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MetaMask, Ledger and Trezor are all compatible with BIP-44 recovery (seed) phrases a source says. The manual for BIP-44, below, however, says that secondary wallets on the same seed phrase as wallet #1 will only be discovered by external software recovery if they have a transaction history.

Does this mean that, if you created a wallet in MetaMask plus a secondary wallet #2 there, and want to recover these wallets on a different software or device like Ledger, that new Ledger will not detect the secondary wallet if no transactions were performed on it, only the main wallet #1?

Mainly just trying to understand the structure of collective wallets, given that one seed phrase supposedly can have hundreds of wallet addresses belong to it, which sounds like a huge security hole if someone relies on multiple accounts under that one phrase

Source material in question:

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Correct, such wallets (or rather "accounts", as called in the standard) will NOT be discovered. Which is fine, because why would you need to see an account without any transactions, it's of no use.

Technically, all accounts and sub-accounts exist all the time. An account is defined only by a private key, which is just a number (256 bits long). So as long as a number exists, the corresponding account exists. But what would be the reason to show such account if they're never used?

For that reason, software can derive any number of sub-accounts, but will show you only those relevant, i.e. those with some transactions.

If, at some later time, you use account #2 on MetaMask, any other wallet software will discover the account. So it won't be lost.

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  • Metamsk documentation says it will not recover sub-accounts that have account balances under 0.50 ether or something. Please squeeze this in by editing and how this might affect your answer.
    – user610620
    Nov 25, 2022 at 1:17
  • "why would you need to see an account without any transactions"? Because that sub-account may have processed important transactions in its past, despite having a present balance of zero, and the user might want to resume using it upon recovery.
    – user610620
    Nov 27, 2022 at 8:48

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