What Is A Mac Address And How to Find It

In this post, we are going to explain to you what is a MAC Address and we will also show you some tools you can use to see it on your device. Just to clarify in modern devices the term MAC Address can be referred to as the Physical Address. In this post, I will call it MAC Address but the output you get from the example may show you the Physical Address as the name.

What Is A Mac Address And How to Find It
What Is A Mac Address And How to Find It

What Is A Mac Address:

Users of computing devices including routers, computers, tablets, smartphones, and various networking gadgets usually come across the term MAC address. Below we demystify what MAC address is, and how to get the address.

MAC Address which is short for Media Access Control is a distinctive number given to individual computers logged into a network. The address is usually assigned to a network card. The MAC address is recorded into the network card immediately the latter gets created.

The address is permanent and acts as the platform where information between computers connected to the local network is exchanged. The media access control serial number is made up of six groups of two characters segregated by colons.

Although the IP (internet protocol) address and MAC address are two different sets of addresses, they work simultaneously. They, however, have various tasks and meanings.

The MAC address carries the info of the nearest device in which the packet has to be transmitted. It means that the MAC address has a tactical value.

The IP address indicates where the packet information should be transferred on a global scale. This makes the IP address’s aim strategic.

It’s wise to note that there are different variations of MAC Addresses. Media Access Control supports a lot of addresses operating as network interfaces. Case in point; a control point can support two separate addresses for Wifi and Ethernet.

Why Do We Have MAC Addresses?

The primary MAC address use is for filtering access. The ISP (internet service provider) uses the MAC address to regulate/control internet access.

Case in point; when a user connects their device to the internet and adds a second device to the same router but is denied internet access.

The denied access results from the IP address and registered MAC address of the network card assigned to you by the ISP. Hence why only a registered MAC address can gain access to the internet. Other than primary network usage, MAC addresses carry out the following roles:

  • MAC address Filtering: networks use MAC address filters that only give access to devices with specific addresses permission to connect to the system.
  • Device Tracking: Since the MAC address is unique, it plays an important role; that one of tracking. When driving or walking down the street, your smart device will scan for nearby Wifi networks and transmit its assigned MAC address.
  • Static IP: the routers you connect your devices to, make it possible to assign IP addresses to your computers/phones. Every connection reveals unique IP addresses if they have corresponding MAC addresses.
  • Device Identification: A lot of Wifi networks in public Wifi hotspots, such as airports, parks, and other public places use the MAC addresses of devices connected to the network for ease of identification.

Some public hotspots allow MAC addresses to connect to the internet for free for a certain number of minutes/hours. When the set time is up, the MAC address is denied access.

Finding The Physical Address On Windows:

To see the MAC Address on the Windows operation system, you can use the built-in command-line tool ipconfig using the following steps:

  1. Open a command prompt as an administrator.
  2. Type the following command: ipconfig /all
  3. Press enter.
  4. In the output, you will see a list of information that includes your MAC Address.

You can also use our NetHelper tool (free tool for windows). It can show you the MAC Address, and other useful information about all the installed network cards.

Finding The MAC Address On MacOS:

There are numerous ways one can use to check the MAC address. You can check for it on the network card package. For laptop users, the MAC address may be seen on the sticker placed at the computer’s base.

You can also find it through the terminal. Go to your computer’s command sector and copy-paste the ifconfig command and you will be issued with the MAC address.

You can opt to use the Use System Preferences to find the MAC address. Go to the “Open System Preferences” section, scroll to the Network section, and select the Wifi connection option.

Go to the advanced section, proceed to the Hardware section, and you will see the Wifi MAC address.

Finding the Address On Linux:

On the Linux operation system, like in Mac OS, you can use the ifconfig command-line tool.

You will have to open a terminal and change to root, to get the needed privilege to run the command-line that will show you your MAC Address.

Type the following command ifconfig -a OR ifconfig | grep HWaddr and press enter.

The value you are looking for can be, MAC, MAC Address, HWaddr, ether or by another name, in general, we are looking for a hex string, something like xx:xx:xx:xx:xx

In this article, we talk about the physical address or the MAC Address of your network card. there may be more than one network card on your systems, like a wired one and a wireless one. Both will have their own MAC Address.

Please remember to look at the right MAC Address for the network interface (card) that you need.

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