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A view-only wallet is a special type of wallet that can only see incoming transactions. Since it doesn't hold your mnemonic seed and private spend key, it can't sign transactions and it can't see outgoing transactions. This makes them particularly interesting for
Validate incoming transactions to cold wallets or hardware wallets
Monitor incoming donations to a fundraising campaign
Developers writing libraries to validate payments
View-only wallets cannot sign transactions, therefore they can't spend a balance alone. However, they can be used as part of an offline transaction signing, by creating unsigned transactions to be signed offline in a cold device, and later by sending the signed transaction to the network.
If your wallet has outgoing transactions, the balance displayed will not be correct. To get a correct balance in a view-only wallet, you have to import the accompanying key images of each output of the wallet.
You can also create a view-only wallet of a hardware wallet, however this kind of view-only wallet doesn't support offline transaction signing and importing of key images.
In order to create a view-only wallet, you must either have access to a wallet or know the main address and the private view key from a wallet.
### CLI: Creating a View-Only Wallet from a Private View Key
Open an existing wallet and type `address` and `viewkey` commands to display the wallet's address and its private (secret) view key. Type `exit` to close the wallet.
Next, create your view-only wallet by typing `monero-wallet-cli --generate-from-view-key wallet-name`. The last argument will be your new wallet's file name. You will be prompted for `Standard address` and `View key` by the wallet. Paste in your original wallet's address and private (secret) view key. Next, enter and confirm a password for your new wallet.
### GUI: Creating a View-Only Wallet from an Existing Wallet File
If you have access to the existing wallet, open your wallet and go to `Settings` > `Wallet` > `Create a view-only wallet`:
The view-only wallet file will be created within the same directory and using your current password.
Optionally, double-click the `Success` window to copy the message, then click `OK` to close it:
### GUI: Creating a View-only Wallet from a Private View Key
If you don't have access to the existing wallet, you can create a view-only wallet by knowing the wallet's main address and its private view key.