I purchased ether during the presale. Is there an easy way to import those ether and start using them?

  • 2
    Please search all your emails for the phrase Ethereum Ether Sale Backup Wallet. It will be an email from [email protected] sometime in summer of 2014. If you claim you never got emailed the JSON, then I'm sorry but I don't know how you would ever have a private key.
    – tayvano
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 3:16

5 Answers 5


Using Mist (Update 27th of February 2016)

It is now possible to import your pre-sale wallet in the official Mist wallet, version 0.4.0 and up. No more command line interface required.

To import your presale via Mist / Ethereum Wallet, start it up, let it sync (takes a day or so), go to "Accounts" -> "Import Pre-Sale Accounts". That's it.

In some versions ~0.5.0, it would return a "invalid" password even when the password was correct. If that happens to you and you are sure your password is correct, you can import using Geth (below) and it'll automagically show up in Mist.

Using Geth (Original text)

Geth has the ability to import a pre-sale wallet.

You can do this using geth wallet import path/to/presale.wallet. You can also add a --password flag with a path to a file containing your password to do it non-interactively.

Once Geth has your wallet you can use the official Ethereum wallet to start interacting with your Ether.


It depends on what you want to do with the ethers held in your presale wallet account.


Just to clarify what keys you have, here is a example of a set of keys:

  • Unencrypted private key: 79d4c2a3bb457add08a4eb3a1c222235899a93d77a5a2e67704994212861e222

  • Private key encrypted with the password testtest: U2FsdGVkX1+Sg2mtrl7F2Pyof6qXjCOVlqq3KTD02lo5fWPf1aMFW8aSVdokpd1fd+sKvmlfyZqC5hdud4kVzT4K4BZFZBD4BjNf6Y9OlMtI6gVKGSOJvzmJ3pyGebwe5b7a

  • Public key: 0x0d43Fb0eD37f9B30685E338bBC7B5EC0DCca2c26

You should have your encrypted private key, and password to decrypt your encrypted private key and your public key.

Verify Keys

If you just want to verify that you have access to use your presale wallet ethers, you can enter your encrypted private key with the password into MyEtherWallet or the EthAddress.org wallet . If the public key generated by these wallets match your presale public key, you have the necessary information to spend your ethers at a later date. You can check that your ether amount is correct by entering your public key on the blockchain explorers https://etherchain.org/ or https://etherscan.io/ .

Spend Ethers

When you want to spend some or all of your ethers, use the Ethereum Mist wallet or MyEtherWallet. The Ethereum Mist wallet only allows you to import your unencrypted private key, while MyEtherWallet will import both unencrypted and encrypted private keys. Once loaded, you can send your ethers to a destination address.

Ethereum Mist Wallet

The Ethereum Mist Wallet runs with a full Ethereum node in the background that will take up 13 Gb (currently) of disk space for the blockchain data and may take several days to synchronise the blockchain with the Ethereum network. This wallet will allow you to import the JSON presale wallet in the front-end GUI. You will have to the use backend "geth" Ethereum node software to import your unencrypted private key. You can download this software from https://github.com/ethereum/mist/releases .

See Is there a way to manually import a private key into Mist? on how to import your private key using the "geth" program to import your unencrypted private key into the wallet.

Once your private key is imported into geth, your account will appear in the Ethereum Wallet application and you can spend your ethers.


As you most likely have an encrypted private key, MyEtherWallet is your best bet. You can run the wallet from the website https://www.myetherwallet.com/ . You can also download the source code (HTML and JavaScript) from https://github.com/kvhnuke/etherwallet and run this on your local computer. If you are security conscious, you can run parts of this wallet with sensitive information on a computer not connected to the Internet.

There is an Send Transaction tab where you can paste your encrypted private key. The web page will then prompt you to enter your password. Then click on the Decrypt button. You don't have to send any transactions if you want to just verify your private key.

EthAddress.org Wallet

You can use the wallet at https://ryepdx.github.io/ethaddress.org/ to convert your encrypted key + password into an unencrypted key. As with MyEtherWallet, you can run this wallet directly from the website, or you can download the source code from https://github.com/ryepdx/ethaddress.org onto a computer not connected to the Internet and run the wallet software if you are concerned about security.

Click on the Import Wallet option on the left of the screen. You can then paste your encrypted private key and click Unlock. You will find your unencrypted private key on the bottom of the image, displayed upside-down.

You can now use this unencrypted private key to import into the Ethereum Mist wallet.

  • Thank you first for the response. I have the public key in which I can see the amount in my wallet. I am not sure if I have the private key because I have not got to that stage in Mist. It is asking to drag the Json file which was never emailed to me. I have the public the character text character password and what I am guess is the private key. How do I proceed past the drag file?
    – Art
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 1:02
  • 1
    Try out the MyEtherWallet option which will allow you to verify if you have the correct encrypted private key and the password to unlock this encrypted private key. And please refresh this page as I've just improved the information. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 1:12

The easy way

Kraken has a super easy tool for importing presale wallets, and it's super convenient if you want to be able to trade the ether. There's another similar tool here

The safe way

If you don't want to give an exchange access to your funds, you should download the command line client, geth, and use the command

geth wallet import /path/to/my/presale.wallet

See the Ethereum Gitbook for more details


I like using this tool - make sure you're on the right site and there's a green lock on the address bar - learn some coding if you want to use the safe way:


It's pretty easy to import your wallet.

  • 1
    So far, this one is the best combination between security and ease of use that's been suggested. Another one is ethereumwallet.com (full disclosure: I am the former CTO of KryptoKit, the company that makes ethereumwallet.com) Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 3:53
  • I always feel a bit icky by these kind of solutions. I wouldn't feel safe 'uploading' my wallet onto a third party server, even if it's just running client side. A server can get hacked, the javascript replaced. It's hard to guarantee security.
    – Maran
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 8:45
  • I know what you mean--but at least directly inspectable javascript is a step up from just putting your ether straight into a non-decentralised exchange. Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 16:37
  • Sorry - I know less coding...it's been a struggle sending transactions. I find something like this is easy. I vetted them first, but it's not the safest...definitely easy though.
    – high110
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 16:45
  • @Maran there is no server that you send anything to except the signed transaction when you send a transaction. Private keys and everything else is 100% client side. If you are worried, download the source and run it locally on an offline computer.
    – tayvano
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 2:32

Unfortunately, it appears you didn't follow instructions by keeping the json wallet file. If you only have the password, your ether is lost, as clearly stated in ether sale documentation, instructions, and FAQ:


KEEP YOUR WALLET AND PASSWORD safe. Without your wallet AND password, your ether will be unrecoverable, permanently.

If you didn't receive the wallet when you made the purchase, the same FAQ says: "Contact [email protected] immediately."


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