I accidentally swiped my bitcoin into a watching only wallet in electrum and I need help to move it from "cold storage" to an active standard electrum wallet... Help!

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    Where did the watch-only address come from? Do you have the private keys for it? If you do not, then you cannot move those coins (you would have to contact the person who had the keys for that address, and ask for your coins back). – chytrik Jul 12 '19 at 0:19
  • The watch only address came from electrum, I sweeped the coin from a paper coin I had from years ago and it went in but only to a watch only version – Jordan Jul 12 '19 at 0:27
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    Where did the watching only address in Electrum come from? How did it get there? Do you have the private key for it? – Andrew Chow Jul 12 '19 at 19:52

I accidentally swiped my bitcoin into a watching only wallet in electrum ... from a paper coin

The way you describe this makes it difficult for me to work out what happened but I am unfamiliar with Electrum so it may make sense to someone familiar with Electrum.


A Watch-only address is a bitcoin address for which the wallet has no record of the private-key from which the address was generated.

A Watch only wallet would be a wallet that contains a watch-only address (without the corresponding private key).


When you "sweep" bitcoin from one "place" into another, I believe that usually means creating a Bitcoin transaction on the blockchain which transfers control of the money from one wallet to another. The target wallet can create this transaction if you give it the private-key of the donor wallet. However, there is no way this transaction should result in a watch-only address - where the target wallet does not know the private key of the target address.


The alternative process is to import the private key from the paper wallet into the target wallet. Again there is no way the target wallet could end up not knowing the private key which controls the money.

Recovering control

I would dig out the old paper wallet (which you called a paper bitcoin), create a new wallet and import the private key from the paper wallet. I would do this on a new PC or first carefully back-up the existing wallet (and preferably test the backup can be recovered).

If you would like more detailed advice, it would probably require you to say how the paper wallet was obtained - e.g. "it was printed by an Acme-coinomatic BTM, in Idaho in June 2017".

If you have disposed of the paper wallet, your Bitcoin are probably lost forever.

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