Setting up a Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

I am grateful for the people who create cryptocurrency hardware wallets, but so frustrated at their pitifully insufficient instructions on how to set up and use them if you’re not a tech savant. I suffered through the trials and errors of setting up my Ledger Nano S hardware wallet (you can marvel at my endurance through this tribulation here).

Here is my succinct guide of how to initiate and set up the Nano S wallet if you’re not a programmer or in FinTech but just a regular schmo trying to protect your crypto assets.

When you open the Ledger Nano S box and are ready to set it up, do this first:

  • Think up a PIN that is between 4 and 8 digits (numbers only).
  • Get the Backup card with 24 numbered lines on it (the Nano S calls this the “Recovery Phrase”)
  • Get a GOOD WORKING PEN (fine tip because some words are long and the space is small)
  • Have a good Internet connection
  • Have a Laptop/Desktop computer (probably works on a tablet too)
  • Have a Chrome browser on your computer
  • Have about 2 hours (will be much less than this if all goes well but %$#! happens)

Plug the USB cord into the Nano S device and the other end into the computer. The device’s tiny LCD screen gives a lesson on how to navigate its interface with its two buttons: Push the Left button to scroll left, push the Right button to scroll right, push BOTH buttons to select something.

After the tutorial you’ll be prompted to enter a PIN. Use the tiny LCD screen and two buttons to enter your PIN. The first digit starts at 0, use the right button to go up by 1. When the number you want as your first digit appears on the little LCD screen, push BOTH buttons, and it moves onto the second digit. If you went too far, keep pushing one button until you see the number you want. After entering the 4th digit, the tiny LCD screen will show a checkmark. If you only have a 4-digit PIN, push both buttons down to select the checkmark – this tells the device you’re finished entering your PIN. If you have more digits in your Pin, use the Right button to scroll past the checkmark and you’ll see a zero, then a 1, then a 2… keep scrolling until you see the digit you want, then push both buttons. The tiny LCD again will show a checkmark. If you only wanted a 5-digit PIN, push both buttons to select the checkmark. Otherwise, use the Right button to scroll through the numbers until you see the number you want. Keep doing this until you have the PIN you want (maximum 8 numbers).If you get to the 8th digit, the Nano S device will not prompt you with more number options. When you enter all of the numbers the LCD prompts you to enter your PIN again to make sure what you input is what you meant to input.

Next, the tiny LCD will prompt you to “write down the recovery phrase” which means get that card with 24 numbered lines on it and a good working fine tip pen. Use the Right button to see the first word. When you wrote it down on the card in space #1, use the Right button to see the next word. When you wrote it on the card in space #2, use the Right button to see the next word. Repeat until all 24 words are written down. At the end of the 24th word, there is no prompt. You should use the Left button to double-check your words (in reverse order). Once you get past word #1, it asks if you want to verify

After scrolling through the words, the interface did not give me a prompt to continue. I pushed the Right button, but nothing happened. So I pushed the Left button, and it scrolled through the words in reverse order. When I got to the first word again, I pushed the Left button one more time, and it quizzed me on the words I just saw: What was word #13? Then it prompted me to scroll through a bunch of random words until I saw the word I wrote in space 13. When I saw the word, I pushed both buttons. Then it asked me to identify word #22. I scrolled through the options until I saw the word I wrote in space #22. I pushed both buttons to select it. Then it told me the device has been configured and is ready to use.

But it’s not really ready yet.

You need to get on a computer with a Chrome browser and go to https://www.ledgerwallet.com/apps/manager

At the top menu bar, click on the Apps link. First you must download the LEDGER MANAGER App. It’s on the right under “Ledger Manager Apps”. This is a Chrome Extension that’s about 2 MB. With a mediocre Internet connection it will install in about 5 minutes.

Next, you must download the specific wallets you need to use. Download the Bitcoin Wallet if you plan to store on your Nano S any Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or coins derived from a Bitcoin Blockchain (I have no idea how you know what’s derived from a Bitcoin Blockchain so I suggest you assume you will need it and download it). This is an extension to your Chrome browser so it’s not very big and doesn’t take long to install.

Download the Ethereum Wallet if you plan to store on your Nano S any Ethereum or coins derived from an Ethereum Blockchain (again, I have no idea how you know what’s derived from an Ethereum Blockchain so I suggest you assume you will need it and download it). It is also an extension to your Chrome browser so it’s not very big and doesn’t take long to install.

Download the Ripple Wallet if you plan to store Ripple on your Nano S. This is the only hardware wallet I found that accepts Ripple, so if you have or plan to have Ripple, download this wallet. THIS IS NOT A CHROME EXTENSION – IT IS A 48 MB FILE that saves to your computer’s hard drive. You need a GOOD internet connection to download this. After you download it, you need to run it and install it onto your computer.

If your Chrome browser is still open, see if there’s a tab open at this URL: chrome://apps/ if not, launch your Chrome browser and go to chrome://apps/ this is where you should see your LEDGER WALLET BITCOIN, LEDGER WALLET ETHEREUM, and LEDGER MANAGER apps.  You won’t see the Ripple Wallet App because it’s not a Chrome extension, it’s a program on your hard drive.

If you’re going to use the Ripple Wallet, you need to install it onto your Nano S device, and you do this with the LEDGER MANAGER app (NOT the Ripple Wallet App!). So make sure your Nano S in UNPLUGGED from your computer, and launch the LEDGER MANAGER in your Chrome browser.

The LEDGER MANAGER will prompt you to plug in your Nano S device and enter the PIN. When the Nano S device wakes up, the screen in the LEDGER MANAGER window shows all of the Wallet Apps it offers. Scroll down until you see RIPPLE, then click on the down arrow to download it into your Nano S. The tiny screen on the Nano S will ask for you for permission to talk to the LEDGER MANAGER app. Click the button on the Nano S with the checkmark under it. In less than a minute, the Ripple wallet appears on the Nano S after the Fido U2F wallet (whatever that is – I’m going to see if I can remove it since I don’t recognize it and doubt I’ll use it).

If you recognize any other wallets you want to download to your Nano S, the process is the same. Scroll through the LEDGER MANAGER window on your computer and when you see a wallet you want, click on the down arrow to its right and it will show up on your Nano S device.

The good folks at Ledger could do a much better job communicating how to set up and use the Nano S. It seems like they exist in their tech bubble, assuming everyone would intuitively understand how these things should work. I found the process extremely frustrating, and would recommend the Trezor wallet because setting it up and using it was so much easier. Their instructions were more complete and the interface is more user friendly. But I persevered with the Ledger Nano S because it seems to support more alt coins and obscure baby coins. The major coins are getting priced out of my reach, so I’m getting more interested in finding and buying the new coins, hoping some (or just one!) will turn into the next big thing. I already wrote about my BABY COIN FEVER which you can read here, and I plan to write more about them since they really seem like the future of crypto currency.

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Editor

Just a regular schmo with a long held fascination for Bitcoin, alt coin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. I am not a coder and not in finance. This blog chronicles my frustrations, mistakes, observations and *occasional* victories as I navigate the digital cash marketplace.

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