Remember the bdk-cli --help command you ran before? Let’s analyze its output here to figure out the interface:


    -h, --help       Prints help information
    -V, --version    Prints version information

These are the optional flags that can be set with every command. The -h flag prints the help message, the -V flag only prints the version.


If you want to increase the verbosity of the output, you should use the RUST_LOG environment variable. You can set it like so to see a lot more of what’s going on behind the scenes, before running the bdk-cli command. You only have to do this once when you open a new shell, after that you can run the bdk-cli command multiple times.

export RUST_LOG="bdk=debug"


    -c, --change_descriptor <CHANGE_DESCRIPTOR>        Sets the descriptor to use for internal addresses
    -d, --descriptor <DESCRIPTOR>                      Sets the descriptor to use for the external addresses
        --esplora_concurrency <ESPLORA_CONCURRENCY>    Concurrency of requests made to the esplora server [default: 4]
    -e, --esplora <ESPLORA_URL>                        Use the esplora server if given as parameter
    -n, --network <NETWORK>                            Sets the network [default: testnet]
    -p, --proxy <PROXY_SERVER:PORT>                    Sets the SOCKS5 proxy for the Electrum client
    -s, --server <SERVER:PORT>
            Sets the Electrum server to use [default: ssl://]

    -w, --wallet <WALLET_NAME>                         Selects the wallet to use [default: main]

These are the global options that can be set. They are pretty much like the flags, but they also take a value. The only required one is the --descriptor or -d flag, since every wallet must have an associated descriptor.

The --change-descriptor flag can be used to set a different descriptor for the change addresses, sometimes called “internal” addresses in Bitcoin Core. Unfortunately there isn’t really consensus on a nice way to encode information about the change derivation inside the standard descriptor, so we are stuck with having two separate ones. Keep in mind though, that even if you don’t specify a change descriptor, you’ll still be able to create transactions - the change address will simply be generated from the standard descriptor.

The --network flag can be used to change the network. Right now only testnet and regtest are supported since the code is very much not production-ready yet.

The --server flag can be used to select the Electrum server to use. By default it’s connecting to Blockstream’s electrum servers, which seems pretty stable. If you are having connection issues, you can also try with one of the other servers listed here and see if you have more luck with those. Right now both plaintext and ssl servers are supported (prefix tcp:// or no prefix at all for tcp, prefix ssl:// for ssl).

The --esplora flag can be used to connect to an Esplora instance instead of using Electrum. It should be set to the API’s “base url”. For public instances of Esplora this is for mainnet and for testnet.

The --proxy flag can be optionally used to specify a SOCKS5 proxy to use when connecting to the Electrum server. Spawning a local Tor daemon and using it as a proxy will allow you to connect to .onion Electrum URLs. Keep in mind that only plaintext server are supported over a proxy.

The --wallet flag can be used to select which wallet to use, if you have more than one of them. If you get a ChecksumMismatch error when you make some changes to your descriptor, it’s because it does not match anymore the one you’ve used to initialize the cache. One solution could be to switch to a new wallet name, or delete the cache directory at ~/.bdk-bitcoin and start from scratch.


Command Description
broadcast Broadcasts a transaction to the network. Takes either a raw transaction or a PSBT to extract
bump_fee Bumps the fees of an RBF transaction
combine_psbt Combines multiple PSBTs into one
create_tx Creates a new unsigned tranasaction
extract_psbt Extracts a raw transaction from a PSBT
finalize_psbt Finalizes a psbt
get_balance Returns the current wallet balance
get_new_address Generates a new external address
list_transactions Lists all the incoming and outgoing transactions of the wallet
list_unspent Lists the available spendable UTXOs
policies Returns the available spending policies for the descriptor
public_descriptor Returns the public version of the wallet’s descriptor(s)
repl Opens an interactive shell
sign Signs and tries to finalize a PSBT
sync Syncs with the chosen Electrum server

These are the main “functions” of the wallet. Most of them are pretty self explanatory, but we’ll go over them quickly anyways. You can get more details about every single command by running bdk-cli <subcommand> --help.


