With over 1 million units sold worldwide, the Ledger Nano S is the most popular hardware wallet. The device is praised for its security and its support for a wide variety of coins. If you do not already own one, you can purchase a Ledger Nano S here.
This guide provides complete step by step instructions on how to setup a new Ledger Nano S hardware wallet, using the Ledger Live application.
Ledger Live is the official desktop application from Ledger that acts as an interface with the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet. Your private key, which is used to retrieve all of your cryptoassets from the blockchain, still will be stored safely offline in the Ledger Nano S.
Ledger Live is only the interface that lets you send and receive transactions, setup accounts and view your balances on a Ledger wallet.
Download and install Ledger Live
- Go to https://www.ledger.com/pages/ledger-live.
- Click on “Download” and choose whether you want the Desktop or Mobile app.
- Open the application and install it on your computer.
- The installation should not take more than a few minutes and when it is completed, you should see the Ledger Live icon on your desktop. The icon is a white circle with two blue curved lines.
Create a 4-8 digit PIN code
- Double click the icon to open Ledger Live.
- You will see a screen that shows: “Get started with your Ledger device.” Choose the first option, “Initialize as new device.” Then select the Ledger Nano S and click “Continue.”
- Now the screen will show: “Choose Your Pin Code.” Connect the Ledger Nano S via the USB cord to your computer. On the Ledger Nano S, pressing both buttons at the same time acts as a “Select” or “Continue.” When we say “Press both buttons” we mean press both buttons of the Ledger Nano S at the same time.
- Press both buttons now to begin.
- When the screen on the Ledger Nano S reads “Configure as new device,” press (only) the right button to select this option.
- Press both buttons to “Choose a PIN code.” The PIN code is between four and eight digits long and it protects your assets in case someone else gets a hold of your Ledger device. Make sure to remember or write down your PIN code.
- Use the left and right buttons to scroll through the digits. When you reach the number you want as the first digit, press both buttons to select it. Do the same for the rest of the digits.
- If you want a PIN code that is less than eight digits, then scroll down to the checkmark after your last digit and then press both buttons to confirm. To delete a digit, scroll down to the “x” and then press both buttons.
- The Ledger Nano S screen will ask you to “Confirm your PIN code.” Press both buttons and reenter your pin.
Write down your recovery phrase (word seed)
- The Ledger Nano S screen will show: “Write down your recovery phrase.” This is the most important step. The Ledger device will generate a 24 word recovery phrase that you will copy on paper in its entirety. This recovery phrase, also called a “word seed” is a representation of a “Master key” that is used to access and own all of your cryptoassets.
- All of your cryptoassets are actually stored on the blockchain and not on a hardware or software wallet. The word seed acts as a key that allows you to access and claim ownership of these cryptoassets. Whoever has the word seed will be able to control all of your cryptoassets that correspond to that word seed.
- NEVER take a picture of the word seed, never type the word seed into a computer or a mobile device, and never enter the word seed into any device that is connected online. The security of your Ledger Nano S depends on you keeping the word seed entirely offline.
- Furthermore, if your Ledger Nano S gets lost, stolen, damaged or reset, you will be able to recover access to all of your cryptoassets as long as you have the word seed. The word seed comes from a standardized list known as BIP39. This means that you can recover all of your cryptoassets by entering the word seed into another Ledger Nano S, another hardware wallet such as a Trezor, or even a software wallet such as Electrum or Abra.