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What is Etherscan and How to Use It

Etherscan is the most popular resource for Ethereum users who want to search, verify and approve transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Etherscan touts itself as the ‘leading blockchain explorer, search, API and analytics platform for Ethereum.

The etherscan website allows its users to search through transactions, wallet addresses, smart contracts and other data on the Ethereum network. All interactions on Ethereum (ETH) are public, etherscan allows its users to view those interactions or transactions like a blockchain search engine. The website has grown in popularity with the emerging NFT market and the Ethereum networks ever growing smart contracts providing a rise in transactions on the network.

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Etherscan

Becoming familiar with etherscan can assist Ethereum users in understanding how the Ethereum network actually works and how you interact with dapps, other Ethereum wallets and smart contracts on the network. Understanding the fundamentals of etherscan can help you avoid crypto related scams and suspicious behavior.

How to use etherscan to verify transactions

Using etherscan is relatively easy and you does not require you to open an account or connect your Ethereum wallet for most of its features. You can create an account with etherscan if you choose too for added features like setting alerts for transactions or accessing developer tools and more. The most basic feature of etherscan is looking up a transaction for verification.

For example, lets say you purchased an NFT from the OpenSea NFT marketplace with your ethereum wallet and you sent 0.05 ETH (Ethereum) from your wallet to the owner of the NFTs wallet. You will receive an TXID (Transaction ID) for the transaction which is a long hexadecimal number. To view the details of the transaction you can use etherscan by:

  • You can paste this transaction ID into the search bar at the top of etherscan’s home page and click the search button
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etherescan search bar
  • Now you will be able to see all of the details for this transaction
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etherscan transaction search
  • You can also press “See More” for even further detail, however the basic details about the transaction will appear in the results displayed including:
    • Transaction Hash: This is the (TXID) or Transaction Identifier, it is made up of a long string of hexadecimal characters.
    • Status: This tells you whether the transaction was successful, has failed or is currently in progress.
    • Block: This shows the block number your transaction was included in. It also shows how many times your transaction was confirmed.
    • Timestamp: This shows the timestamp of the block your transaction was added too.
    • From: This is the Ethereum wallet address that made the transaction.
    • To: This is the receiving address or smart contract for the transaction.
    • Value: The amount of ETH sent in the transaction
    • Transaction Fee: This is the fee paid for making the transaction, referred to as Ethereum Gas Fee
    • Gas Price: This is the cost per unit of gas for the transaction

The most important item is typically the status, as you can see in the example above that transaction was successful. You can also check the status of the transaction by pasting into the search bar the receiving Ethereum wallet address.

How to use etherscan to find smart contracts

It can be useful to look up smart contracts via etherscan when using different DApps (Decentralized Applications). It can protect you when you are sending funds if you can verify the smart contract address you may be sending ETH to is the correct address and not an imposter address.

If you were adding a new token to your MetaMask Ethereum wallet, you would need to have that token’s smart contract address. The tokens smart contract address holds the tokens coding, which details how the token functions. In order to find out a particular tokens smart contract address, you can go to CoinGecko or CoinMarketCap and lookup the token you would want to add, the websites will show you the correct smart contract for the token, however be careful to copy and paste it correctly. Etherscan will only work with ERC-20 compatible tokens.

In this example we will review the token “Shiba Inu” contract address location from CoinGecko:

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CoinGecko – Shiba Inu contract
  • Copy and paste that smart contract into etherscans search box on the homepage and hit search.
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Etherscan – Shiba Inu contract address
  • You can now view all the details regarding the Shiba Inu token contract.
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Etherscan – Shiba Inu Token Contract
  • You can also see below the transactions for Shiba Inu and the smart contract coding itself via the contract tab, read button.
  • also on the contract tab, you can write to the contract itself. This can be helpful if a DApp or NFT contract where down, you can get to the contract via this option and connect your Ethereum wallet via the “Connect Wallet” button to interact with the contract.
Etherscan, Shiba Inu coin, shiba inu token, etherscan shib
Etherscan – Shiba Inu Write Contract

Checking Ethereum gas prices on etherscan

Gas fees are fees on transactions paid by the Ethereum user. They can vary depending upon the transaction price and the time of the transaction as traffic levels on the Ethereum blockchain also decide gas prices. Etherscan provides its users with a ‘gas tracker’ which will show you the differences in price and time to complete the transaction at the different gas prices. It is a great tool to be able to see how much traffic is on the Ethereum blockchain and also see what you may likely pay for a transaction at that time.

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Ethereum Gas Tracker – ETH Gas Fees

Etherscan final thoughts

Etherscan provided a ton of great tools for Ethereum users. It can be called the swiss army knife of Ethereum utility websites as in addition to all the functionality discussed above, users can also check charts regarding Ethereum network and performance, view and set alerts for large transactions by crypto (whales), even track NFT transactions and much more.

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