        --psbt <BASE64_PSBT>    Sets the PSBT to extract and broadcast
        --tx <RAWTX>            Sets the raw transaction to broadcast

Broadcasts a transaction. The transaction can be a raw hex transaction or a PSBT, in which case it also has to be “finalizable” (i.e. it should contain enough partial signatures to construct a finalized valid scriptsig/witness).


    -a, --send_all    Allows the wallet to reduce the amount of the only output in order to increase fees. This is
                      generally the expected behavior for transactions originally created with `send_all`

    -f, --fee_rate <SATS_VBYTE>         The new targeted fee rate in sat/vbyte
    -t, --txid <txid>                   TXID of the transaction to update
        --unspendable <TXID:VOUT>...    Marks an utxo as unspendable, in case more inputs are needed to cover the extra
        --utxos <TXID:VOUT>...          Selects which utxos *must* be added to the tx. Unconfirmed utxos cannot be used

Bumps the fee of a transaction made with RBF. The transaction to bump is specified using the --txid flag and the new fee rate with --fee_rate.

The --send_all flag should be enabled if the original transaction was also made with --send_all.


        --psbt <BASE64_PSBT>...    Add one PSBT to comine. This option can be repeated multiple times, one for each PSBT

Combines multiple PSBTs by merging metadata and partial signatures. It can be used to merge multiple signed PSBTs into a single PSBT that contains every signature and is ready to be finalized.


    -r, --enable_rbf        Enables Replace-By-Fee (BIP125)
        --offline_signer    Make a PSBT that can be signed by offline signers and hardware wallets. Forces the addition
                            of `non_witness_utxo` and more details to let the signer identify the change output
    -a, --send_all          Sends all the funds (or all the selected utxos). Requires only one recipients of value 0

        --to <ADDRESS:SAT>...                      Adds a recipient to the transaction
        --unspendable <CANT_SPEND_TXID:VOUT>...    Marks a utxo as unspendable
        --external_policy <EXT_POLICY>
            Selects which policy should be used to satisfy the external descriptor

        --internal_policy <INT_POLICY>
            Selects which policy should be used to satisfy the internal descriptor

        --utxos <MUST_SPEND_TXID:VOUT>...          Selects which utxos *must* be spent
    -f, --fee_rate <SATS_VBYTE>                    Fee rate to use in sat/vbyte

Creates a new unsigned PSBT. The flags allow to set a custom fee rate (the default is 1.0 sat/vbyte) with --fee_rate or -f, the list of UTXOs that should be considered unspendable with --unspendable (this option can be specified multiple times) and a list of UTXOs that must be spent with --utxos (again, this option can also be specified multiple times).

The --to option sets the receiver address of the transaction, and should contain the address and amount in Satoshi separated by a colon, like: --to 2NErbQPsooXRatRJdrXDm9wKR2fRiZDT9wL:50000. This option can also be specified multiple times to send to multiple addresses at once.

The --send_all flag can be used to send the value of all the spendable UTXOs to a single address, without creating a change output. If this flag is set, there must be only one --to address, and its value will be ignored (it can be set to 0).

The --external_policy and --internal_policy options are two advanced flags that can be used to select the spending policy that the sender intends to satisfy in this transaction. They are normally not required if there’s no ambiguity, but sometimes with a complex descriptor one or both of them have to be specified, or you’ll get a SpendingPolicyRequired error. Those flags should be set to a JSON object that maps a policy node id to the list of child indexes that the user intends to satisfy for that node. This is probably better explained with an example:

Let’s assume our descriptor is: sh(thresh(2,pk(A),sj:and_v(v:pk(B),n:older(6)),snj:and_v(v:pk(C),after(630000)))). There are three conditions and we need to satisfy two of them to be able to spend. The conditions are:

  1. Sign with the key corresponding to pk(A)
  2. Sign with the key corresponding to pk(B) AND wait 6 blocks
  3. Sign with the key corresponding to pk(C) AND wait that block 630,000 is reached

So if we write down all the possible outcomes when we combine them, we get:

  1. Sign with pk(A) + pk(B) + wait 6 blocks
  2. Sign with pk(A) + pk(C) + wait block 630,000
  3. Sign with pk(B) + pk(C) + wait 6 blocks + wait block 630,000

In other words:

  • If we choose option #1, the final transaction will need to have the nSequence of its inputs set to a value greather than or equal to 6, but the nLockTime can stay at 0.
  • If we choose option #2, the final transaction will need to have its nLockTime set to a value greater than or equal to 630,000, but the nSequence can be set to a final value.
  • If we choose option #3, both the nSequence and nLockTime must be set.

