Store and mint NFTs on Solana with Metaplex

Solana is a high-performance, permissionless blockchain that has rapidly grown and found an enthusiastic community in the NFT space.

With NFT.Storage, you can upload all the off-chain data for your Solana NFTs, including images, videos, animations, and metadata, leveraging the power of decentralized storage to preserve your NFT data and make it available on the web. NFT.Storage uses IPFS to reference data with using a universal identifier (meaning no one can argue what your NFT is of), and Filecoin to provide multi-generational, verifiable storage (with on-chain, cryptographic proofs trustlessly showing that those saying are storing your data are actually doing so, and storage designed to get cheaper as the network grows). Read more about NFT.Storage here!

You can upload data for Solana NFTs with or without an NFT.Storage account! By using a signature from your Solana wallet, you (or your users, if you're building a platform) can make free uploads to NFT.Storage without an NFT.Storage API key.

At the most fundamental level, an NFT on Solana is defined by the Solana Program Library's Token program, which enables the creation of both fungible and non-fungible tokens on Solana. While it's possible to create NFTs through the Token program directly, tokens created in this way have no associated metadata or intrinsic "meaning" and are essentially just unique identifiers that can be owned by a Solana account.

To build feature-rich NFTs, the Solana community has developed standards on top of the basic NFT functionality provided by the Token program which allow "decorating" a token with metadata describing the token and its properties.

This guide will focus on Metaplex, which is currently the most popular and fully featured NFT standard on Solana, enabling thousands of NFT projects.

Metaplex NFT overview

Metaplex NFTs consist of a few pieces that work together to provide the complete "NFT experience".

First, an SPL token account is created using the SPL Token program with a supply of one (with zero decimals or "fractional tokens"), making the token non-fungible. This new account is referred to as the "token mint" and is controlled by the token creator's Solana account.


As of version 1.1 of the Metaplex Token Standard, Metaplex also supports "semi-fungible" tokens that can have a supply greater than one. These are called "Fungible Assets" in the Metaplex docs. We won't be covering them in this guide, but it's good to know they're there!

The newly created token account is then registered with the Metaplex Token Metadata contract, which stores some information about the token "on-chain" in a Solana account. The information stored on chain includes the name of the token, a short symbol, some information about the token creators and royalty splits, and a URI that points to a JSON document with more metadata.

The URI for the extended metadata is important, as the extended metadata contains all the information about the images and other media files associated with the NFT, as well as things like a description and whatever custom properties you might need.

There are many ways to create and distribute Metaplex NFTs, some of which are tailored for a particular use case. This guide will focus on "Candy Machines", which are designed to mint NFTs in a random, unpredictable manner upon request, similar to a gumball machine that dispenses a random flavor when given a coin.

Candy Machines are often used for generative art NFTs and profile pic (PFP) collections, where hundreds or thousands of NFTs may comprise a collection. Our example will be smaller in scope, but you can scale up the technique as far as you need.

Later you'll use a tool called the Candy Machine CLI to handle the process of uploading NFT data, creating the token, and minting NFTs. First, see the section below to learn how to prepare your metadata for upload.

Preparing your metadata

Before you can configure and create a Candy Machine, you'll need to prepare some metadata that describes each NFT in the collection.

The Metaplex Token Standard defines the standard metadata fields for Metaplex NFTs. This includes two separate metadata blobs: an on-chain metadata component, and an off-chain JSON file with extended metadata.

The on-chain metadata contains the public keys of the Solana accounts that are authorized to mint and update the NFT, as well as some infromation about whether the NFT has been sold, what collection it belongs to, and other pieces of "state" relating to the NFT.

The on-chain metadata also includes a uri field that links to a JSON document with details about the NFT, along with a few fields from the JSON metadata that are preserved on-chain, such as the name and symbol.

For this guide, we're mostly going to focus on the JSON document with the off-chain metadata. The parts relating to keys and ownership will be covered in the Candy Machine configuration section below.

This is the basic off-chain metadata format for a very simple Metaplex NFT:

"name": "NFT.Storage Example #0",
"symbol": "NFTDOT",
"description": "A text description of this NFT",
"image": "0.png",
"attributes": [
{"trait_type": "edification", "value": "100"}
"properties": {
"creators": [
{"address": "N4f6zftYsuu4yT7icsjLwh4i6pB1zvvKbseHj2NmSQw", "share": 100}
"files": [
{"uri": "0.png", "type": "image/png"}

The name, symbol, and description fields are standard descriptive properties that allow you to attach a human-readable name and text description to the NFT, along with a short token symbol.

The image field specifies the filename of the main image for the NFT. Right now it points to a local file, 0.png, which needs to be in the same directory as this JSON file. Once the image is uploaded to NFT.Storage, 0.png will be replaced with a link to the uploaded file before the metadata is stored.

