What is Etherscan and How To Use It
Etherscan is the most widely used blockchain explorer for the Ethereum blockchain - but getting to grips with it isn’t always easy. Learn about blockchain explorers and how to use Etherscan in our guide.
What is Etherscan?
Etherscan.io is a blockchain explorer for Ethereum. You can use Etherscan to explore transactions on the Ethereum blockchain including transaction history, address information, block information, token information, smart contracts, and more.
What is a blockchain explorer?
A blockchain explorer is a tool used by crypto investors, analysts, and enthusiasts to view all the information on a given blockchain including transactions, addresses, gas fees, and more - effectively letting you read the blockchain.
How does Etherscan work?
Etherscan works by interacting with the Ethereum blockchain and its data to provide users with an easy way to read the Ethereum blockchain. It essentially has three steps, which put simply, are:
Retrieving Ethereum data in real-time
Maintaining an organized data record
Presenting near real-time data to users
To understand Etherescan in more depth, we need to know about three things: RPC, nodes, and RPC endpoints.
RPC (Remote procedure call): RPC is a way for one computer program to talk to another. In Ethereum, we use a special kind of RPC called JSON-RPC. Etherscan uses this to get information from the Ethereum network.
Blockchain nodes: Ethereum stores all its data on special computers called nodes. They are like the servers for the Ethereum network. But regular software can't talk directly to these nodes.
RPC endpoints: Think of RPC endpoints as virtual addresses. When Etherscan wants to ask for data or do something on the Ethereum network, it sends a request to an RPC endpoint. This endpoint then gets the information from the Ethereum nodes.
So, Etherscan uses the JSON-RPC API to send requests to RPC endpoints (which are Ethereum nodes), and these endpoints send back the latest data to Etherscan. Because Etherscan serves many users, it uses several RPC endpoints to make sure it gets updates in near real-time.
What is Etherscan used for?
Now you get how it works, you’re probably wondering why someone would use Etherscan. Etherscan offers many valuable insights for investors, which we can roughly group into three broad categories.
Explore wallet addresses
Etherscan allows users to explore Ethereum-based wallet addresses. You can easily look up a wallet address to check its holdings of ETH, as well as other ERC-20 tokens like Shiba Inu or Tether and NFTs (ERC-721 tokens).
For a deeper dive, you can click on any transaction ID in the transaction history section. This takes you to an individual transaction page where you can find detailed information such as ETH spent on gas, the smart contract involved, the recipient's wallet address, transaction timestamp, date, and amount.
Etherscan also provides wallet analytics and charts to help you assess a wallet's activity over time.
View transactions and blocks
Beyond personal wallets, Etherscan offers tools to analyze the Ethereum network as a whole. This includes data on Ether (ETH) price, market capitalization, average gas prices, transaction speed, and network upgrades.
Etherscan maintains a comprehensive record of all Ethereum blocks and transactions, offering network analytics, charts, statistics, and node-related information.
View smart contracts
Smart contracts contain extensive data, and Etherscan allows users to access and explore it. You can search for a specific smart contract and find details such as the crypto wallet responsible for deploying it on Ethereum.
Additionally, Etherscan provides information about the contract's code, deployment date, time, block height, and total token supply. It also lists token holders and their respective shares, along with the contract's transaction history and associated wallet details.
How to use Etherscan
If you’ve not used it before, all the information can be a bit overwhelming, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how to read Etherscan.
How to use Etherscan to view wallets and transaction history
1. Go to Etherscan.io
2. Paste the wallet address (or ENS domain) into the search bar on the homepage
3. On the next page, you can see the balance, the tokens held, and the transactions made with that wallet.
4. You can then click on any transaction hash to see more details about that transaction like gas paid, other addresses involved, and more.
To view a wallet balance on a specific date or block height, use Etherscan’s Balance Checker.
How to use Etherscan to check gas fees
Go to gas tracker
Find the kind of transaction you’re making under additional info and check the current rate (low/average/high)
How to use Etherscan to view smart contracts
1. Go to Etherscan.io
2. You can either search for the specific protocol you’re looking for or paste the contract address into the search bar - in this example, we’ll use Tether
3. Select the contract tab
4. You’ll see three new tabs: code, read contract, and write contract- if you select the connect to Web3 option, you’ll be able to connect your wallet and interact with the contract (please note this option is in BETA)
Read next: What is BscScan and How To Use It
Your frequently asked questions...
Do users need an account to use Etherscan?
No, Etherscan is an open and free-to-use platform, and you can access most of its features without creating an account. However, creating a free account on Etherscan gives you four major benefits: private notes, API access, personalized address watchlist, and alerts and notifications.
Can Etherscan track Bitcoin?
Is it free to use Etherscan?
Yes, Etherscan is free to use. However, when you interact with a smart contract on Ethereum through Etherscan, you will still have to pay a gas fee.
What can Etherscan be used for?
Etherscan can be used for various purposes, including exploring wallet addresses, reading transaction and block details, interacting with smart contracts, tracking token prices, monitoring gas fees, and more.
How to check wallet balances and history on Etherscan?
To check wallet balances and history on Etherscan, go to Etherscan.io, navigate to the search bar, paste the wallet address or ENS domain, and press Enter. On the next page, you can see the ETH balance, total token value, and transaction history.
Can Etherscan be used on testnets?
Yes, Etherscan supports testnets. Users can explore and analyze transactions on Ethereum testnets, such as Ropsten or Rinkeby, using Etherscan's testnet version.
What information can I find by reading smart contracts on Etherscan?
Reading smart contracts on Etherscan provides information such as the contract code, deployment date and time, block height, total token supply, token holders, and transaction history associated with the contract.
How do I interact with a smart contract using Etherscan?
To interact with a smart contract on Etherscan, find the contract address, paste it into the Etherscan search bar, open the contract page, go to "Write Contract," connect to Web3 using your wallet, choose a function, enter required details, and execute the transaction.
What are the benefits of creating an account on Etherscan?
Creating a free account on Etherscan provides benefits such as adding private notes to transactions, accessing APIs to build decentralized applications (dApps), creating a personalized address watchlist, and setting up alerts for on-chain activities.
How does Etherscan improve security in the Ethereum ecosystem?
Etherscan enhances security by offering transparency into different contracts and tokens. Users can track transactions, identify scam contracts, and trace assets, contributing to a safer environment within the Ethereum ecosystem.