I don't understand the bitcoin-qt program (mac). Why doesn't it show the private keys for the addresses I've created? Also, why doesn't it let me delete the new addresses?

Say I want to send money from account X on my mac from my windows computer. How would one do that?

1 Answer 1


Your wallet program doesn't show the private keys because you usually don't need to see them. In the same way that you almost never see your password to any website you use. If it did show them then someone could take a photograph of them and later spend the content of your wallet.

It probably doesn't let you delete addresses because of the potential for harm. If you ever gave that address to somebody and they some day transfer coins to the address, you'll wish you hadn't deleted it. If you send someone an address and they use it to pay you, and then you think "that transaction's completed, I'll delete the address now", you'll lose the coins that were sent to you because they're still sitting in that address. There's too much risk of people not understanding the system and losing coins as a result.

To send money from one computer to another:

  • first go to the computer that's going to receive the money, run the wallet program, go to the 'receive coins' tab, pick any of the addresses that are shown, optionally edit the 'label' field to make a note of who you're going to give it to. In this case "My Mac" might be a good label. Then copy the address to the clipboard and email it to yourself at the Mac. Or write it down if you like.
  • then go to the Mac, run the wallet program, go to the 'send coins' tab, put the address from the previous step in the 'pay to' field, and the amount in the 'amount' field. Optionally put a label in the 'label' field. "My PC" might be a good label for this. Click "Send".

I just noticed you want to send from a specific account on the Mac. Do you mean you want to send from a specific address? That's not yet supported in the standard client. A patch has been submitted that adds this feature. There's a description and video going into more detail.

Edit: it occurs to me that you really to mean "account" in your question. Don't confuse accounts with addresses. You don't need to send from a specific address to send from a particular account. There's no support for accounts in the bitcoin-qt client though I don't think.

The upcoming 0.6.0 version of the Satoshi client adds a command to export an address' private key, so if you want to print it out and keep it somewhere safe you could use that. But typically people just make sure they have a copy of their whole wallet.dat file instead.

  • Yes, I meant address not account. So the money would have to be sent to a new address instead of using the same address on a different computer. Makes sense and I can see how that adds an extra layer of security. I'm a bit worried about losing access to my addresses. I thought I have to get my hands on the private keys somehow. I guess only the whole wallet.dat file should be backed up instead of extracting the private keys. Basically I'll never even see or need to use the keys then...
    – domino
    Mar 16, 2012 at 23:29
  • 1
    So you were thinking about having the same addresses on two different computers as a backup. That's not a good idea. The wallets will get out of sync. You'll spend the same coin on both computers, then one of the spends will be rejected by the network. Also each wallet will generate different addresses to use for receiving change, and you'll end up with some shared addresses and some unique in each wallet. Mar 17, 2012 at 4:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.