The wallet can’t choose by itself which one of these combination to use, so the user has to provide this information with the --external_policy flag.

Now, let’s draw the condition tree to understand better how the chosen policy is represented: every node has its id shown right next to its name, like qd3um656 for the root node. These ids can be seen by running the policies command. Some ids have been omitted since they are not particularly relevant, in this example we will actually only use the root id.

graph TD; subgraph " " R["Root - qd3um656"] --> A["pk(A) - ykfuwzkl"] R["Root - qd3um656"] --> B["B - ms3xjley"] B["B - ms3xjley"] --> B_0["pk(B)"] B["B - ms3xjley"] --> B_1["older(6)"] end C["C - d8jph6ax"] --> C_0["pk(C)"] C["C - d8jph6ax"] --> C_1["after(630,000)"] R["Root - qd3um656"] --> C["C - d8jph6ax"]

Let’s imagine that we are walking down from the root, and we want to use option #1. So we will have to select pk(A) + the whole B node. Since these nodes have an id, we can use it to refer to them and say which children we want to use. In this case we want to use children #0 and #1 of the root, so our final policy will be: --external_policy {"qd3um656":[0,1]}.


        --psbt <BASE64_PSBT>    Sets the PSBT to extract

Extracts the global transaction from a PSBT. Note that partial signatures are ignored in this step. If you want to merge the partial signatures back into the global transaction first, please use finalize_psbt first


        --psbt <BASE64_PSBT>        Sets the PSBT to finalize
        --assume_height <HEIGHT>    Assume the blockchain has reached a specific height

Tries to finalize a PSBT by merging all the partial signatures and other elements back into the global transaction. This command fails if there are timelocks that have not yet expired, but the check can be overridden by specifying --assume_height to make the wallet assume that a future height has already been reached.


This subcommand has no extra flags, and simply returns the available balance in Satoshis. This command should normally be called after sync, since it only looks into the local cache to determine the list of UTXOs.


This subcommand has no extra flags and returns a new address. It internally increments the derivation index and saves it in the database.


This subcommand has no extra flags and returns the history of transactions made or received by the wallet, with their txid, confirmation height and the amounts (in Satoshi) “sent” (meaning, the sum of the wallet’s inputs spent in the transaction) and “received” (meaning, the sum of the outputs received by the wallet). Just like get_balance it should normally be called after sync, since it only operates on the internal cache.


This subcommand has no extra flags and returns the list of available UTXOs and their value in Satoshi. Just like get_balance it should normally be called after sync, since it only operates on the internal cache.


This subcommand has no extra flags and returns the spending policies encoded by the descriptor in a more human-readable format. As an example, running the policies command on the descriptor shown earlier for the in the explanation of the create_tx command, it will return this:

This is a tree-like recursive structure, so it tends to get huge as more and more pieces are added, but it’s in fact fairly simple. Let’s analyze a simple node of the tree:

  • id is a unique identifier to this specific node in the tree.

  • type, as the name implies, represents the type of node. It defines what should be provided to satisfy that particular node. Generally some other data are provided to give meaning to the type itself (like the pubkey field here in the example). There are basically two families of types: some of them can only be used as leaves, while some other can only be used as intermediate nodes.

    Possible leaf nodes are:

    • SIGNATURE, requires a signature made with the specified key. Has a pubkey if it’s a single key, a fingerprint if the key is an xpub, or a pubkey_hash if the full public key is not present in the descriptor.
    • SIGNATUREKEY, requires a signature plus the raw public key. Again, it can have a pubkey, fingerprint or pubkey_hash.
    • SHA256PREIMAGE, requires the preimage of a given hash.
    • HASH256PREIMAGE, requires the preimage of a given hash.
    • RIPEMD160PREIMAGE, requires the preimage of a given hash.
    • HASH160PREIMAGE, requires the preimage of a given hash.
    • ABSOLUTETIMELOCK, doesn’t technically require anything to be satisfied, just waiting for the timelock to expire. Has a value field with the raw value of the timelock (can be both in blocks or time-based).
    • RELATIVETIMELOCK, again only requires waiting for the timelock to expire. Has a value like ABSOLUTETIMELOCK.

