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WIF Private Key

An easy to share format of a private key.

A private key can be converted in to a “Wallet Import Format”, which basically makes it easier to copy and move around (because it’s shorter and contains a checksum for detecting errors).

Try it!


You should never enter your private key in to a website, or use a private key generated by a website. Websites can save these private keys and use them to steal any bitcoins you send to its address.

How to create a WIF private key.

A WIF private key is a standard private key, but with a few added extras:

  1. Version Byte prefix - Indicates which network the private key is to be used on.
    • 0x80 = Mainnet
    • 0xEF = Testnet
  2. Compression Byte suffix (optional) - Indicates if the private key is used to create a compressed public key.
    • 0x01
  3. Checksum - Useful for detecting errors/typos when you type out your private key.

This is all then converted to Base58, which shortens the entire thing and makes it easier to transcribe…

A WIF private key is just another way of representing your original private key. If you have a WIF private key, you can always convert it back in to its original format.


Note: This code requires the checksum.rb and base58_encode.rb functions.

# Convert Private Key to WIF
privatekey = "ef235aacf90d9f4aadd8c92e4b2562e1d9eb97f0df9ba3b508258739cb013db2"
extended = "80" + privatekey + "01"
extendedchecksum = extended + checksum(extended)
wif = base58_encode(extendedchecksum)

puts wif

By Greg Walker,

Last Updated: 22 Jan 2021
  • 22 Jan 2021: base58 - Michael Bluejay suggestions (more)
  • 21 Jul 2020: renamed /guide/ to /technical/
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Hey there, it's Greg.

I'll let you know about cool website updates, or if something seriously interesting happens in bitcoin.

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