The volatile nature of Bitcoin and crypto assets, in general, makes digital currencies an exciting investment opportunity. Apart from buying them on crypto exchanges, you can get some crypto coins if you mine them yourself. The procedure of mining cryptocurrencies is similar across different coins except that it differs in terms of the employed hashing algorithms and consensus mechanisms.
Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, Bitcoin mining became more and more centralized and rather monopolized. This is one of the main reasons behind the emergence of Litecoin (LTC), an altcoin whose hashing algorithm, at least in the beginning, consumed less power and electricity and could be done on a regular laptop. However, while solo mining is still possible and you can mine Litecoin on your Mac, if you are looking to make a sustainable business model out of mining, you will need stronger mining hardware.
Before we get into the details of how to mine Litecoin on your Mac, it is a good idea to explain how cryptocurrency mining works using the world’s first cryptocurrency as an example.
What Mining Software Do You Need to Mine Cryptocurrency?
Mining cryptocurrencies is a way to obtain digital currency without paying for them directly on an exchange. Mining is also an essential part of keeping the blockchain network alive and secure. When mining Bitcoin, miners actually verify the incoming transactions on the blockchain, thus keeping the cryptocurrency network functional.
When Bitcoin was first invented in 2009, everyone with a regular computer, generally a CPU-based one, could easily mine new coins. However, as mining became more and more profitable, more miners entered the market, and the mining equipment advanced significantly over time. GPUs are graphics cards designed to render high-resolution video graphics, which were utilized for mining thanks to their parallel processing capacity. Later, in 2012, the first ASIC miner, designed solely for mining cryptocurrency, was introduced. Its processing power was 200 times greater than the GPU models at the time. Because ASICs caused massive leaps in mining difficulty, mining on general-purpose computers became unprofitable.
The hash rates of GPUs and ASIC miners are extremely higher than old-timer CPUs. At the moment, solo mining without an ASIC miner is virtually impossible. Moreover, to increase efficiency, some miners not only adopted high-tech mining gear, but also pooled their resources, and located them where electricity is cheaper. This way, crypto mining became a business model, a seriously centralized one.
Because there are miners who take their business very seriously, it is impossible to compete in the market independently. For this reason, the best thing you can do is join a mining pool where people with relatively low computing power combine their hash rates and split the prize accordingly. This way, you can generate a small but steady flow of income, rather than waiting to earn a reward for decades.
Litecoin is one of the descendants of Bitcoin, meaning it uses Bitcoin’s open-source core algorithm, the Proof of Work protocol, with a few tweaks. It has a reduced generation time – 10 minutes for Bitcoin as opposed to 2.5 minutes for Litecoin – and a significantly high cap of total coins that can be mined – 22 million BTC versus 84 million LTC). Apart from these technical details, mining Bitcoin and Litecoin is pretty much the same.
In order to mine Litecoin, miners compete to solve some sort of a puzzle that encrypts the transaction and adds it to the blockchain. This puzzle is so complicated that you can’t really solve it logically. Instead, you use hashing algorithms, such as Bitcoin’s famous SHA-256 algorithm or Ethereum’s Ethash algorithm.
Similar to these, Litecoin uses the scrypt algorithm. What miners do is take a very long digit number, run the algorithm on it and return the output as their guess to the puzzle. The solving process is continuous, and every miner, some with the capacity to make millions of guesses in a second, competes for the solution. Whoever solves the puzzle first enters the block in the blockchain and wins the prize, which is, you guessed it, a small number of crypto coins or 12.5 LTC to be precise.
Is Mining Litecoin Profitable?
Because of the immense competition over computing power over the years, it is practically impossible to profit from mining Litecoin on your computer without special equipment. In summary, GPU mining and ASIC mining get the greatest share of the profit in the market, and unfortunately, CPU mining is only meaningful as a hobby project.
If you are interested in cryptocurrency mining, you might have heard about Bitmain’s mining operations in Mongolia. To mine Litecoin and Bitcoin, Bitmain utilizes around 25,000 mining rigs. This is a great example of how the mining profitability for casual crypto enthusiasts has decreased significantly.
