works as a search engine where users can find and validate transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. It can also help you to interact with smart contracts and detect any suspicious activities.

So, how does it do all this? Basically, Etherscan.io tracks transactions on the Ethereum network, indexes this information, and makes it available on its website.

Etherscan.io is a completely free platform developed by a group of people who wanted to make Ethereum more accessible. It’s independent and not funded or managed by the Ethereum Foundation. “Our mission is to facilitate Blockchain transparency by indexing and making searchable all transactions on the Ethereum Blockchain in the most transparent and accessible way possible,” the team notes.

It’s important to remember that Etherscan is not a wallet—it only serves as a source of information.

Etherscan website's homepage
The platform offers a range of useful tools.

What is Etherscan used for?

With a range of use cases up its sleeve, Etherscan has undoubtedly become one of the most popular tools among Ethereum users. Primarily, it allows users to view assets and transactions on any Ethereum wallet address. For instance, you may want to monitor the portfolio of a high-profile NFT holder. Conversely, you may want to track what a company or NFT project is doing with its funds.

Recently, GameStop dumped IMX tokens worth around $42 million, which it had received from Immutable X as part of a $100 million grant. It was Etherscan data that brought the incident to light. Similarly, tracking NFT projects’ transactions can help you detect any potential rug pulls or NFT scams.

Along with this, Etherscan is a great platform to discover and read NFT smart contracts. Understanding smart contracts are essential to ascertain the popularity of a project, its ownership rights, security audits, and much more. You can also discover the number of smart contracts a single wallet has authorized. This is useful in the event an anonymous developer, who rug pulled, creates a new project.

Another extremely useful feature of Etherscan is the gas tracker. As the name suggests, with the gas tracker, you can take note of the gas prices in real time. Simultaneously, it helps you gauge the network activity at a given period.

How To Use Etherscan: A Beginners Guide

Now that you know most of the uses of Etherscan, how exactly do you use it? First and foremost, you do not need to create an account on the platform to use most of its features. Neither do you have to connect your wallet. That said, creating an account on the platform will unlock certain additional features.

Let’s take a deep dive into the ways in which you can use Etherscan.

How To Find Gas Prices Using Their Ethereum Network Gas Tracker

Their handy gas tracker tool allows you to track real-time gas prices. Gas fees are basically transaction fees you must pay to get your Ethereum transaction approved. They can fluctuate massively on Ethereum due to high network traffic. In order to avoid paying exorbitant sums as transaction fees, you must check the real-time gas price and calculate the gas fees accordingly.

Etherscan's Ethereum Gas Tracker showing the gas prices
Ethereum Gas Tracker tracks gas prices in real-time. Credits: Etherscan.io

Luckily, Etherscan displays the current gas price in Gwei and in USD on their homepage. Then, clicking on the price will take you to the Ethereum Gas Tracker page. You can also find it under the ‘More’ drop-down menu on the top right to see the different gas prices at different times.

Incredibly, the site also tells you the estimated cost of transactions, the average transaction confirmation time, and the contracts/accounts that consume the highest gas. In addition, it has data on historical gas prices. Using all this information, you can time your transactions to pay the least gas fees possible.

Tracking Transactions on Etherscan

One of the primary features of Etherscan is to look up transactions and wallets. In other words, you can easily track transaction histories, token transfers, and more on the platform. Do you want to see which NFTs whales are buying before they get popular? Using Etherscan makes tracking NFT influencers easy. Do you want to see where a rug pull project sent all your Ether? Etherscan can do that too.

For example, say you want information on a particular transaction. Here are the steps to do that:

Step one: Find the transaction ID (TXID) or a transaction hash (TxHash). This is a unique string of letters and numbers that identifies a transaction on the blockchain.

Step Two:  Paste the ID into the Etherscan search bar at the top of the page and click “Search”

You will be redirected to a page where you can see all the details associated with that transaction. This includes the status of the transaction (successful, pending or failed), the number of the block in which the transaction was recorded, and the date and time at which the transaction was mined. You can also see the transaction fee, gas price, and the sender and recipient addresses.

Step Three (Optional): If you click ‘to see more’, you can get additional details like gas limit, gas fees, transaction type, and more.

NFT Transaction details
You can find the details of any Ethereum network transactions here.

How to Look Up Wallets, Transaction History and Track Whales

Just as you track a specific transaction, you can easily look up a particular wallet address. For this, type the wallet address on the search bar. On the page that opens up, you will be able to see the total ETH as well as the various tokens the wallet holds. At the bottom, you will see a list of all the transactions associated with the wallet. Corresponding to each transaction, you can find details such as method, block, from and to wallet addresses, value in ETH and transaction fee. You can click individual transactions for detailed information as described in the previous section.

How To Read and Interact With Smart Contracts Out on Etherscan

A smart contract is a digital contract made up of strings of code on the blockchain. These are automatically executed when certain pre-established conditions are met. When it comes to NFTs, a smart contract stores all the data of the assets, such as ownership and transaction details. Often, NFT smart contracts also specify certain rules and rights. As a result, it is essential for NFT collectors to carefully read the smart contract of a project before investing. This is where Etherscan can help. Along with finding the above information, you can even mint NFTs directly from the smart contract.

