Have you ever pondered over questions such as “How to find MAC address and how to change it”? The method to change or find the MAC address of a device is not that technically challenging. It primarily depends upon the operating system or OS of your device. Each OS has its own set of commands defined to find and change the MAC address. Sometimes the NIC or the network interface controller won’t allow you to change the MAC address. In that case, you may have to use some third party software.
The steps to change the MAC address are very easy and require no exceptional skills. You just need to know how to run few commands on a computer and the rest is simple.
Before understanding “How to find MAC address and how to change it”, lets quickly recap what is MAC address itself.
What is MAC address
MAC stands for media access control. It is a unique 12 digit alphanumeric key and it is assigned to each network interface of every device that connects to the network, be it a computer, smartphone, router etc. MAC address is also called the physical address or hardware address.
The manufacturer of the NIC allots the MAC address and stores it in its hardware.
There can be multiple NICs on a single node(or device), and each NIC will have a unique MAC address. Even though MAC address is assigned at the time of manufacturing and is stored in the NIC’s hardware, but it is still possible to change the MAC address.
How to find the MAC address on windows
It is quite easy to find MAC address in the windows. Just follow the steps given below:
- Type cmd in the search bar and then click enter. A new black colored window will come up. This window is called the command prompt.
- Type “ipconfig /all” on the command prompt and click enter. Scroll down, and you will see physical address for each of the network interface card on your machine.
The physical address that has an IP address assigned to it is the currently used MAC addresses.
The command ipconfig doesn’t work in the old version of windows like windows 95 and 98. You may need to use winipcfg in such case.
How to find MAC address on Unix/Linux
There are many distributions of Linux and Unix. The command to find the MAC address differ according to the version. In Linux and some modes of UNIX, the command used is ifconfig.
- You have to open the terminal first. Connect to the unix box using putty or telnet.
- Type ifconfig in the terminal and click enter. Data presented by ifconfig will contain the MAC address of all the NICs of your system.
Another way to find the MAC address in UNIX and Linux is to look into the boot message sequence which also contains the MAC address. Boot messages is usually stored in /var/log/messages or /var/adm/messages.
How to find MAC address on Mac
The MAC address of the Mac OS can be found using the terminal. Follow the following steps to find the MAC address.
- Open the terminal.
- Type ifconfig in the terminal and click enter.
Like any other OS, there will be many MAC addresses available one for each network adapter. To find which one you are using currently, you have to find the one that has an IP address linked to it.
There is also another way to find the MAC address on Apple computers. You have to go the TCP/IP control panel. The MAC address will be under the info or user mode/advanced screens or the ethernet icon depending on the version of MAC OS.
How to change MAC address on windows
While it is so convenient to use command prompt for finding the MAC address of your device, but for changing it, you can use a GUI directly. Follow the following steps.
- Type run in the search bar and click enter. In a few seconds, you will see a run box on your computer screen.
- Type devmgmt.msc in the run box, the device manager will open.
- Go to the network adapter and expand it.
- Find your wireless network card and right-click on it then click properties, a new tab will open.
- Click on advanced and select network address in that tab and then click the value button.
- Now you can enter the new MAC address.
You have to keep certain things in mind while writing the new MAC address and the most important one is that you have to write the new MAC address without using any special character or colon in between. In some cases, it may be possible that the value tab is unchangeable which means you will not be able to change the MAC address.
How to change MAC address on UNIX/LINUX
For changing the MAC address in UNIX or Linux, you have to open the terminal and type in the following command.
sudo ifconfig eth0 down
sudo ifconfig eth0 hw ether <new MAC address in the format ”a1:b1:c1:d1:e1:f1”>
sudo ifconfig eth0 up
You have to write the name of the adapter whose MAC address you want to change in place of eth0 and replace a1:b1… with new MAC address.
How to change MAC address on Mac
For changing the MAC address in the Mac operating system, you have to open the terminal and type below mentioned command.
sudo ifconfig en1 ether a1:b1:c1:d1:e1:f1
You have to replace the a1:b1 part of the command with the new MAC address and it will ask for your login password once you will click enter.
Why change the MAC address?
So far, we discussed about how to find and change the mac address. But do you know why you will ever need to change the MAC address? There are some legitimate reasons but some not so.
Privacy — It is possible that other devices on the network can see your MAC address. Especially a hacker can track your device and so you using your MAC address. This is especially a threat if you are using public wifi hotspot. And one hacker knows your MAC address, he can impersonate you and then can accress some of restricted devices as “you”.
MAC filtering — MAC filtering means that you will allow specific devices to connect to a particular network. The rest of the devices will be blocked from connecting to same network. What airlines and hotel do is they prevent the users from using the WIFI using MAC address filtering. If you change your MAC address, they won’t be able to block you.
Physical loss of network card – ISP generally uses MAC address to authenticate you and let you use the internet connection. Incase your NIC goes bad and needs replacement, it will also cause MAC address to change. In such cases, it would be just easier to restore your MAC address rather working with your ISP to register your new MAC address.
Over to you on “How to find MAC address and How to Change it”
Every device that can connect with the internet has a MAC address whether it is a phone or a computer or even a smart TV. MAC address is a 12 digit hexadecimal number, and it is of 48 bits. Viewing and changing of MAC address is generally a straightforward task but sometimes you may need a third party software to do it.