I'm using bitcoind on a project, and I only need to send bitcoins to myself (from one wallet to another), so trust is not a factor.

That being said, is there a way to run bitcoind without needing to download the full blockchain?

Edit: I know Bitcoin-QT runs as "full node". Does bitcoind?

3 Answers 3


It isn't possible with the current version of Bitcoind, Bitcoin-QT is simply a GUI wrapper for Bitcoind so same applies for both.

If you need a wallet that doesn't download the full blockchain go with a thin wallet like Electrum. It does download block heards but that takes seconds. If you want to accomplish your project programmatically, consider the many libraries, such as Bitcoinj, Libbitcoin, and many others.

  • 2
    Jacob, thanks for expanding on my admittedly terse answer, but it is not correct that -QT is a wrapper for bitcoind. They share common source code, but they are two independent apps. For example: you can delete bitcoind from a Windows system and -QT will still operate normally. Also, the Mac -QT doesn't even ship with bitcoind, it has to be compiled separately. Both of these illustrate that -QT is independent of bitcoind. The fact is that Satoshi and later the Bitcoin dev team felt there was value in having the client download and validate the full blockchain, so that's why it exists today.
    – ChrisW
    Mar 2, 2014 at 19:20
  • 1
    The both operate on the same code is what I meant.
    – John T
    Mar 2, 2014 at 20:05

No, there's no way to run bitcoind without downloading the blockchain.

  • Could you expand on why?
    – John T
    Mar 2, 2014 at 7:49

Run a testnet:

Just set your bitcoin.conf to 'testnet=1' on all the machines you are connecing together.

You then can mine and transfer "fake" Bitcoins on your private test network, not touching the official one (not downloading the blockchain)

Naturally, these coins are not usable away from the testnet that you created because you are actually creating a test blockchain that the coins are created on. Everything works the same as the normal Bitcoin client (or bitcoind).

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