I know MtGox allows me to redeem a private key, but that doesn't necessarily ensure that all the value is extracted from that address in a timely manner. Is there no simple way to send the entire value of a private key to another address in case you believe the private key has been compromised? My real use for this is in having offline/paper wallets. I would like to transfer my bitcoins to an offline "savings" address, then when I want to make a withdrawal, be able to transfer the entire value of that private key to a new address because, having entered the private key somewhere to redeem its value, its privacy could have been compromised.

This seems like a very common use case for paper wallets. Am I missing something? It should be easier to spend the value from a particular address. Why can't I use my bitcoin client to spend a specific address? I can import private keys into bitcoin v0.7.1-beta (although even that is an obscure debug window) function, but it looks like sending from a specific address is also an obscure debug function (sendfrom). Why is this so obscure when it seems like such a common case? What is one to do if they suspect a particular address' private key of being compromised?

Also, how can I tell how much value is available on my various addresses to make sure I extract the full value? Blockchain.info seems to do a good job, but it's Dutch -- isn't there an English site or bitcoin client function to determine an address' value. That too seems really basic. I have tried blockexplorer.com, but that site rarely seems to work.

I feel like I'm trying to accomplish the most basic of tasks, and the tools just aren't there, so I must be missing something.

P.S. I am using also Android devices with BitcoinSpinner. I would be interested to know if some more sophisticated clients allow this more easily -- scanning both a private key as a source and a public key as a destination -- to create a transaction.

P.P.S I'm also not clear on how to use the backup provided by BitcoinSpinner. I tried to import it as a private key into bitcoin v0.7.1-beta on my desktop, but it didn't work. The only way I could figure out how to essentially get a backup of BitcounSpinner into my desktop's client was to import the private key, which I know is wrong. There must be some way that backups are supposed to work.

4 Answers 4


If you want to redeem all funds from a private key and never use it again - you can for example create a new wallet file, run a bitcoin client, import the private key, let the client fully synchronise, and then send all your available funds to another address you own. After that, you can move your old wallet back where it belongs and use the new funds transferred. The redeemed key will not interfere with your normal wallet and you will have your funds.

  • This involves under-cutting the normal function of the bitcoin client by 1) renaming its (obscurely located) data files, and 2) using "debug" functionality to import a private key. Doesn't it seem odd to have to go to such lengths simply to send a transaction from a specified address given its private key? Also, wouldn't it be simpler to import the private key and then use sendfrom to send from the specific address? Simpler, but still not simple enough, IMO (because sendfrom, like importprivkey is a debug function).
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 7, 2012 at 11:48
  • 1
    @BlueMonkMN - people don't usually work with private keys, but rather with addresses. What you're doing isn't "a basic task" - I've been using Bitcoin for 1.5 years and have never had the need to do what you're trying to do.
    – ripper234
    Dec 7, 2012 at 12:41
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    @ripper234 OK, so how do you (or how should one) keep offline backups of bitcoins should your electronic copies fail? Even USB drives seem somewhat less reliable than paper in some ways.
    – BlueMonkMN
    Dec 7, 2012 at 14:04
  • @BlueMonkMN - encrypt with a strong password & upload to dropbox. Only ever decrypt on a dedicated secured computer.
    – ripper234
    Dec 7, 2012 at 16:32
  • See also en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Securing_your_wallet
    – ripper234
    Dec 7, 2012 at 16:37

I believe a suggestion from ripper234 in discussion is the answer I'm looking for - use the Armory client instead. I found this page about Armory particularly reassuring and will be trying that client shortly: http://bitcoinarmory.com/index.php/using-offline-wallets-in-armory

Edit: I see now with the help of the Armory client that the name of the feature I was after is a private key "sweep". Apparently it's common enough to have its own name and menu item in Armory. That will "sweep" the value out of the provided address into your Armory wallet to make sure that anyone else who may come into possession of the private key won't have access to the value it stored.


From a mobile or tablet access EasyWallet.org and click Scan. Done.


These days I use Android Mycelium Wallet. If you go to the Accounts page, and add an account, scrolling to the bottom, there's an "Advanced" button to scan/add a private key, which I believe also does what I was trying to do here.

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