Best Bitcoin Desktop Wallets Review and Comparison

Last updated: 7/4/19

Desktop wallets are programs that store and manage the private key for your Bitcoins on your computer’s hard drive. In this post, I will review the most popular desktop wallets around for Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Bitcoin Desktop Wallets Summary

There’s a wide variety of Bitcoin desktop wallets around, each one has a different edge. For beginner’s the best wallet would probably be Exodus. The wallet with most security options would be Armory, while Bitcoin Core’s wallet verifies each transaction with a full copy of the blockchain. The winner in all categories overall is Electrum.

Here are the best Bitcoin desktop wallets:

Electrum
Type:
SPV
Beginner friendly:
No
Platforms:
Desktop only
Exodus
Type:
SPV
Beginner friendly:
Yes
Platforms:
Desktop, mobile
Bitcoin Core
Type:
Full node
Beginner friendly:
No
Platforms:
Desktop only
Atomic Wallet
Type:
SPV
Beginner friendly:
Yes
Platforms:
Desktop, mobile

That’s Bitcoin desktop wallets in a nutshell. If you want a more detailed review of the different desktop wallets keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:

  1. Desktop Wallets Overview
  2. Electrum
  3. Exodus
  4. Bitcoin Core
  5. Atomic Wallet
  6. Copay
  7. Armory
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Conclusion


1. Desktop Wallets Overview

By design, desktop wallets are more secure than mobile wallets (since they’re harder to steal) and less secure than hardware wallets.

If you’re new to the world of Bitcoin and wallets, I strongly advise that you watch this video so this post will make more sense:

Desktop wallets are considered “hot wallets”, since they are connected to the Internet. This makes them inherently insecure. However, for small amounts of Bitcoin or altcoins, they are a good solution.

For large amounts of Bitcoin ALWAYS use cold storage wallets (i.e. wallets that aren’t connected to the Internet) like a paper wallet or hardware wallet.


2. Electrum – The All Around Winner

Platforms: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.

It took me a while to start using Electrum, but once I did, I never looked back.

I’ll start with the downside – Electrum is ugly. The interface looks like a 90’s version of Windows. Also, if you’re completely new to Bitcoin, I have the feeling you’ll get lost pretty quickly due to the unfriendly interface. Electrum desktop wallet

However, once you get over the interface issues, Electrum is one of the most robust, effective and secure desktop wallets out there.

Also, it’s open source, meaning many people have taken part in reviewing and composing the code. This reduces the chance of malicious code inside the software to practically zero.

In times when the Bitcoin network is “crowded” and transaction fees can skyrocket, Electrum is one of the few wallets that allows you to replace the fee you’ve set to an already broadcasted transaction. This feature is very handy when you can’t get your transaction to confirm.

Additional features include address tagging, fee adjustments, encrypting your wallet and signing/verifying messages (this is an advanced feature).

Bottom line, this is an excellent desktop wallet. If you understand Bitcoin good enough to use it, go for it. 

Visit Electrum Read Review


3. Exodus – The pretty desktop wallet

Platforms: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.

If you’re just getting started with Bitcoin and you’re still trying to wrap your head around everything that’s going on, Exodus has got you covered. Exodus launched in July 2016 and since then has gained some serious momentum.

exodus desktop wallet

Again, I’ll start with the downside – it’s not open source. This means that the developers can potentially insert malicious code into the software without you knowing about it. And of course, when it comes to money, having a closed source program can raise some concerns.

However, since in any case, I suggest you use desktop wallets for small amounts of Bitcoin (closed or open source), then this is not a big issue in my book. I never put an amount I’m not willing to risk in any hot wallet (desktop, mobile or web).

Exodus also allows you to hold a variety of altcoins such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and more. The interface is super easy to understand and even total newbies will get the hang of it. If you find electrum to be daunting, this is a great alternative. Exodus is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Visit Exodus Read Review


4. Bitcoin Core – A full Bitcoin node

Platforms: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.

All of the wallets I’ve covered so far are known as SPV wallets or lite wallets. This means that they don’t have a full copy of the blockchain in order to verify transactions – they rely on other computers on the network to give them transaction information.

Bitcoin Core is a full node Bitcoin wallet. This means that once you download the wallet, you will also download the whole blockchain to your computer. This can get really messy as the blockchain’s size is a few hundred Gigabytes and can take some time to download.

However, once the Blockchain is downloaded you can start independently verifying transactions on the network. You no longer need to trust anyone else in the system. Or as Bitcoiners like to say “don’t trust, verify”.

bitcoin core

In all honesty, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle unless you’re super paranoid. You can gain some educational value by completing this process, but for day to day transactions and use, Bitcoin SPV wallets are completely fine. 

Visit Bitcoin Core To be Reviewed


5. Atomic Wallet – The Multi-currency Option

Platforms: Mac OS, and Windows, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora.

