How to Add Tokens to Metamask: A Beginner‘s Guide

default image

If you‘re diving into the world of Ethereum, decentralized finance (DeFi), or crypto dapps, you‘ll likely come across Metamask. Metamask serves as a crypto wallet and gateway to the emerging landscape of web3 applications.

One of Metamask‘s most useful features for both newbies and experienced users is its ability to hold and manage ERC-20 tokens. But knowing how to properly add tokens to your Metamask wallet takes some guidance.

In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn:

  • A primer on Ethereum, Metamask, and ERC-20 tokens
  • How to install and set up the Metamask wallet
  • Step-by-step instructions for adding tokens using the interface
  • How to manually add custom tokens not in the default list
  • Tips for organizing your token portfolio
  • How to switch Ethereum networks on Metamask
  • Best security practices for keeping your tokens safe

I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about adding tokens to Metamask. My goal is to provide plenty of context and visuals so even total beginners can follow along. Let’s get started!

A Quick Primer on Ethereum, Metamask, and ERC-20 Tokens

To understand Metamask and adding tokens, it helps to first understand Ethereum and how it relates to cryptocurrencies.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a blockchain network and the second most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum has its own native currency called Ether (ETH).

However, Ethereum was built with a broader vision beyond just digital money. The Ethereum blockchain allows developers to build decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts that inherit the same security and interoperability as Ethereum itself.

What is Metamask?

Metamask is a software cryptocurrency wallet used to interact with the Ethereum blockchain. It allows users to store Ether as well as other cryptocurrencies and tokens built on Ethereum.

Metamask serves as a bridge between regular web browsers and the Ethereum network. It comes as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Brave and other browsers. Metamask allows you to run Ethereum dApps right in your browser without running a full Ethereum node.

Over 21 million users have installed MetaMask as of September 2022, making it the most popular Ethereum and Web3 wallet.

What are ERC-20 tokens?

ERC-20 is a technical standard for creating and issuing digital tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. These tokens, sometimes called smart contract tokens, can represent anything – an asset, currency, voting rights, etc.

Some of the most popular cryptocurrencies like USDT, UNI, LINK and AAVE are ERC-20 tokens built on Ethereum. Today, over 400,000 ERC-20 token contracts exist.

Because ERC-20 tokens run on the Ethereum network, you can store them in any Ethereum-compatible wallet like Metamask. Next I‘ll show you how.

Step 1: Install and Set Up Metamask

Metamask supports adding ERC-20 tokens by default. But first you need to install it and create a wallet:

  1. Install Metamask‘s browser extension on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Brave or another desktop browser. You can also use the Metamask mobile app on iOS or Android.

  2. After installing, click to open the Metamask extension. You‘ll see a welcome screen to create your wallet:

[Image: Metamask create wallet]
  1. Click ‘Create a Wallet‘. Set a secure password.

  2. You‘ll be given a random 12-word "secret recovery phrase". Save this phrase somewhere safe offline. It will allow you to restore your wallet if you forget your password or lose access.

  3. Verify you have saved the recovery phrase securely. Check the box and click ‘All Done‘ to continue.

That‘s it! Your Metamask wallet is now ready to use. Next let‘s look at adding tokens.

Method 1: Adding Tokens Via the Default List

The easiest way to add a token to Metamask is by searching for it in the default token list. Here‘s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Login to Metamask and click on ‘Ethereum Mainnet‘ in the upper right. Ensure you are on the main network not a testnet.

  2. Scroll down to the bottom of your assets list and click ‘Add Tokens‘:

[Image: Metamask Add Tokens]

  1. Click the ‘Token Lists‘ tab:
[Image: Metamask Token Lists]
  1. Here you can toggle on the default token lists like ERC20 and DeFi. This will populate popular Ethereum tokens you can add.

  2. Scroll through the list and search for the token you want to add. Select it by clicking ‘Add‘.

  3. The token will now show in your assets list! Make sure the toggle is green to see your balance.

Using this method you can quickly add widespread tokens like USDC, UNI, LINK, AAVE, and more. However, more obscure or new tokens may not be available in the lists. In that case, you‘ll need to add the custom token contract address manually.

Method 2: Adding Custom Tokens by Contract Address

Adding a custom token not available in the interface lists requires you to enter its contract address along with other details.