The attributes array allows you to tag your NFT with various "traits", the meaning of which is entirely up to you. For example, if you're writing a game, your NFT weapons might have a "damage" trait_type whose value corresponds to the attack power of the weapon. Some art NFTs may benefit from a "rarity" trait to indicate how relatively unique a given NFT is compared to its collection-mates.

Finally, the properties field is a home for any custom metadata you want to include, but it also contains two important sub-fields, properties.creators and properties.files.

The properties.creators field lists the Solana wallet addresses of each of the NFT creators. Each entry in the properties.creators array has a share that indicates how much of the sale price will go to each creator. The total of all share entries must sum to 100, so if there's a single creator, its share should always be 100.

The properties.files array contains metadata about any files associated with the NFT. Most importantly, each entry in the array contains a type field with the MIME content type of the file.

All NFTs that include an image will have at least one entry in properties.files with a uri that is equal to the value of the image field. As with the image field, this example shows a local file path, but this will be replaced with the URL for the uploaded image once it has been stored with NFT.Storage.

Please note that this example does not show all possible metadata fields. Consult the metadata standard for the complete specification.

Using Candy Machine CLI

The Candy Machine CLI is a command-line tool written in TypeScript that takes images and their associated metadata and turns them into a collection of NFTs that can be minted from an on-chain Solana Candy Machine program.


There are a few things you'll need to set up before you can run the Candy Machine CLI, including git, Node.js, and the Solana command-line tools.

It's best to head over to the official Candy Machine Getting Started guide, which is kept up to date with the current required versions of everything you'll need.

The remainder of this guide will assume that you've installed the recommended tools and have cloned the metaplex git repository to your home folder at ~/metaplex.

You should also have a wallet for the Solana devnet with a few devnet SOL to play with, and this guide will assume that the key file lives at ~/.config/solana/devnet.json as in the Getting Started guide. If your key lives elsewhere, make sure to update the example commands with the correct location.

If everything is installed correctly, you should be able to run the following command to get some help text from the CLI tool:

ts-node ~/metaplex/js/packages/cli/src/candy-machine-v2-cli.ts --help

It can be a bit awkward to type all that each time you want to run a command, so if you like, you can make an alias with your shell. The details will depend on which shell you use - for Bash and compatible shells, you can use this command to create an alias named candy-machine:

alias candy-machine="ts-node ~/metaplex/js/packages/cli/src/candy-machine-v2-cli.ts"

Now you should be able to run candy-machine --help to see the same help output as before. To make this alias permanent, you'll need to add it to one of the configuration files for your shell, for example, .profile or .bashrc.


Throughout the rest of the guide, we'll use the candy-machine alias to keep the examples focused on the rest of the command line arguments. If you decide not to set up an alias, remember to replace candy-machine with the full ts-node ~/metaplex/js/packages/cli/src/candy-machine-v2-cli.ts command when running the example commands.

Candy Machine configuration

Each Candy Machine project that you create is defined by two things.

First, a JSON configuration file defines settings that apply to the entire project. This includes the price to mint an NFT from the machine (in SOL or another fungible SPL token), the Solana account that should recieve the payment, and settings related to how and when NFTs should be made available for sale.

Here's a minimal configuration file that uses NFT.Storage for uploads:

"price": 1.0,
"number": 10,
"gatekeeper": null,
"solTreasuryAccount": "<YOUR WALLET ADDRESS>",
"splTokenAccount": null,
"splToken": null,
"goLiveDate": "25 Dec 2022 00:00:00 GMT",
"endSettings": null,
"whitelistMintSettings": null,
"hiddenSettings": null,
"storage": "nft-storage",
"nftStorageKey": null,
"ipfsInfuraProjectId": null,
"ipfsInfuraSecret": null,
"awsS3Bucket": null,
"noRetainAuthority": false,
"noMutable": false

You'll need to replace <YOUR WALLET ADDRESS> with the address of your solana wallet.

If you want to use your personal NFT.Storage account to track and manage uploads associated with your account, you can also optionally set the nftStorageKey field to an NFT.Storage API key, which will cause the uploads to appear in your NFT.Storage account's file listing. You can create an API key in your Account page when you're logged in to NFT.Storage.

If you do not provide an NFT.Storage API key, your Solana wallet key will be used to create a signature to authorize the upload, using the metaplex-auth library.

See the configuration documentation for details about the other arguments.

The second thing you need is a directory full of NFT assets and metadata. This directory contains a collection of images named in a numeric sequence starting at zero, e.g., 0.png, 1.png, etc.

For each image file, there needs to be a corresponding .json file with the same number (0.json, etc) that includes metadata for the corresponding image. This metadata should be in the format described in the Preparing your metadata section above.