First things first—how do you find a smart contract? Some NFT projects will have their contract address on their official website. Simply paste this on Etherscan’s search bar for the smart contract data. If you don’t have the smart contract address, go to OpenSea and find the NFT you want. Then, scroll down to the ‘Details’ tab and find ‘Contract Address’.Clicking on this will automatically open the corresponding smart contract page on Etherscan. Alternatively, you can find the token address from CoinMarketCap or tokenson Etherscan, if available.

Reading a smart contract

Using Etherscan, you have the following information:

  • General information: Balance of coins held by the contract, wallet address of the creator, token, and more. If you are signed in to Etherscan, you can use ‘My Name Tag’ to add your private notes.
  • Tracker: Information about the token, including the minimum price, maximum total supply, and official website, among others.
  • Transactions: All the transactions pertaining to the smart contract.
  • Contract: This is where you will find all the details about the specific smart contract. While the ‘Code’ tab features the contract’s source code, ‘Read Contract’ provides the general contract information.

Plus, if you are the owner, you can interact with the contract under ‘Write contract’. Though, for that, you will have to connect your wallet.

write contract feature on Etherscan website
Using the write contract feature on Etherscan.

How To Customize Smart Contract Nicknames To Help Protect Your NFTs

By now, you must’ve heard of the various scams plaguing the NFT industry. Some of these are quite devious that you may not realise what happened until it’s too late. Often, many of these occur as your Metamask transactions that you didn’t authorise. With long, illegible contract names, it’s even harder to recognise a transaction you didn’t approve. Well, Etherscan can help you nickname the

Twitter user asherah.eth shared an easy tip to rename contracts to something simple and easily recognisable. Taking the example of BAYC, they explained the steps as below:

Step 1: Find the smart contract of the project you want (in this example, BAYC) on Etherscan.

Step 2: Use the ‘Write Contract’ tab (as explained in the previous section) and click  ‘Connect to Web3’.

  • This will open a dialogue box where you can connect your MetaMask wallet. If successfully connected, the ‘Connect to Web3’ option will change to ‘Connected – Web3’.

Step 3:  Pick any of the functions listed under the ‘connected’ option.

  • What you pick isn’t really significant as we don’t actually want to execute the function.

Step 4: Fill in the fields (if any), and click ‘write’.

  • Now, a MetaMask page will pop up, with the message “New address detected! Click here to add to your address book”.
new address detected message metamask
This is the message you’ll see in Metamask

Step 5: Click this message and it will open up a dialogue box with an ‘Add a nickname’ option.

Step 6: Select this option and add a simple, suitable name (for example ‘BAYC’). Then, click Save.

  • When done correctly, the address will now show up as BAYC instead of the previous string of letters and digits.

Step 7: Lastly, make sure to click ‘Reject’ to cancel the transaction. This is very important!!

Tweet from asherah.eth on safeguarding metamask
Tweet from asherah.eth via @AsherahEth.jpg

What this does is show you when you are interacting with that certain smart contract. So, if you didn’t plan to sell or transfer your BAYC NFT, seeing the name BAYC instead of a long string of numbers in MetaMask will make it easier to see it’s a scam and stop immediately.

How To Mint NFTs Directly From the Smart Contract

Usually, when a new NFT project goes live, collectors will mint NFTs from the project’s website. But, if it’s a hyped launch, chances are high for the website to slow down or crash due to increased traffic. In such cases, a better alternative is to mint the NFTs directly from the project’s smart contract on Etherscan. Some projects like Loot (for Adventurers) were exclusively minted from the contract! Even so, it is important to note that this option only works for new projects that have not yet sold out.

Here are the steps to mint from a smart contract:

Step 1: First things first—make sure you have enough ETH in your wallet to mint the NFT.

Step 2: Find the project’s smart contract on Etherscan.

  • Connect your wallet using the ‘Connect to Web3’ option as before.

Step 3: Select the mint contract function. Usually, this starts with ‘mint’ or ‘claim’. In BAYC’s case, for example, it is ‘mintApe’. As this differs for each project, make sure to select the correct function.

Step 4: Next, input the amount of ETH and the number of tokens you want to mint. Double-check to ensure that you gave the right details. Then, click ‘Write’.

Minting from the smart contract on Etherscan
An example of minting directly from the smart contract

Step 5: Lastly, confirm the transaction in the MetaMask dialogue box that pops up. And voila! Your mint is complete!

Other Features of The Leading Ethereum Blockchain Explorer

While the features listed above are the most important use cases of Etherscan, it offers plenty more. Take for example its application programming interfaces (API) services. Developers can sign up on the platform to use its APIs for free to create dApps. Then, it has a dedicated NFT tracker page that tracks all the NFT transactions on Ethereum.

On top of that, if you are looking for token analytics, then there’s an option for that as well! As Ethereum supports both the ERC-20 and ERC-721 standards, you can find the top tokens under each on Etherscan. There is also a Verified Contracts section featuring all Ethereum smart contracts with a verified source code. If you want an overview of the Ethereum market, then you can explore the Ethereum Charts & Statistics section. There is a slew of other features as well.

Ultimately, how you use Etherscan will depend on your need and interests. Whether you are a novice or a veteran, this easy to use tool will certainly come in handy.

source: nftevening.com