A vanity addresses give some amount of human readability to the otherwise random string of letters and numbers known as a Solana wallet address.
If you have ever made a single transaction on the Solana blockchain, there is a very high chance that you have interacted one of these vanity address before. Some of the most well known programs use a vanity address, like these:
- TokenkegQfeZyiNwAJbNbGKPFXCWuBvf9Ss623VQ5DA - SPL Token program
- TokenzQdBNbLqP5VEhdkAS6EPFLC1PHnBqCXEpPxuEb - SPL Token 2022 program
- whirLbMiicVdio4qvUfM5KAg6Ct8VwpYzGff3uctyCc - Orca Whirlpools
- srmqPvymJeFKQ4zGQed1GFppgkRHL9kaELCbyksJtPX -
- perviously Serum, now better! and more open. and no FTX.
You will notice that each of the account addresses start with some readable words (or portions of them). They are all "Vanity Address".
Technical Deep Dive?
You can read all about how Solana addresses are derived and generated in my technical deep dive on it. Including understanding the "derivation path" used to generate vanity address with the Solana CLI. Pretty interesting stuff 😀
How to generate a vanity addresses
The easiest and most common way to generate vanity addresses is using the Solana CLI. So that is what I will demonstrate here as well.
Install the Solana CLI
If you do not have the Solana CLI already installed and setup on your computer, then you can read my other article on How to Setup and Configure the Solana CLI
Make sure you have the solana-keygen program installed and functioning by running:
1solana-keygen --version 2 3# output (note the version) 4# solana-keygen 1.14.11 (src:61876755; feat:3036606309)
Note the version you have installed. This will be important if you want to generate vanity address for use in web/browser wallets like Phantom or Solflare. More on this in a bit.
Using the solana keygen program, we can grind for (aka brute-force generate) new vanity addresses that start with, end with, or starts AND ends with certain characters.
To see all the options you can use to generate random Solana vanity addresses, look at the help for grind:
1solana-keygen grind --help
Solana public addresses and transactions function on the base-58 character set. Essentially meaning, there are only 58 possible characters:
- including uppercase A-Z, excluding uppercase O and I (as in Oscar and India)
- lowercase letters A-Z, excluding lowercase l (as in letter)
- digits 1-9, (which does not include 0)
These specific letters are excluded from the base-58 character set since they can very easily be mistaken for other characters. And if the wrong character is used, then the blockchain address is completely different!
So when you attempt to generate vanity addresses using one of the 4 unsupported characters, the Solana CLI will kick out an error.
Speed of generating vanity addresses
At the current time, the Solana CLI only supports this brute-force method of generating vanity addresses with all the threads of your computer's CPUs. So the more powerful your CPU is, the less time it will take.
Data point: my average range laptop with an Intel i7, 8 core CPU can generate 1,000,000 private key addresses every ~6.3 seconds
The other big factor of how fast you can generate addresses, is the string match you are looking for. The longer the string match (e.g. 4 characters vs 8 characters) and if you are ignoring letter case or not (e.g. "nick" vs "NicK"), the longer it may take.
The last big factor is if you are attempting to generate the mnemonic phrase or just the private key. Generating the mnemonic phrase will take SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER that without
Data point: the same computer from the data point above can generate 1,000,000 mnemonic phrase addresses every ~15-20 minutes. A lot longer.
To start your grind process searching for an address that starts with a set string:
1solana-keygen grind --starts-with nick:1 --ignore-case
This simple command will run until 1 vanity address is found that starts with nick (ignoring the letter case). Simple enough.
Also to note, that once a matching address is found, the private key (in the form of a byte array) will be saved into your terminal's current working directory with the file named <GENERATED_PUBKEY>.json
Matching multiple strings
The grind command also allows you to specify multiple strings you want to search and match. This is usually a more efficient way to search if you are looking for more than one possible vanity address.
