What Are Private Keys?
A private key is like a password to a digital bank account and you will have as many private keys as you have addresses. Exodus makes it easy so that 90% of the time you never have to worry about your private keys. Your private keys are hidden inside Exodus and they can only be viewed using our developer menu - this way, you're the only one that has access to your private keys.
Private keys are different from your public receiving address. You can give your public address to anyone that asks for it, but you must never give your private keys to an untrusted source (not even to us). There are many scams out there that will ask you for your private key - Never give out your private key, no matter how "safe" they say it is. If you'd like to learn more ways of protecting yourself from scams, and for other safety tips, check out this article.
This is an example of what a private key looks like after you click on "View Private Key":
When you first opened your Exodus wallet, your private keys were created. It was actually your private keys that mathematically generated your public addresses, so they are connected. You can think of a private key as the proof that you own a public address. Without the private key, you cannot prove that the funds in the public address are yours.
Private keys are also different from your 12-word seed phrase. You have a private key for each of your assets (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, etc), but a 12-word phrase has control of all of your private keys - the private keys essentially live inside of the 12 words, think of them as Master Private Keys. This is why it's important to always keep your 12-word seed phrase safe and not to share it with anyone, not even support staff at Exodus.
Read more about the 12-word seed phrase here: https://support.exodus.io/article/925-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-12-word-recovery-phrase
If a person half-way around the world gains access to either your 12-word seed phrase or any of your private keys, they'll be able to steal your assets without having to input your Exodus password.
If you'd like to learn how to view your private keys, please reference this page: http://support.exodus.io/article/86-how-can-i-view-my-private-keys
To learn more about private keys, please take a look at these videos: