What Is Etherscan and How Is It Used?
If you’re going to work with NFTs and smart contracts or do anything else on the Ethereum blockchain, then you need to learn to use Etherscan. But what is Etherscan?
Etherscan is a block explorer and analytics platform which lets you view and analyze assets, balances and transactions on the Ethereum network. You can also easily interact with smart contracts and check gas prices on Etherscan.
While it seems to share many functions of a crypto wallet, Etherscan is not a wallet service provider. It can’t store private keys, nor can it control outgoing or incoming transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. It only shows public data or on-chain data.
Now, let’s show you how to use it and make the most of this platform.
How Does Etherscan Work?
Etherscan works like a search engine by indexing all the transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, and then showing them to you when you enter wallet or token addresses in the search field. You can search for all kinds of transactions, be they successful, failed or pending.
You don’t necessarily have to start an account to access its essential features, although being a registered user of Etherscan does offer you more perks. Nevertheless, the platform remains free to use whether or not you have an account.
All you need to get started on this platform is a wallet address. By entering that into the search field on the home page, you can view a lot of information about Ether transactions, smart contracts and NFTs.
The home page gives you an overview of the blockchain by showing you the market cap of ETH, the last Ether price, changes over the past 24 hours, mining difficulty level, etc.
We’ll explain in detail how the different functions of Etherscan work in the upcoming sections.
How to See Transactions on Etherscan
To view transaction details on Etherscan, simply enter your wallet address in the search field or the home page. It will display an overview page almost immediately. Here, you can view the total wallet balance in ETH and its value in U.S. dollars (USD).
You’ll see a list of your transactions on the wallet’s home page. Different tabs show you transactions for ETH, ERC-721 and ERC-20 tokens, as well as internal transactions.
Each of these tabs will show you the transaction hash, method of transaction, block number, wallet address that initiated the transaction and transaction status.
As you scroll down, you’ll move from the most recent transaction to older transactions that have been made to and from the wallet.
If a transaction is pending, you can view its place in the queue and other details, such as the gas price and transaction fees you paid for it, by clicking on the transaction ID.
In the Analytics tab, you can see the transaction costs in either a pie chart or graphic format. This gives you information such as the highest and the lowest amounts of ETH that have ever been in the wallet, the highest or lowest transaction fees you’ve paid, and the changes in ETH balance over time.
To find a specific transaction you’ve made, simply type the transaction ID (TXID) into the search field at the top of the page and you’ll be led to a page where you can see all the details of your transaction.
Viewing Wallet and Transaction History on Etherscan
To view the history of the wallet’s transactions, enter the address in the search bar and scroll down the page. Here, you’ll find a quick overview of all the tokens that have moved in and out of the wallet, their quantities, the cost for each, the smart contract address to which each transaction was made, and similar information.
Etherscan also has a feature that helps you to look deeper into the history of a particular transaction. Just enter the transaction hash (TxHash) into the search field on the home page, or click on the transaction ID (TXID) from the list in the wallet’s history.
Here’s some of the information you’ll find:
- The date and time the transaction was executed
- Sender and receiver public wallet addresses
- The ID of the miner
- Transaction fee or gas
- Difficulty level
You can keep scrolling to go further back for details of older transactions.
How to Review Smart Contracts on Etherscan
There are two ways to review smart contracts on Etherscan: Either you read or write them. Writing a smart contract allows you to interact with it. This feature is particularly helpful if a DApp is down due to technical failure. You’ll need to connect a crypto wallet, such as MetaMask, in order to write a smart contract.
Meanwhile, reading a smart contract means going through its source code and details without altering them. To do this, enter the contract address link into the Etherscan search field, as you did for viewing the wallet.
Note that all smart contracts don’t show you the same information on this block explorer and analytics platform. You’ll find a variation between the tabs on the home pages of different projects.
When you read a smart contract, you can gain as much information as possible about the number of tokens the contact has, the number of holders, age, and other general information about the smart contract. However, you won’t always find the number of holders on every smart contract home page.
After you enter the project’s address, Etherscan will display a page with data such as the total supply, balance, number of holders, transfers, etc. This page might look quite similar to the wallet address page you’ve seen earlier, but there will be subtle changes. The first difference you’ll notice here will be in the tabs, as seen in the images below.
To begin reading, you need to go into the Contract tab. By default, Etherscan will show you the full source code if it’s an open-source contract. You can then audit it yourself if you know how to do so.
Easiest Way to Read Smart Contracts on Etherscan
A more straightforward way to read the source code of a smart contract is to click on the Outline button on the right side of the screen in the Contract tab. This will show you all the functions used for the project.