To search and match multiple strings, simply specify the --starts-with or --ends-with or --starts-and-ends-with flag (with its value) multiple times. Like so:
1solana-keygen grind --ignore-case --starts-with nick:2 --starts-with burn:2 --ends-with frost:2
This process will continue to run until 2 matches are found for EACH of the given string comparisons. So in the end, this will eventually generate 6 addresses.
Generate with mnemonic phrase
Use a vanity address in a browser wallet
Like I discussed in my technical deep dive on how deriving Solana addresses works, the Solana CLI by default is not setup to generate a mnemonic phrase for an address to use in a web browser wallet. This is because the derivation path is different for the default settings on the CLI and what web browsers wallets (like Phantom and Solflare) use.
So to use a Solana vanity address in a browser wallet, you must change the derivation path use in the grind.
At the time of me writing this (Dec 27, 2022), the current Solana CLI version v1.14.11 does not support changing the derivation path. So you cannot generate a browser wallet compatible vanity address... Sorry. 😑
A wonderful person has submitted and gotten approved a change to the keygen program that adds the ability to change the derivation path to one usable by browser wallets. It is expected to come out in v1.15.0.
So you can either wait for that version to get officially published.... or...
You can download the official Solana source code, build from source, and get access to this wonderful addition now.
This is what I did to start using new feature. Below is how.
PS: I will update this article when the derivation-path flag is available in the regular Solana CLI.
Build from source
This section will be short and to the point. I am assuming you have the Rust compiler installed and git. If you are a developer, especially a Solana dev, then you probably do. (I ran this on Linux, but it should also work find on Mac. Windows? Just stop.)
These are the complete commands that I ran to build the solana-keygen program from source, directly from the Solana repo:
1mkdir solana && cd solana 2git clone https://github.com/solana-labs/solana.git ./ 3cd keygen && ./cargo build --release && cd 4./solana/target/release/solana-keygen --version
After running all these commands, you should see a final output of the solana-keygen version:
1#output (only the version really matters) 2solana-keygen 1.15.0 (src:devbuild; feat:3921999736)
Now you can use the --derivation-path flag to generate browser wallet compatible vanity addresses:
1./solana/target/release/solana-keygen grind --use-mnemonic --derivation-path
Vanity with mnemonic and derivation path
Using the --derivation-path flag will allow you to set a custom derivation path within the Solana CLI. If you do not specify a custom derivation path, this flag will use a hardcoded path of m/44'/501'/0'/0' (which is ready to be used with both Phantom and Solflare).
As apposed to the default the Solana CLI the derivation path of m/44'/501' (which is NOT compatible with browser wallets).
1./solana/target/release/solana-keygen grind --use-mnemonic --derivation-path --starts-with nick:1 --no-passphrase
If you want, you can also set a custom derivation path like so:
1./solana/target/release/solana-keygen grind --use-mnemonic --derivation-path m/44/117/0/0 --starts-with nick:1 --no-passphrase
Add your vanity address into your browser wallet
The mnemonic that is output from this command can be input into your browser wallet of choice and will work!
You can then use any of the other grind flags to customize the vanity addresses you are looking for, and be more usable on the rest of the Solana blockchain 🙃
How I generate vanity addresses
The way I like to generate vanity addresses with mnemonics is by creating a separate grind_keys folder on my computer. Then outputting the generated mnemonics to a text file on my computer.
I then send the process' output to a text file (aka the mnemonics) for later use.
1mkdir grinder_keys && cd grind_keys 2mkdir keys && cd keys 3./solana/target/release/solana-keygen grind --no-passphrase --use-mnemonic --derivation-path --ignore-case --starts-with nick:100 --starts-with more:100 >> ../mnemonics.txt
This allows me to simply run the same grind command every time I start my computer. Making it so I can generate addresses for longer periods of times, like days and weeks, on my desktop computer. With no fear of losing the generated mnemonic.
Then pick-and-chose the best vanity address from the ones it found. Like right now, I am running it looking for a good nick address to use on my Solana Saga Phone (soon) as my new address!