It's important that the number field in your configuration JSON matches the number of NFTs in your assets directory. For example, if number is set to 10, you should have ten image and metadata pairs, numbered 0 - 9.

In the end, your project directory should look something like this:

├── assets
│   ├── 0.json
│   ├── 0.png
│   ├── 1.json
│   ├── 1.png
│   ├── 2.json
│   ├── 2.png
│   ├── 3.json
│   ├── 3.png
│   ├── 4.json
│   └── 4.png
└── config.json

See the official Metaplex docs on asset preparation for more.

Uploading NFTs with Candy Machine

Once you've prepared your metadata and set up the configuration file and asset directory, you can upload your NFT data and create the new token.

First, check the balance of your Solana wallet with solana balance to make sure you have some SOL available. If not, see the Metaplex getting started guide to learn how to get some devnet SOL.

Now navigate to your project directory, which should include a config.json file and an assets directory with your images and metadata.

You can now run the candy machine upload command, passing in your devnet Solana key file and the path to your configuration and assets:

candy-machine upload -e devnet -c example -k ~/.config/solana/devnet.json -cp config.json ./assets

The -c example flag sets the name for the local upload cache to "example". You can choose whatever name you like, but remember your choice for future commands.

You should see output similar to this:

wallet public key: 3eoKfwCQ4jMBD5CEpLM8aCTZVN7wGQ9KTUBHhksmaZNh
Beginning the upload for 5 (img+json) pairs
started at: 1645646275683
initializing candy machine
initialized config for a candy machine with publickey: ANhEU5d5T5fE41UthWDKa6VEcST9v9Hx1ymEaAumsv1t
Uploading Size 5 { mediaExt: '.png', index: '0' }
Processing asset: 0
Media Upload /home/yusef/work/projects/metaplex/cmv2/example-nft/assets/0.png
Upload metadata
Upload end
Processing asset: 1
Media Upload /home/yusef/work/projects/metaplex/cmv2/example-nft/assets/1.png
Upload metadata
Upload end
Processing asset: 2
Media Upload /home/yusef/work/projects/metaplex/cmv2/example-nft/assets/2.png
Upload metadata
Upload end
Processing asset: 3
Media Upload /home/yusef/work/projects/metaplex/cmv2/example-nft/assets/3.png
Upload metadata
Upload end
Processing asset: 4
Media Upload /home/yusef/work/projects/metaplex/cmv2/example-nft/assets/4.png
Upload metadata
Upload end
Writing indices 0-4
Done. Successful = true.
ended at: 2022-02-23T19:58:42.635Z. time taken: 00:00:46

If you get an error that candy-machine cannot be found, see the Pre-requisites section to set up an alias, or use the full ts-node command described in that section.

After uploading: next steps

Once you've run the upload command, your Candy Machine is ready to interact with.

Before minting tokens, it's best to verify the upload to make sure everything can be retrieved correctly.

You can use the verify_upload Candy Machine CLI command, passing in the name of the local cache file. In the upload example we used the -c example flag to set the cache file name, so we'll use the same flag here:

candy-machine verify_upload -e devnet -c example -k ~/.config/solana/devnet.json

If you see any errors, try running the upload command again.

Once you've verified the upload, you can mint tokens from the Candy Machine. As the owner (or "authority") of the Candy Machine, you can mint tokens before the goLiveDate set in the configuration file.

Use the mint_one_token command to mint a single token:

candy-machine mint_one_token -e devnet -c example -k ~/.config/solana/devnet.json

You should see something similar to:

wallet public key: N4f6zftYsuu4yT7icsjLwh4i6pB1zvvKbseHj2NmSQw
mint_one_token finished 3R9XADK91RWESj3FZdzB2QXHchpjwcS5khdwZVoSd3petHyqt2T6MjntMxozX2meRFyaFZEsqjPxbCUjxz5eL5z9

If you now check your wallet, for example in the Solana Explorer, you should see the new token.

See the Metaplex docs for more examples, as well as a guide to setting up a minting website so that anyone can easily mint tokens for themselves.

Other options

If you're eager to use NFT.Storage for your Solana NFTs but are not creating a Candy Machine, there are a few options.

Magic Eden is a Solana NFT marketplace and community that offers a full-service NFT minting program called Launchpad that can take care of all the technical issues involved in minting Solana NFTs. Since Lanchpad is integrated with NFT.Storage, you can take advantage of the benefits of decentralized storage without needing to write any code or learn about blockchain development.

On the other hand, if you're a Solana developer who wants even more technical details, you can use the metaplex-auth library directly in your NFT projects instead of through the Candy Machine CLI.

Using metaplex-auth, you can build applications that allow users to upload NFT data directly from the browser using their Solana wallet, so that they never need to create an NFT.Storage account to take advantage of its benefits.