A desktop wallet for your Bitcoin or other digital currencies is simply a software application that runs on your desktop or laptop computer and stores the private keys for your digital assets. It can also be used to send and receive Bitcoin, and other coins depending on which wallet you’re using. Unless otherwise noted, all the desktop wallets listed below are available in Windows, Linux and OSX versions.
Note: A desktop Bitcoin wallet is only as safe as the computer it runs on. That is to say, the actual wallet software is quite secure in theory, but when installed on a computer connected to the internet they all become vulnerable to malware, viruses and hackers. If you’re holding more than a few hundred dollars worth of Bitcoin and other coins you should definitely consider investing in a more secure hardware wallet, such as the Trezor or Ledger Nano S.
The Armory wallet is one of the oldest wallets, and is considered by many to be the most secure desktop wallet currently available. Used not just by individuals, but also by organizations to store millions of dollars in Bitcoins, the Armory allows for full control of all your private keys, and has the option of being used on an offline computer as a cold storage wallet, as well as offering multi-sig capabilities. It isn’t the most user-friendly wallet if you aren’t technologically savvy however, but the trade-off is the enhanced security of the Armory wallet. Get it here
Bitcoin Core is the official wallet and full core client for the Bitcoin project. A lack of features, a clunky user interface, and slow speeds have prevented it from achieving widespread usage. It does have one redeeming feature that makes it worthwhile, and this is that it functions as a full Bitcoin node. This means it stores a full copy of the entire Bitcoin blockchain, and helps to transmit and verify Bitcoin transactions across the network. Not only does this serve to support the Bitcoin network, it also provides the users with enhanced privacy since the Bitcoin Core wallet has no dependence on any external servers or network peers. If privacy is one of your main concerns, using Bitcoin Core routed through Tor is probably one of your best options. Get it here or at the new Bitcoin Core website here.
Electrum has become one of the most popular Bitcoin desktop wallets due primarily to its speed and ease of use. It looks minimalistic, but comes with a host of features that make it a good choice as a desktop wallet for storing your Bitcoins. If you use it offline it becomes a cold storage wallet. It can also enhance privacy by connecting through Tor, can increase security as a multi-signature wallet, and integrates with many of the popular hardware wallets, such as Trezor and Ledger Nano S. Get it here
Bitcoin Knots was derived from Bitcoin Core in December 2011 to provide enhancements to the Core feature set. Unless you’re an advanced user, you can stick with Bitcoin Core as the enhancements are mostly technical in nature and won’t apply to the mainstream user. Get it here
mSigna is a next-generation multisignature wallet. It supports the best security practices in the industry and is rated amongst the most secure wallets by bitcoin.org. While an advanced tool, it is easy to use. It is very fast, and its inherent scalability offers enterprise-level solutions. And best of all, it’s free and open source. Get it here
Recently mSigna has also released a Litecoin wallet. Get it here
Bither describes itself as a simple and secure Bitcoin wallet, which makes it somewhat ideal for those new to the digital currency scene. In addition to the desktop version it is also available for Androin and iOS devices, giving you increased control over your Bitcoin. One weakness of Bither is its lack of support for multiple addresses and Tor, making it vulnerable to privacy concerns. Get it here
Exodus is an exciting new wallet project that provides users with a beautiful and easy to use interface. All the technical details have been placed behind the scenes, and this wallet functions as a simple to use and easy to understand user interface. It also supports a host of digital assets in addition to Bitcoin, and makes it simple to seamlessly transfer between those assets using ShapeShift. This allows users to easily diversify their cryptocurrency holdings. Exodus currently supports Aragon, Augur, BAT, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Civic, Dash, Decred, District0x, EOS, Ethereum, ETH Classic, FunFair, Gnosis, Golem, Litecoin, OmiseGo, Qtum (ERC20) and SALT. As I said it’s a new wallet, so doesn’t have a lot of history or reviews, but I’m very excited about it as the future of cryptocurrency wallets and am following the project very closely. Get it here
Jaxx is an Ether, Ether Classic, Dash, DAO, Litecoin, REP, and Bitcoin wallet that is in early beta. It is developed by Kryptokit. There had been some complaints of theft from the company, citing the closed source nature of the code, but recently Kryptokit has released the code as open source, which should satisfy those who worry about what the wallet might be doing in the background, without your knowledge. The wallet is cross-platform and you can easily access your coins from your desktop or mobile device. Private keys are never sent over the internet, which is a good security feature. There have been complaints about lack of support, but I’ve never had a need to contact Jaxx support, so can’t verify. Get it here
Copay is an open source, HD‑multisignature wallet from BitPay. Copay enables multiple people to control the funds of a single wallet. Any one of them can propose a transaction, but it takes a certain number of them (from 1-12 depending on the configuration you set) to approve it. This opens up a number of interesting possibilities for everything from large organizations to families looking to democratize their finances and budget. Copay pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with Bitcoin and it unlocks new potential for democratic and fair management of funds by multiple people. Get it here