Probably one of the most “uncomfortable” issues about Bitcoin is the fact that your Bitcoin address looks like you just made up a bunch of random numbers and characters. Luckily there are a few ways you can customize your Bitcoin address so it will look more appealing. None of the ways I will present in this post will be perfect but you can choose the one the suits you the most.
Option #1 – 3rd party fully customized name
Onename.io is a service that claims to be “your digital passport around the web”. By creating a simple username of Onename (for example mine is simply “Ofir”), you can have people send you Bitcoins to that username. Unfortunately this will only work with wallets that are compatible with the Onename API and there aren’t many at the moment.
This is the equivalent of having a username at Coinabse for example and then being restricted to using it only when someone sends you Bitcoins through Coinbase. So the pros are very obvious – it’s easy to use and the name looks pretty. The cons are that you don’t have full control over you private key (which is a big no no in the Bitcoin world) and that you are restricted to specific wallets that can send you money.
Option #2 – Use a vanity address generator
A Vanity address is just a Bitcoin address that has some desirable pattern on characters so it looks a bit better. You’d usually only be able to customize just a small number of characters and not the whole address so you can insert your first name or a nickname. Here are some examples:
You still have to follow the Bitcoin address limitation which means that your public address will start with “1” and creating these addresses takes some computing power (since you need to “guess” them, they are not just created).
Using such a tool may be easy but it has 2 major cons – the 1st is that if someone else creates your public address for you it means that they also know your private key and can control any Bitcoins you send to that address. The 2nd is that it usually costs money.
Option #3 – Create a vanity address on your own
If you still want to create your own vanity address but not take on the risk of someone knowing your private key you can create one by yourself. Before I start explaining to you how to create this I want you to know:
1. This process requires a Windows computer. You can also do it on a mac but it’s much more complicated.
2. I would like to thank Neil Sardesai for his excellent article in CryptoCoinsNews which I base this tutorial on.
3. The process is technical. I will walk you through it, but it may seem a bit daunting for someone who is not technical in nature.
In order to create a customized Bitcoin public address we will need to find the right private key. This can only be done through what is know as “brute force” (basically guessing until we hit the right combination). Brute force requires computing power so we will need to put our computer to work for this.
Step 1: Download VanityGen
We’ll start by downloading a program called “Vantiygen“. Once you open the ZIP file you’ve downloaded you should see the following content:
Since I’m assuming that most of the readers of this post are less technical we will choose the “VanityGen” or “VanityGen64″ in order to utilize our CPU for this task.
Step 2: Run VanityGen
Open up a command prompt window by hitting “Start” -> “Run”, then typing “cmd” and press “OK”.
Next you will need to either write the path of the file or just drag the EXE file into the black cmd window (works only from Windows 7 and up). If you’re using a 64bit computer then choose VanityGen64.
Once you press Enter you’ll see a list of options VanityGen supplies. We will now want to run VanityGen in order to brute force our address. So again put in the VanityGen file path but this time add “-v -i [5-6 characters you’d like for your address starting with 1]”.
So for example I can write ” -v -i 1cool” or ” -v -i 1test” like written in the example below.
Notice that the “-v” is for requesting an output with words. The “-i” is for requesting it to be case insensitive (which takes less time to calculate). The longer the output you request the longer it will take the program to find the right address. Once you’ll hit Enter you’ll see something like this:
The information at the bottom means the following:
Kkey/s – Is the speed that the program is working in.
Prob – The probability of stumbling upon your requested address at that given moment.
The last set of numbers means that in 30.3 seconds the probability will be 50%. Depending on how lucky you are you’ll receive your address somewhere between 50% and 100% probability. When the calculation is done you’ll see the following:
You can see the public address and the private key at the bottom. If you want to use this address you’ll need to import this private key into your Bitcoin wallet. For more information on Vanity Addresses check out this BitcoinTalk thread.
Have a cool address you’ve already created ? Paste it in the comment section below so we can see how creative you are…