    Possible non-leaf nodes are:

    • THRESH, defines a threshold of policies that has to be met to satisfy the node. Has an items field, which is a list of policies to satisfy and a threshold field that defines the threshold.
    • MULTISIG, Similar to THRESH, has a keys field, which is a list of keys represented again as either pubkey, fingerprint or pubkey_hash and a threshold field.
  • satisfaction is currently not implemented and will be used to provide PSBT introspection, like understanding whether or not a node is already satisfied and to which extent in a PSBT.

  • contribution represents if so and how much, the provided descriptor can contribute to the node.

    The possible types are:

    • NONE, which means that the descriptor cannot contribute.
    • COMPLETE, which means that the descriptor by itself is enough to completely satisfy the node. It also adds a condition field which represent any potential extra condition that has to be met to consider the node complete. An example are the timelock nodes, that are always complete but they have an extra csv or timelock condition.
    • PARTIAL, which means that the descriptor can partially satisfy the descriptor. This adds a m, n, items that respectively represent the threshold, the number of available items to satisfy and the items that the provided descriptor can satisfy. Also adds a conditions field which is an integer to list of conditions map. The key is the child index and the map are all the possibile extra conditions that have to be satisfied if that node is used in the threshold. For instance, if you have a threshold of a SIGNATURE and a RELATIVETIMELOCK, in this order, the conditions field will be 1 ⇒ csv(x), because the item at index 1 needs the extra csv condition.
    • PARTIALCOMPLETE, which is basically a PARTIAL with the size of items >= m. It’s treated as a separate entity to make the code a bit more clean and easier to implement. Like PARTIAL, it also has a m, n, items fields but the conditions field is a bit different: it’s a list of integers to list of conditions map. The key represents the combination that can be used to satisfy the threshold, and the value contains all the possible conditions that also have to be satisfied. For instance, if you have a 2-of-2 threshold of a TIMELOCK and a RELATIVETIMELOCK, the conditions field will be [0, 1] ⇒ csv(x) + timelock(y), because if the combination of items 0 and 1 is picked, both of their conditions will have to be meet too.

While the structure contains all of the intermediate nodes too, the root node is the most important one because defines how the descriptor can contribute to spend outputs sent to its addresses.

For instance, looking at the root node of the previous example (with the internal items omitted) from a descriptor that has all the three private keys for keys A, B and C, we can clearly see that it can satisfy the descriptor (type = PARTIALCOMPLETE) and the three options are [0, 1] ⇒ csv(6) (Option #1), [0, 2] ⇒ timelock(630,000) (Option #2) or [1, 2] ⇒ csv(6) + timelock(630,000) (Option #3).

      "[0, 1]":[
      "[0, 2]":[
      "[1, 2]":[


This subcommand has no extra flags and returns the “public” version of the wallet’s descriptor(s). It can be used to bootstrap a watch-only instance for the wallet.


This subcommand has no extra flags and launches an interactive shell session.


          --psbt <BASE64_PSBT>        Sets the PSBT to sign
          --assume_height <HEIGHT>    Assume the blockchain has reached a specific height. This affects the transaction
                                      finalization, if there are timelocks in the descriptor

Adds to the PSBT all the signatures it can produce with the secrets embedded in the descriptor (xprv or WIF keys). Returns the signed PSBT and, if there are enough item to satisfy the script, also the extracted raw Bitcoin transaction.

Optionally, the assume_height option can be specified to let the wallet assume the blockchain has reached a specific height. This affects the finalization of the PSBT which is done right at the end of the signing process: the wallet tries to satisfy the spending condition of each input using the partial signatures collected. In case timelocks are present the wallet needs to know whether or not they have expired. This flag is particularly useful for offline wallets.


This subcommand has no extra flags. It connects to the chosen Electrum server and synchronizes the list of transactions received and available UTXOs.