A Beginner’s Guide to Etherscan: How to Use the Explorer
Etherscan is a free block explorer and analytics tool that can be extremely helpful for beginners in the Ethereum NFT space. The website looks simple, but is actually a very robust place to see detailed information on transactions, contracts, holders, and much more — you just need to know where to look.
For people new to the blockchain and NFTs, it can seem intimidating to dive into the details on some of these things. However, Etherscan makes it easy to educate yourself about what is occurring on Ethereum, directly from the blockchain itself.
In short, Etherscan is the most direct way to view and interact with the Ethereum blockchain. Learning a couple of basic Etherscan skills can go a long way to unleash the power from all of the information on the public ledger.
What is Etherscan?
Etherscan — or etherscan.io — has been around since 2015, with its small team of employees based in Malaysia. It is estimated that around five million users per month visit the block explorer. It’s used as the “source of truth” for what is happening on the Ethereum blockchain, as it reads directly from the chain. It also keeps historical records of transactions and events.
The front page of Etherscan shows an overall state of Ethereum, including the latest blocks, transactions, gas price, Ether price, and market cap. Using the search bar at the top is the fastest way to get information about some data on the blockchain. You can search wallet addresses, contract addresses, transactions, ENS names, and more.
By exploring the contract, it will show the top number of holders and activity on that contract, along with the code, contract creator, and more. It’s also where to go if you want to mint an NFT directly from the contract — more on that later.
How to Find an NFT Project’s Contract Address
There are a few ways to find an NFT project smart contract.
- Type in the search bar. Note: This method can be risky. For example, if we type in Doodles, it will show one that has a verified blue checkmark. The rest of them could be fake. This will take us to the token page, and the contract is on the right side (circled in red below).
2. Find the contract address in the official Discord. Beware that some project Discords get hacked. Triple-check the accuracy.
3. Use an NFT marketplace like OpenSea to find the contract on the official token — if it’s on the marketplace ye. Make sure it is the correct OpenSea collection, usually verified with a blue check. Click on the contract outlined in red below, which will take you directly to Etherscan.
One part of the contract page is the Transactions tab. This will show every transaction that has taken place involving the contract you’re viewing. This may mean a mint, a transfer, a sale, a burn, setting approval on a wallet, and more. All of this activity is public and timestamped on the blockchain.
If someone has a .eth ENS wallet address tied to their wallet, that is shown instead of their full public address.
To dive in deeper, if we click on one of these transaction hashes, it shows if the transaction was a success, the time, the action, the token ID that was transferred, and the wallet it went to. It also shows all the gas fees paid to complete the transaction.
Find Etherscan on MetaMask
If you go to your activity tab in MetaMask, you can also go to a specific transaction for your wallet. Under activity, click on a transaction, and then click on “View on block explorer” to take you to that transaction on Etherscan. This is helpful to check on the status of a pending transaction, or get more details about it.
Click on any public Ethereum wallet address or type it directly into the search bar to see everything they have been doing on-chain. This shows every interaction, including ERC-20 tokens, NFTs, and transfers to and from exchanges.
For example, j1mmy.eth is a well-known figure in the NFT space. By typing in this public wallet .eth name in Etherscan, it shows:
- Current balance and Ether value (top left)
- Transaction history for ERC-20 (coins like $ETH or $APE) and ERC-721, ERC-1155 tokens (NFTs)
- Analytics about spending and balance history
- …and more
How to View NFT Holders on Etherscan
One of the great things about Etherscan is that you can see how many holders own a certain token, and how ownership breaks down. From the original contract page, click on the “Token Tracker” link under “more info” to access the holder information.
For the official Deadfellaz NFT token tracker page, you can click “Token Tracker Chart” to visualize this information.
The high number of unique holders for this community means that the top 100 holders only own 14.46 percent of DeadFellaz. This is relatively low compared to many NFT communities where whales dominate the overall share. You can also see the top holders, with No. 1 currently being coco.eth with 86 tokens.
How to Mint an NFT from the Contract
Did you know that you don’t have to wait for a project’s mint page to work to mint an NFT? You can mint it directly from the contract.
Sometimes if a project’s website has crashed due to high traffic when an NFT mint goes live, people opt to mint from the contract directly. Additionally, in a competitive mint, the contract may open for minting before the minting website is live.
This can sometimes be more successful than minting from the project’s website.
Please note: Minting from contract is an intermediate feature and sometimes has increased safety and security risk. Be sure to only do this if you are 100 percent sure the contract address is correct.
Step-by-step Minting an NFT from Contract
The first thing to do is to find the smart contract. Most new projects have this on their official website or in their Discord.
Again, please be very confident that this is correct before minting something that may be malicious. Many scammers use this as an opportunity to create a similar looking website to a new mint and drain wallets that way.
For our example, Bored Ape Yacht Club, we can see the contract link at the bottom of their website. Click it or copy it, and paste it into Etherscan. (Note: you can’t mint apes this way… they have been minted out of course!)
Once you get to Etherscan, you will see “Contract” with a verified check mark next to it. Click that to go to the next step.
Under contract, you’ll see three choices once you click. Click on “Write Contract” and then “Connect to Web3.” Connect the wallet of your choice — most use MetaMask.
Once your wallet is connected, the “Connect to Web3” dot will turn green. Then expand the “Mint” section — the contract options vary based on project, but it’s typically called “Mint”.
Type in the cost per mint in Ethereum (for BAYC, the cost was 0.08) and quantity you want to mint. If you want to mint multiple, you would just change the quantity and multiply the cost per mint to whatever quantity you want (for BAYC, .16 and 2, .24 and 3, and so on).
Click “Write” and you will be minting!
If you are getting a crazy high gas error, it means the parameters you used to manually mint are incorrect. If you don’t understand deciphering the actual code, check in the project Discord or within your trusted community to check which parameters to use to mint. Every NFT project is different.
Etherscan Bonus Features
There are additional features that you may not know exist on Etherscan. Some of these are still in beta, so they aren’t finalized yet. They are still extremely helpful.
If you are concerned that your wallet has been compromised or you want to clean up which dApps have been connected, Etherscan has a tool for that. Just connect your Ethereum wallet and revoke approvals from here.
This chat tool allows Ethereum addresses to communicate with each other. Log in with your Ethereum wallet and it enables you to reach out to another public address.
The NFT Tracker tool is in beta, but is shows information on trades and mints across various platforms. There are minimal features for NFTs on Etherscan, but it looks like that may change as they continue to grow.
Track Ethereum Gas Prices
The gas tracker page is a great tool to show current gas prices. It also shows which contracts are guzzling the most gas. Use this information to wait for gas to go down before you transact on the Ethereum blockchain.
Wallet Tracking (Requires login)
Most features on the site don’t require a login, but wallet tracking requires it. This feature offers notifications based on activities of certain wallets a user adds. It’s possible to get notifications for every transaction, or just incoming or just outgoing.
This allows whale wallets to be tracked, for those interested on what tokens they are minting, buying, or selling. The feature is called “Watch List” and can be accessed within the user profile section.
Etherscan is a powerful open-source platform that allows anyone to analyze what is occurring on the Ethereum blockchain, including any contract or wallet address.
It is also helpful for data analysis on tokens you own or want to own. You can even view the activity of any public address on the blockchain, and see how much Ethereum that the address has in their wallet.
The key features of a blockchain are authenticity and transparency, and Etherscan is a great way to explore. For anyone new to Web3 or NFTs, it should be a place where you spend a lot of time. These basic skills will become building blocks in deciphering and understanding patterns and trends, which can lead to long-term success in the space.