Here is how to add custom tokens to Metamask:

  1. Get the token‘s contract address. You can usually find this on the project‘s website or on a blockchain explorer like Etherscan.

  2. In Metamask, click ‘Add Tokens‘ then select ‘Custom Token‘:

[Image: Metamask Custom Token]
  1. Paste your token‘s contract address into the address field.

  2. Add the token‘s symbol, name, and decimal precision. Most are 18 decimals.

  3. Click ‘Next‘ then ‘Add Tokens‘ and your custom token will now appear!

Be sure to only add token addresses from official sources you trust to avoid scams.

Organizing Your Token Portfolio

Once you‘re holding multiple tokens in your Metamask wallet, here are some tips for keeping them organized:

  • Rename tokens by clicking the three dots next to the token name if the default name is unclear.

  • Reorder tokens by clicking and dragging them into your preferred order. Put your most used ones on top.

  • View token details like your balance history and transactions by clicking on a specific token.

  • Disable unused tokens by flipping their toggle off to declutter your assets list.

  • Back up your recovery phrase again in case you ever lose access to your wallet.

  • Double check addresses when adding new tokens to ensure they are legitimate contracts.

Here is an example of how you can rename and reorder tokens in your personalized Metamask portfolio:

[Image: Organized Metamask tokens]

Taking the time to rename, disable, and reorder your tokens will keep your Metamask wallet tidy as your holdings grow.

Switching Ethereum Networks on Metamask

So far I‘ve covered how to add tokens on the Ethereum mainnet. However, Metamask also supports testnets like Ropsten and Rinkeby for experimenting with test tokens and dapps.

You can easily switch between networks within Metamask:

  1. Click the network dropdown (likely set to ‘Ethereum Mainnet‘).

  2. Select the network you want to switch to like Ropsten Test Network.

  3. Your wallet will reload and reflect the new network. Assets and activity on other networks won‘t be visible.

  4. Ensure you have testnet ETH in your wallet to transact on testnets. You can get some for free from faucets.

  5. To switch back, just select ‘Ethereum Mainnet‘ again from the network selector.

Being able to switch between mainnet and testnets lets you safely play around with test tokens and dapps without risking real value.

Security Tips for Keeping Your Tokens Safe

Now that you know how to add tokens to Metamask, here are some security best practices to keep them protected:

  • Carefully guard your secret recovery phrase. This 12-word phrase can be used to restore or steal your wallet. Never enter it on any website.

  • Enable two-factor authentication in Metamask‘s settings for extra protection.

  • Frequently back up your Metamask account in case you need to restore it. This can be done via the recovery phrase or private keys.

  • Use a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor for optimum security of significant holdings. These work together with Metamask.

  • Beware phishing attacks. Never input your seed phrase or private keys on any website. Metamask will never ask you for them.

  • Triple check addresses when sending crypto or tokens. Transfers can‘t be reversed if sent to the wrong place.

Following security best practices is just as important as understanding how to add and manage tokens in Metamask. Take precautions and you can enjoy peace of mind as you explore Ethereum and DeFi via Metamask.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about adding tokens to the Metamask wallet:

How many tokens can I store in Metamask?

You can store an unlimited number of ERC-20 tokens in your Metamask wallet! The only limit is how many you can neatly organize.

What‘s the difference between adding tokens on the Ethereum mainnet vs a testnet?

Testnets are used for experimenting with test assets with no real value. Mainnet is the actual live Ethereum network where real value is transacted. Make sure you only add real, vetted tokens on mainnet.

Can I store NFTs in Metamask as well as regular tokens?

Yes, Metamask has NFT support. However, NFTs follow the ERC-721 standard rather than ERC-20. You add them in the same way by entering the contract address. They show under the ‘Collectibles‘ tab.

I added a token but the balance shows zero – what‘s wrong?

First make sure the token is toggled on to display the balance. If it still shows zero, you may have added the contract address for the wrong network. Carefully re-check the address and switch networks if needed.

Is there a way to view my transaction history for a specific token?

Yes! Click on the token itself and you will see your full transaction history for that asset like sends, receives, swaps, etc. This lets you track the growth of each token over time.

And there you have it – a comprehensive, beginner-friendly guide on how to add and manage tokens within your Metamask Ethereum wallet! With these steps, you can quickly being exploring the emerging world of DeFi and dApps powered by Ethereum. Here‘s to the future of web3!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.