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I have an old wallet.dat file that I have backed up and I have already replaced the new wallet.dat, which had no btc on it with the old one, which does. I have tried to enter the command for the rescan function to adapt to the different wallet information without success. Do I do this through the QT terminal or through the debug console command line? And can this be done before the bitcoin core wallet is completely synced with the entire network? Thanks.

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The QT terminal (RPC) rescan option will be available in 0.16 (not release by the time of writing). https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/7061

Manual rescans should generally not be required, though, if you are missing transactions in an old wallet, the rescan may help.

In Core < 0.16 you need to rescan either by startup argument or by a configuration option.

Startup (OSX)

Open up "Terminal.app" and enter /Applications/Bitcoin-Qt.app/Contents/MacOS/Bitcoin-Qt --rescan

bitcoin.conf (OSX)

Place a plain text file called bitcoin.conf in ~/Library/Application Support/Bitcoin/ and make sure the textfile contains the line "rescan=1".

Make sure you remove the rescan=1 line after you have successfully rescanned your wallet.dat.

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