What is Etherscan and How To Use It?

BlockchainFeb 27, 2023

Most cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum have an open, transparent database. Anyone can see the digital ledger of transactions as everything that happens on-chan is published. That said, querying data from blockchain technology is an uphill battle. Therefore, you can use block explorer to simplify your search instead of looking at the raw data that is nearly impossible to decipher.

Etherscan is one such effective block explorer that abstracts the complexity of retrieving data on the blockchain by providing a simple interface for Ethereum blockchain. Before having a closer look at Etherscan, let’s understand block explorers first.

Block Explorers

Although the blockchain contains all information about your transactions, it is very time-consuming to go through the entire blockchain to know what’s going on there. Thanks to block explorers, you can browse and search this open database to know the transaction details and the amount of crypto owned by a specific wallet. Moreover, some block explorers display the sender and receiver address as well as the amount of “Gas” paid for a particular transaction.

Let’s learn about Etherscan; how it works, how it simplifies the blockchain data, and how to use it in a blockchain strategy.

What is Etherscan?

Etherscan serves as a blockchain explorer that allows users to look through the transactions, smart contracts, wallet addresses, blocks, and other on-chain data related to Ethereum-based trades and assets. You can access many features without opening your account or connecting to your wallet.

Like other cryptocurrencies, all Ethereum interactions are publicly recorded on Blockchain. Etherscan is a block explorer software to visualize past transactions on the Ethereum network that spans from transferring coins to purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Why Do You need Etherscan?

Etherscan allows users to search and explore the Ethereum blockchain for transactions, tokens, addresses, and other activities. Ether, an Ethereum token, is the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency for market capitalization. Etherscan provides Token Tracker for this widely used token by providing information, such as price, holders, total supply, and transfers.

There are numerous use cases of Etherscan that make it a powerful block explorer. It allows you to monitor high-profile NFT holders’ portfolios. Moreover, you can track what a certain NFT project or company is doing with its funds.

For instance, Gamestop dumped $42 million worth of NFX tokens, shortly after it received a $100 million grant from Immutable X. The proof of this incident was provided by Etherscan. By tracking the transaction of NFT projects' potential rug pulls and NFT scams, Etherscan helps the victims of crypto scams. Along the same line, Etherscan tracks the “whales” wallet which holds a large amount of ETH. Monitoring their movement is quite helpful as you can predict the price movement with this information.

Anyone can use Etherscan to search for and validate Ethereum transactions. The use cases may involve:

  • Searching and viewing wallets and transactions
  • Tracking gas fees
  • Interacting with smart contracts
  • Revoking or reviewing your token approvals
  • Using Token ignore list feature to hide your tokens
  • Staying up-to-date with the Ethereum ecosystem

Note that Etherscan is not a wallet; you can use Etherscan to search your Ethereum wallet and track the transactions but if you want to enter into a transaction or use ETH, you have to access your crypto exchange or wallet.

How to Use Etherscan?

Anyone can monitor the activities of Ethereum using Etherscan. Some users view their transactions, blocks, tokens, and other digital assets while others use Etherscan just to keep up with what’s happening. You can access this Ethereum-based information using either your transaction ID or wallet’s public address. We will take you through some of the popular use cases of Etherscan in detail.

Checking Transactions on Etherscan:

Keeping track of Ethereum blockchain transactions is the most fundamental use case of Etherscan. If a user understands how to follow cryptocurrency, he will be able to unlock the rest of the cryptocurrency information. You can see the history of a particular crypto transaction on Ethereum by following the process mentioned below;

  • Find the transaction hash(Tx Hash) or transaction ID (TxID). These are a series of numbers or letters that are used to identify a particular transaction on the blockchain.
  • Go to the Etherscan search bar that is on the top of the page and enter the TxID or Tx Hash and click “search”
  • A page will display information related to that transaction, such as its status (successful, failed, pending), time and date of transaction, and the number of blocks in which the transaction was recorded.
  • You can also find senders' and receivers’ addresses, gas prices, and transaction fees. Click “see more” to get these additional details.

From the display page, users can see if the transaction is successful and have received the requisite confirmation. Conversely, you can access the transaction using the recipient's wallet address. Insert the recipient’s wallet address in the search bar. All the transaction details associated with a particular wallet address will be displayed at the bottom of the page.

Checking Smart Contracts on Etherscan:

Etherscan is quite helpful for users who are regularly in contact with smart contracts of decentralized applications. They can confirm the transfer of funds to the right contract. The smart contract addresses contain information, such as token logic, how the token was transferred, and a “code” tab to access smart contracts’ source code. Users need to copy and paste the contract address on the search icon to access information related to smart contracts.