If you’re looking for an easy to use desktop wallet to store not only Bitcoin you can take a look at Atomic Wallet. Atomic Wallet is a multi-currency wallet that allows you to store up to 500 different coins and tokens in a single interface.

Atomic Wallet

The wallet also allows you to use Atomic Swaps in order to exchange between certain cryptocurrencies directly from within the wallet without the need for an exchange. For coins that don’t support Atomic Swaps there’s the option to use built in services like Changelly or ShapeShift to conduct trades.

Visit Atomic Wallet To be Reviewed

6. Copay – A Multisig Bitcoin Desktop Wallet

Platforms: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.

Copay is a wallet created by BitPay, one of the largest Bitcoin payment service providers around. The wallet is available for most major platforms (mobile and desktop) and is a multisig wallet.

Multisig means that you can have the wallet require an X amount of people to sign off on each transaction in order to broadcast it to the network. Using Copay’s multisig feature allows you extra security against theft and could be a good option if you can’t afford a hardware wallet.

Copay’s code is open source and has been around since 2014.

Visit Copay Read Review


7. Armory – The Desktop Vault

Platforms: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows, Ubuntu and RaspberriPi.

Armory is a well-known and trusted brand when it comes to Bitcoin security, though the wallet is usually best suited for more advanced users.

If you are looking for a wallet that emphasizes safety and security, Armory should make the short list as the wallet features a variety of encryption and cold-storage options.

Bitcoin Armory

Armory is among the most respected brands when it comes to Bitcoin security

Visit Armory To be Reviewed


8. Frequently Asked Questions

How do I Transfer Money to My Bitcoin Wallet?

  1. Open your wallet
  2. Find your Bitcoin address (long string of letters and characters that starts with 1 or 3)
  3. Send Bitcoin to your wallet address
  4. Wait for 3 confirmations (recommended but not necessary)

How do I Transfer Money from My Bitcoin Wallet to My Bank Account?

Banks don’t accept Bitcoin, so you’ll need to sell your Bitcoins for fiat currency (Dollar, Euros, etc.) on a Bitcoin exchange and then withdraw those funds from the exchange to your bank account.


9. Conclusion

There’s no shortage of desktop wallets for Bitcoin and this can sometimes be overwhelming for beginners. If you’re new to Bitcoin, start with Exodus and work your way up. If you feel that you’re pretty technical you can skip exodus and go straight to Electrum.

In the end, try to suit the wallet to your needs, since each one of the wallets I’ve reviewed here has a different edge.
I’d love to hear about your favorite Bitcoin desktop wallet in the comment section below.

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Jeremy K
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Jeremy K

How would I go about trading my Cryptolux CLX coin’s for crypto like BTC? I tried going to the site’s they send me to but when I do the address and put in into my Cryptolux CLX wallet address nothing happen’s! They do offer Linux and Window’s wallet for deposit withdraw but don’t know what you do when you download as it look’s weird!

patricia
Guest
patricia

YOU said that in order to send bitcoins to someone else you will have to convert the bitcoin wallet to a digital wallet and there is a tutorial for that. Where is the tutorial? As far as personal information on coinbase and localbitcoins.com what is the difference. Localbitcoins.com doesn’t make clear what identity information they request in their terms of service other than name and email. Do yo know what they require?

Ian
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Ian

Exodus charges stupid high fees for their use. It is easy to use just expect 10% or more in fees. Multiple complaints about this and the excuse they give is not true as I did only one deposit in a month. That is why I am at this article. I need a wallet that does not eat up my monthly mining in fees.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Pretty useless article as there are way more crypto coins out there than just the few supported in the above mentioned app.
If you are going to write an article like this, which is generally appreciated, discussing products that cover a decent range on coins (no not all the 1500 that are out there) would be surely be more meaningful.

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

hello everyone i looking for a wallet to store iota and ripple coins any way this is possible???

Ronald Rogers
Guest
Ronald Rogers

What wallet will allow you to store all coins rather than just a chosen few

Tomzi
Guest
Tomzi

I downloaded Armory, and created a watch only wallet. I’ve bought some BTC but still have 0 balance. Do I need a “regular” wallet of some sort before i creat a watch only?

Also, the blockchain or database is downloading and is only at 85GB at the moment, do i need to wait for the whole database to be downloaded?

Slipers
Guest
Slipers

The notes about the Bitcoin Core wallet are not totally true. You will need to verify the full 130gb (when you start) but you don’t have to store 130gb on your computer as described here: https://medium.com/@bgcallam/run-your-own-full-node-7949ec5d65a7

Megool
Guest
Megool

Can I add my Ethers to a bitcoin wallet?

Fab
Guest
Fab

I downloaded Exodus, but I don’t get how to put money in the wallet.. It makes me retrieve a previous account via backup.. It looks like you need a wallet to use an exchange, but you need an exchange to buy bc to put in the wallet. What I am not seeing?