I am trying to call web3.personal.listAccounts. It can only be called asynchronously.

I get this error Error: You tried to send "personal_listAccounts" synchronously. Synchronous requests are not supported by the IPC provider.

Does anyone know the syntax to call this asynchronously?

Where does the callback function fit here?

Thank you


If you haven't used callbacks before, you're in for a bit of a treat. ;-) The general idea is something like leaving a phone number instead of waiting. So, "Call me back at this number." That instruction gets passed into the asynchronous function.

In this case, we're saying do something (a function) when ready. That's the "callback".

The callback functions take an error (if any) and a response. Then, inside the callback function we decide what to do. Since we know we'll get a two-part reply (error, if any, and response), we get to name those inputs and deal with them by name inside the function.

In this example, https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/JavaScript-API#using-callbacks, the last argument is the callback. In that convention, the arguments all go into the function, including what to do with the reply. The last argument is a callback function. So, we're saying "Take the two-part response I know you'll return, and pass it into a function that looks like {this}.

If I haven't completely lost you yet, we can adapt that pattern to the web3.eth.getAccounts() function that returns an array.

// scope them up here so they're useful outside the callback
var accounts;
var defaultAccount;

web3.eth.getAccounts(function(error, response){
    // this will wait for the response asynchronously 
    if(!error) { // error == 0, so let's process the response
        console.log(response); // print it
        accounts = response;  // remember it
        defaultAccount = accounts[0]; // do something with it
        // carry on
     } else {
        console.error(error); // there was an error, so let's see it.
}) // notice how } marks the end of the function we passed IN to web3.personal.listAccounts() and ) marks the end of the request.

// whatever happens here WILL NOT WAIT for the callback to happen.

For things to unfold in a predictable (controlled) sequence, you have to nest inside callbacks. At // carry on you can add something that should happen next. That leads to something called callback hell, meaning the nesting of the code gets unwieldy.

It's probably better to master it at this level before moving to a higher level of abstraction called promises that twists the syntax one more time.

Hope it helps.

  • Thank you for your response. I am familiar with callbacks, unfortunately web3.personal.listAccounts doesnt allow for inputting the callback within parentesis as you suggested. Doing so gives a "web3.personal.listAccounts is not a function" TypeError – Dino Anastos Aug 14 '17 at 6:09
  • TypeError: web3.personal.listAccounts is not a function – Dino Anastos Aug 14 '17 at 6:09
  • I changed it to web3.eth.getAccounts() and touched up a few other issues I munged up on my freestyle attempt ;-) – Rob Hitchens Aug 14 '17 at 6:56
  • What do you do if you want to force the call to finish before continuing, as opposed to putting all the rest of the code you'll ever do inside the "//carry on" block? – Fred Douglis Mar 7 '18 at 19:06

You can get an Array of all the account addresses controlled by your node with:


They are returned synchronously as strings in the hex format: "0x00...."

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