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MAC Addressing

Find a MAC Address

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Man working on his office computer
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The method used to find a MAC address depends on the type of network device involved. All popular network operating systems contain utility programs that allow you to find (and sometimes change) MAC address settings.

Find a MAC Address in Windows

Use the ipconfig utility (with the /all option) to display the computer's MAC address in modern versions of Windows. Very old versions like Windows 95 and Windows 98 used the winipcfg utility instead.

Both 'winipcfg' and 'ipconfig' may display multiple MAC addresses for one computer. One MAC address exists for each installed network card. Additionally, Windows maintains one or more MAC addresses that are not associated with hardware cards.

For example, Windows dial-up networking uses virtual MAC addresses to manage the phone connection as if it were a network card. Some Windows VPN clients likewise have their own MAC address. The MAC addresses of these virtual network adapters are the same length and format as true hardware addresses.

Find a MAC Address in Unix or Linux

The specific command used in Unix to find a MAC address varies depending on the version of the operating system. In Linux and in some forms of Unix, the command ifconfig -a returns MAC addresses.

You can also find MAC addresses in Unix and Linux in the boot message sequence. These operating systems display the computer's MAC address on-screen as the system reboots. Additionally, boot-up messages are retained in a log file (usually "/var/log/messages" or "/var/adm/messages").

Find a MAC Address on the Mac

You can find MAC addresses on Apple Mac computers in the TCP/IP Control Panel. If the system is running Open Transport, the MAC address appears under the "Info" or "User Mode/Advanced" screens. If the system is running MacTCP, the MAC address appears under the "Ethernet" icon.

Summary - How to Find a MAC Address

The list below summarizes options to find a computer's MAC address:
  • Windows: ipconfig /all, or winipcfg
  • Linux and some Unix: ifconfig -a
  • Mac with Open Transport: TCP/IP Control Panel - Info or User Mode/Advanced
  • Mac with MacTCP: TCP/IP Control Panel - Ethernet icon
Next page > How to Change MAC Addresses > Page 1, 2, 3

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