Read an important announcement about Bitcoin from Bitcoin.com.
One of the very first things you may encounter when you begin using Bitcoin Core (BTC) is a block explorer. This article will help you understand what it is, how to use the Bitcoin.com block explorer, and provide you with other helpful tips and information to get you going down the path of discovering and understanding Bitcoin Core and the blockchain.
(Update: Bitcoin Core is less usable as money due to much higher fees and delayed transaction times. The Core team has also expressed an interest in keeping these fees high since they view BTC as a “store-of-value” and not something to be transacted on a daily basis. In contrast, Bitcoin Cash’s transaction fees cost pennies and payments can be validated even with zero confirmations. These facts make BCH the ideal cryptocurrency for sending and receiving money anywhere in the world.)
Learning the Basics
To start off, you may be wondering what is a Bitcoin Core block explorer? As the name implies, it allows anyone to search or explore the BTC blockchain using an application in order to navigate all the block data found within the blockchain. You may want to search the blockchain for several reasons, such as checking a BTC address or balance, viewing transaction history, seeing recent blocks, and more. Think of a block explorer as a search engine but made specifically for the Bitcoin Core blockchain. If you aren’t familiar yet with what a blockchain is, you may want read this. For other helpful terms and definitions, please see the Bitcoin Glossary.
Using the Bitcoin Explorer
When you first begin to use our block explorer, you may get to it from another source and end up on an unfamiliar page. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will walk you through it from the main home page. On the main home page, it may resemble a search engine as described above. You will see a search field to search by addresses, transactions or even block hashes. You will also see latest block information and transactions. Pictured below is the block explorer with blue areas highlighting some of the key points of interest.
In the image starting from the top left,
- You can toggle to-and-from different blockchains such as Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core. You can do this throughout the site at anytime to switch blockchains.
- On the top right, there are a few options such as a QR scanner to read QR codes, a Cash Address toggle (for the Bitcoin Cash blockchain only), a currency toggle and a language selection tool.
- Directly in the middle of the page is the search tool. Here you will begin typically by copying and pasting a Bitcoin address or transaction id to the field to begin searching.
- The bottom lower section you will be able to see recent block and transaction data and if you click into any of the links you can see more details.
To provide another example, if you click into any of the recent transactions by clicking view details, you will see a page that is similar to this one below.
There are essentially two main sections when viewing transaction details using the block explorer.
- The top section will show you a summary on the left with important information such as how many confirmations the transaction has and the transaction size.
- The top section will also show you on the right the total value including fees and fees per byte.
- In the bottom section you will see the transaction details, such as what the sending and receiving addresses are, how much was transacted, and again how many confirmations the transaction has.
Other Helpful Tips
Here are some pro-tips to get you going and becoming a blockchain explorer master.
- When viewing transaction details like in the example provided above, you can always see where the transaction is coming from by looking left-to-right. The transaction sender is on the left, and the receiver [address] is on the right. The change address is below the receiver address, placed on the bottom right of each transaction.
- For more advanced users, when viewing transaction details, if you hover over the addresses in the bottom section you will see an information-icon; click on it to view the transaction OPcodes and scripts.
- Another tip when you are looking at Bitcoin Core addresses on the explorer, for example this famous address associated to Satoshi Nakamoto, in the “Amount” column you can quickly toggle between currencies by clicking on the amount denominations. You can do the same thing in the “Fees” column as well.