Moreover, Etherscan also allows users to read contracts and edit them. You can get these features by clicking on the “Read Contract” and “Write Contract” option on Etherscan. If you can read contracts, you can understand what is beneath the transactions. Minting NFTs from smart contracts is another use case of Etherscan. The verified contracts feature a checkmark. Conversely, you will not be able to interact if the contract is not verified. However, if you have access to the application binary interface of a contract, you can interact with an unverified contract as well.

As a whole, Etherscan allows users to search for the contract. You can see the code of contract, its balance, and transactions made to that contract.

Checking gas prices on Etherscan:

“Gas” is a unit used in the Ethereum platform to describe the amount of computational power needed to execute the transaction. In simple words, you have to pay a certain amount to perform a certain transaction on Ethereum. This amount is variable as it depends on the network traffic and the number of blocks included in the transaction. Etherscan offers a dedicated page to track the gas fees of a specific transaction.

This page shows the average gas fee for the last seven days and the last few blocks. This can help you decide the best time for making a transaction. The “gas tracker” feature shows the difference in time and price at different gas prices. Furthermore, Etherscan also roughly predicts the gas fee based on the amount to be transferred and network traffic.

You will find the average gas fee on Etherscan. Below that you will get an estimated cost of the transaction. Higher gas prices reflect the higher speed of the transactions. This price will then be used for your transactions and purchases.

Checking NFTs on Etherscan:

Etherscan has launched another feature in 2021 by which you can directly check your NFTs. This allows users to buy and sell their digital collectibles increasing transparency on transactions and ownership.

For checking NFTs on Etherscan, you need to follow these steps:

  • Click the Etherscan homepage, and find the search bar at the top of the page.
  • Insert your wallet address in the search icon and hit “Search”.
  • In the mid-screen, click ‘Erc721 Token Txns’ to see a list of all NFTs associated with the given wallet address.
  • In order to access additional details, go to the detailed column and click “View NFTs”.

How Does Etherscan Work?

This block explorer serves as a search engine for ethereum. Take it as a Google but for the cryptocurrency world. In fact, these block explorers are called “blockchain browsers” or “blockchain search engines”.

You can access your wallet, transactions, and smart contract and can also identify any suspicious activities. However, Etherscan is not a wallet, it is a source of information that allows users to track their transactions on the Ethereum network, index this information, and add it to its website.

Etherscan combines different technologies, such as blockchain explorers, decentralized applications (Dapps), and Web3 libraries, and displays the information in an easy-to-access format.

The working of Etherscan is based on three parts:

  • Data retrieval
  • Data storage
  • Data production

Data Retrieval:

Etherscan uses an Application Programming Interface (API) to access data. APIs allow one software to interact with another. In the case of Etherscan, the API connects block explorers to the Ethereum blockchain. Etherscan uses JSON-RPC 2.0 specification, which means it utilizes JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) to communicate with Ethereum. These APIs provide users access to the transactions and blocks on Ethereum.

Data Storage:

After retrieving data from the Ethereum blockchain, Etherscan stores the data in the form of relational tables in the “SQL Database”. The relational format means the data in one table is related to the data in other tables. This relationship helps explorers to display information easily.

Data Production:

In this final phase, the data retrieved from the Ethereum blockchain and displayed in the Database is converted to a human-understandable language. Here, Etherscan takes the help of different programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML structures the data on block explorers, CSS gives styles to the content, while JavaScript helps data to interact with the user.

Is Etherscan free?

Yes! Etherscan is a free tool that allows people to check their wallet and transaction status without any service charges. It does not store or hold your cryptocurrency as it is not a cryptocurrency wallet service provider. It just offers an interface to view and track your past transactions. This means you have to avail cryptocurrency exchange service in order to enter or use your ether transactions.

Do you need an account to use Etherscan?

No! You do not need to create an account to access your ether transactions using Etherscan. However, you can open an account to access certain Etherscan features. For instance, you may want to build data streams, utilize toolchains, and set notifications to alert income or expenditure. These add-ons are only available if you open an account on Etherscan. This search engine is managed autonomously by dedicated individuals to make decentralized information and technical apps feasible.


Etherscan is a block explorer and analytics platform. Ethereum blockchain users should be familiar with this powerful and accessible tool. Etherscan helps users to access Ethereum transactions and blocks, interact with smart contracts, and view their NFTs list, among other use cases. Using this technology, you can get to know more about blocks; where they can be found on the blockchain, and who mined them.

It also lets users know how much computational energy was invested in mining them, and how many transactions have been combined to make one particular block. Moreover, this block explorer helps users detect potential errors and vulnerabilities in their ETH transactions. So Etherscan offers a smart way to track all the information broadcasted on blockchain from their point of origin to their ultimate destination.

Matias Lapuschin
Matias Lapuschin
Head of Content Marketing

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