To give you a better perspective, even if you run your GPU constantly over a year with an average hash power of 15 kh/s, you would mine around 0.0003841 LTC, which amounts to nothing. Plus you need to consider the electricity bill and the depreciation of your valuable device. So the answer is, no. Mining Litecoin on your general-purpose computer is not profitable.
However, if you still want to do it, here is a tutorial for beginners.
Beginner’s Guide to Mining Litecoin on Your Mac
Before we list the steps in detail, here’s what you need to start mining Litecoin:
- An os x computer (a Mac desktop, a MacBook, or a MacBook Pro)
- Litecoin wallet
- Stable internet connection
- Proper mining software
First, you need to get yourself a Litecoin wallet where you can store your earnings from mining. For this, there are a wide variety of wallet providers with their own pros and cons, such as Stratum, Coinbase, or Mycelium. However, the official Litecoin Client is more than sufficient at this point.
To download the official Litecoin client, go to litecoin.org and download the latest Litecoin Core client for Mac OS X. Don’t download it from any other website other than the official Litecoin website. When the download is complete, go to your Downloads folder and find the “litecoin core dmg” file. Right-click on it and open it with DiskImageMounter. Then move Litecoin Core into the Applications folder and open it.
Once in Litecoin Core, select Receive Tab and write “ltc” on the Label bar. Then click on “Request Payment”. You will see a pop-up window with your public key on it. Copy the key and close the pop-up window. You will need this key later on.
Join a Litecoin Mining Pool
Open your internet browser and go to litecoinpool.org. Click on “Join” to create an account. When creating an account, you will select the Main Hardware that you want to do the mining on. If a CPU is all you have, by now you know that it is not profitable to do mining with it, so you can ignore the warning. Otherwise, pick the hardware you own.
If you don’t know your GPU model, click on the Apple icon in the top right corner of your screen and go to “About This Mac”. You will see the hardware specifications of your computer. You should see your GPU model next to the “Graphics” label.
After you log in with your account, you will see your account information. Now you have to add your miners. Under Worker, you will see a slot with your username. Add an extension to it and create a password. Then click on “Add Worker”. This is your worker bot that is going to do the mining for you.
Scroll down the page and find “Payment address” under Account Settings and paste your Litecoin wallet address from the Litecoin Core next to it so that you can receive your mined coins. Then click “Save Settings”.
Set Up You Mining Software
The next thing you need is miner software. For this, there are various different services out there. The best one for you depends on your level of experience and your hardware. You can choose the optimum mining software for yourself.
To mine Litecoin on your Mac’s CPU or GPU, you can either use SourceForge CPU or GPU miner. Go to sourceforge.net/projects/cpuminer/ or sourceforge.net/projects/gpuminer/ depending on your hardware and download the latest client for macOS X. Then go to your downloads and open the zip file. In the zip file, you will see a file named “minerd”. Copy and paste the file on applications. Then open the file “minerd”.
You will see a terminal with command lines; you should wait until you see “process completed” and then close the terminal. Next, go back to litecoinpool.org/minercofig. On the Miner Configuration page, choose your configuration and click on “Generate”.
Following the instructions click on the “Download” link and put the downloaded file in the application folder where you put your miner’s executable file. Then open the terminal on your Mac and enter “cd /Application % chmod +x ./mine.sh; ./mine.sh” and hit enter.
This will set your mining going.
Mining cryptocurrency is a risky activity. Every step, from downloading a client to running your processor on mining involves certain considerations. The software you choose to download might include malware and running your GPU for a long period will definitely wear down your mining hardware if it doesn’t burn it. Plus, we have already discussed that CPU and GPU mining is not profitable at the moment. Our advice is to make sure you know the risks involved before starting to mine cryptocurrencies.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Now you know that mining Litecoin, Bitcoin or any other popular cryptocurrency on your personal device is hardly profitable because of the ASIC miners and large-scale coin mining. However, there is no need to be discouraged from the technical side of the mining business. You can still do it for the sake of doing it and become a hobby miner.
However, now that you have more in-depth knowledge of cryptocurrency mining, you can evaluate your decisions better and decide whether mining Litecoin on your Mac is worth the effort.