I see a lot of information about how to import a paper wallet into Electrum but can't find much in the other direction.

I want to generate a paper wallet from bitcoinpaperwallet.com (locally) so that I can store the amount. To do that I need a WIF private key. In Electrum I can see my master public key, my transaction ID, my receiving address, and I can export private keys. When I export private keys it is 27 pairs of addresses and private keys.

I see this conversion procedure, from the bitcoin wiki, for private keys to WIF or vice versa. And gobittest.appspot.com/PrivateKey to implement it.

My question is why are there 27 key pairs in electrum for one wallet? Do I choose one and convert that? Is the balance split up amongst the keys?

2 Answers 2


My question is why are there 27 key pairs in electrum for one wallet? [..] Is the balance split up amongst the keys?

Yes, a wallet is a collection of private keys their corresponding addresses. Best practises for making transactions includes using a new address every time you receive bitcoin, and almost every send will also generate a new 'change address' that your wallet software controls. Any wallet that is used to transact will end up being a collection of keys, unless it is poorly coded. Search for 'bitcoin address reuse' to learn more about why this is the norm.

Do I choose one and convert that?

By choosing one, you will be storing that specific address' private key, and none of the others.

If you would like to make a physical backup of your entire electrum wallet, then you should make a copy of your mnemonic seed phrase. This seed phrase is used to generate your master private key, and each subsequent private key your wallet generates will be derived from this master key.

I don't know your exact intention, but I think it is worth mentioning: the usefulness of a cold storage paper wallet is that it is preferably generated on a machine which never connects to the internet. This helps protect your keys from 'hacking' attacks, largely reducing the attack surface to physical breaches (ie someone breaks into your house and steals the physical paper wallets). So creating a paper wallet that is just a copy of one of your electrum addresses does not give you any additional security (rather, it would increase your attack surface). In general, this is why there probably isn't a good tutorial for 'creating a paper wallet that matches a software wallet': the best way to back up a software wallet is to store the seed phrase! Using paper wallets to do the same adds unnecessary complications.

Also worth mentioning: do NOT input your private keys into the website you linked that does private key format conversions. If you must use it, you should save the html file and open it in a VM or offline machine.


From this resource, I found that when you create an Electrum wallet it creates a pool of public and private key pairs. Each of the private keys is in fact a WIF private key already. You should be able to take that key and make a paper wallet from it. That paper wallet can then be swept back into another Electrum wallet later or if you delete your wallet from your computer.

If you keep your Electrum seed then you dont have to transfer the bitcoin to a new private key thereby saving the transaction costs.

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.