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A Guide To Bitcoin Addresses

What is a Bitcoin Wallet Address?

You can think of a Bitcoin wallet address like a mailing address. It’s a possible destination for a bitcoin payment. These public addresses are NOT public keys. It’s common to confuse the two, but they are completely different. Your wallet uses your private key to create a public key. It then hashes your public key to generate an address.


What is an example of a Bitcoin Address, and what is the format?

A Bitcoin address looks like random text, but its format usually begins with a 1, 3, or bc1. Here are some examples of Bitcoin addresses:

  • 17VZNX1SN5NtKa8UQFxwQbFeFc3iqRYhem

  • 1JqDybm2nWTENrHvMyafbSXXtTk5Uv5QAn

  • 3EktnHQD7RiAE6uzMj2ZifT9YgRrkSgzQX

  • 3279PyBGjZTnu1GNSXamReTj98kiYgZdtW

  • bc1qw508d6qejxtdg4y5r3zarvary0c5xw7kv8f3t4

  • bc1qa5wkgaew2dkv56kfvj49j0av5nml45x9ek9hz6

Though other prefixes exist, 1, 3, and bc1 are the most common and relevant to users.

Why Does My Bitcoin Address Change?

Depending on your software, you might notice that your Bitcoin address often changes. Don't worry, this is standard practice and good for your privacy and security! Changing addresses can be confusing to new users. They expect their Bitcoin address to stay the same, like their home address. But Bitcoin addresses are more like tissues - they're disposable for each transaction. Reusing Bitcoin addresses is not "sanitary" for your privacy and security.

Again, the Bitcoin blockchain and all transactions recorded on it are public. Whoever receives bitcoin from you can see your address and its history. If you reuse the same address, they can easily find out your Bitcoin savings and more by using a block explorer. So you should avoid reusing addresses. Fortunately, BIP32 hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallets make this very easy. The HD wallet topic is outside the scope of this blog post. But in short, these wallets generate a ton of addresses for you using a single private key, and are now the standard. Make sure not to confuse HD wallets with hardware wallets.

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