The rest of the information is straightforward. You can find it by clicking on the Read Contract button. For instance, by looking into the number of holders, you’ll view the top holders of the particular NFT. This feature isn’t available for every smart contract, however. Similarly, you can view all the details of transactions or mints on the smart contract.
We’ve only mentioned some basic features you’ll find in the Read Contract tab. There’s a ton of other information you’ll have access to on this platform. Etherscan also shows analytics for the smart contract balance and transaction fees in pie chart or graph format. That information can be found under the Analytics tab.
Checking Gas Prices on Etherscan
You can view ETH gas prices by navigating to the Etherscan gas tracker page from the More option (in the top menu) on the website. It gives you a gas fee estimate by showing you the low, average and high gas values for various transaction actions, such as OpenSea sales, Uniswap v3, and USDT transfer. These values are updated every 15 seconds.
You can also check seven-day oracle gas prices on Etherscan in a neat graph and table. Toward the right, you can look at the value of confirmation time multiplied by gas prices, which is also refreshed every 15 seconds.
These gas prices help you time your ETH transactions correctly. If you’re not in a hurry, you can either wait to make the swap or buy an NFT until the fees are lower. Along with showing you real-time gas prices, the Ethereum gas tracker on Etherscan shows you the top 50 gas spenders and the USD value that they’ve spent on transaction fees in the last three hours.
Checking Gas Prices of Individual Wallets on Etherscan
You can also check the total number of ETH you’ve spent on gas fees since you’ve been on the Ethereum blockchain.
Here’s the process for doing that:
- Enter your wallet address in the search bar and click on Enter
- Click on the Analytics tab on the page that opens
- Click on TxnFees
Etherscan tracks gas prices that you’ve paid and summarizes the information to show you the average value of your fees.
How to View NFTs on Etherscan
You can track NFT transactions on this explorer and analytics platform by entering the smart contract address and scrolling down the page. But is there a way you can view the picture of the NFT itself on Etherscan? Yes — but not many people know about it.
Here’s the process to follow in order to view an NFT:
- Enter the correct contract address in the search bar
- Click on the Token Tracker link on the right side of your screen
- Scroll down to the transactions table on the new screen that’s displayed
- The extreme right column, which is titled Details, will have a clickable link (with the words View NFT)
- Click on any of these and you’ll be navigated to a page that has a picture and details of the NFT itself
Make sure to take a closer look at the details of the NFT — these aren’t so conveniently displayed elsewhere on Etherscan. Here, you can view the last sale price of the NFT, mint price, owner’s address, token address and properties. In addition, in the top right corner there’s an option to chat one-on-one with the owner of the NFT.
Viewing NFTs in Individual Wallets
You can also view all the NFTs that you or someone else owns. Simply enter their wallet address in the search bar, press Enter, and choose the ERC-721 section from the wallet’s home page menu.
Here, you’ll see all of the NFTs linked to that address. You can check out the transaction history and click on any transaction hash to look at further details. You also have the option to click on View NFT to look at a picture of it.
How to Mint NFT on Etherscan
You can mint any NFT on Etherscan using its ERC-721 interface. Remember, you can only mint verified contracts. You’ll know if a project’s smart contract is verified when there's a small tick mark next to the Contract tab on the project’s home page. Here’s the process for minting:
- Find the smart contract address either on Etherscan, the project’s website or the OpenSea NFT marketplace
- Enter the smart contract address in the search field
- Go to the Contract tab from the project’s home page, and click on Write Contract
- Connect your MetaMask account by clicking on Connect to Web 3.0 and choosing your account from the pop-up window
- Scroll down the Write Contract page until you find the Mint Contract function (Remember that this can be labeled under a different name in different projects)
- Expand on the Mint option and begin filling in the details
You’ll need to mention the minting price in ETH, as well as the number of tokens you want to mint. Carefully select these values and double-check, because the process is irreversible. Once you’re sure, click the Write button and wait for your mint to be executed successfully.
Most NFTs can be minted using this process, but every token contract is a bit different. Hence, some contracts will ask for additional information in the Mint tab.
How to Speed up the NFT Minting Process on Etherscan
Sometimes your NFT minting process on Etherscan will slow down. This mostly happens when you bid low gas fees. You can always speed up the process by adjusting the gas price and raising it by a few points at a time.
Minting NFTs directly on Etherscan is an excellent option because a project’s official website can crash due to high network traffic when mint opens. That usually happens with highly-anticipated launches. You also don’t need to run your own code by minting on Etherscan, making minting accessible for people unfamiliar with coding languages.
Etherscan is a remarkable tool with widgets for almost all functions you’ll want in a block explorer. Platforms like this facilitate blockchain transparency and make the Ethereum network more reliable. That’s why all Ethereum network users should learn to operate it and leverage the insights it offers to make better trading decisions and analyze whales.