OIT Network Systems

How to Determine Your Device's Ethernet or Wireless Hardware Address

This document describes how to determine your device's Ethernet or Wireless hardware address(es). You need to know your hardware address(es) in order to register your device in the Princeton University Host Database.

If you need assistance following these instructions, or need assistance determining the Ethernet or Wireless hardware address of a platform not covered by this document, please contact the OIT Support and Operations Center (phone 609-258-HELP, helpdesk@princeton.edu).

Contents

  1. What is an Ethernet or Wireless Hardware Address?
  2. The Easiest Way to Discover a Hardware Address
  3. Forging (Spoofing, Cloning) Another Hardware Address is not Acceptable
Instructions for Some Common Platforms

What is an Ethernet or Wireless Hardware Address?

An Ethernet or Wireless hardware address is a number assigned to the hardware interface in (or attached to) your computer or printer. It is assigned by the manufacturer of that Ethernet or Wireless interface, not by Princeton University. All manufacturers of Ethernet and Wireless interfaces cooperate to ensure that every hardware interface has a unique address.

If your computer has both an Ethernet interface and a Wireless interface, each will have its own unique hardware address.

An Ethernet or Wireless hardware address is a 6-byte hexadecimal number; for example: 080007A9B2FC. Each byte is written as two hexadecimal digits, so there are twelve hexadecimal digits; each hex digit is a number from 0-9 or a letter from A-F. The letters A-F may be uppercase or lowercase.

Sometimes an '0x' is written before the value to make explicit that the following value should interpreted as hexadecimal. This '0x' is not part of the value.

Ethernet and Wireless hardware addresses are often written in other forms, to make them easier to understand. It is common separate the six pairs of hexadecimal digits (the A-F are considered hexadecimal digits, rather than letters) with colons or dashes, like: 08:00:07:A9:B2:FC or 00-00-94-ba-0e-cc. When using colons or dashes to separate the address into six pairs, sometimes any leading zero in each pair of digits is dropped; e.g. 8:0:7:A9:B2:FC or 0:0:94:ba:e:cc. (When dropping leadings zeroes in a hardware address, '00' becomes '0' -- you never completely eliminate any of the six pairs of digits.)

Do not confuse an Ethernet or Wireless hardware address with an Internet Protocol v4 ("IPv4") address; that's a number assigned to some computers and printers by the Princeton University, and looks something like: 128.112.1.2 or 140.180.1.2. Your Ethernet or Wireless hardware address is also not your email address, which typically looks something like rfraggle@princeton.edu.


The Easiest Way to Discover a Hardware Address

Often, the fastest way to discover a device's Ethernet or Wireless hardware address is to look for a printed label. For example, if you buy an Ethernet or Wireless interface card, check the box it came in for a label; you may recognize the hardware address on the label. Other times, the actual interface may have a sticky label somewhere on it with the hardware address.

If your computer or printer has a built-in Ethernet or Wireless interface, you may find a label attached to the back or bottom of the computer displaying the hardware address.

If you find a label, make sure it really is a hardware address; the section above describes what an Ethernet or Wireless hardware address looks like. For example, if you see letters of the alphabet other than A-F, you can be sure you're not looking at an Ethernet or Wireless hardware address; perhaps it is a model number or serial number for your computer.

In some cases, you will not find a hardware address displayed on the box, the Ethernet or Wireless interface, or the computer or printer. (Or you may have discarded the box, and opening the computer or printer to examine the interface card inside may not be a good choice.) In these cases, there is usually software you can run on the computer or printer that will display the Ethernet or Wireless hardware address. Instructions for some popular configurations appear below.


Forging (Spoofing, Cloning) Another Hardware Address is not Acceptable

Many devices can be reconfigured so that instead of using the hardware address assigned by the manufacturer, they instead forge another hardware address of your own choosing. This is sometimes called "spoofing" or "cloning" a hardware address, particularly when the forged hardware address is one that belongs to another device.

Because a device's hardware address is one of the most important ways the device is identified on the campus network, forging a hardware address is not acceptable on the campus network. No device attached to the campus network should be configured to forge its hardware address; instead, every device attached to the campus network should use the unique hardware address assigned to it by the manufacturer.


Windows 95, 98, ME

The process of obtaining your ethernet address is fairly simple in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME. You need to have, at least, installed the Microsoft TCPIP protocol to use this method. If you have installed the MS TCPIP protocol do the following:

  1. Click on Start.

  2. Click on Run.

  3. In the command line box which appears, enter the following and press the Enter key:
            winipcfg
    

  4. A box will appear with a variety of information. Check the pull-down menu near the top to verify that your Ethernet interface is selected; if it is not, then select it in this menu.

  5. Look for the line labelled Adapter Address. This is your Ethernet interface's hardware address. It will be written out completely as 6 pairs of 2 digits separted by hyphens. Write it down.

  6. If your machine has a wireless card, select Wireless interface from the drop down menu. Look for the Adapter Address under this section and write it down.

  7. Click on the X in the top right-hand corner of the box to close the windows. You are now finished.

Troubleshooting

If you are unable to see your Ethernet interface in the window displayed by the winipcfg command, refer to the OIT KnowledgeBase solution: http://helpdesk.princeton.edu/kb/display.plx?ID=5094.


Windows NT 4.0

You can find your ethernet address using Microsoft's ipconfig utility:

  1. Click the Start button.

  2. Select Programs and then select Command Prompt.

  3. At the C:\> prompt, enter the following then press the Enter key:
            ipconfig /all
    

  4. Your machine's ethernet address is listed as the Physical Address.

  5. If your machine has both an Ethernet and a Wireless connection, two Physical Adresses will be shown in different sections. The Ethernet hardware address is listed under Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection and the Wireless hardware address will be listed under Ethernet Adapter Wireless Network Connection.

  6. To close the Command Prompt window, enter the following at the C:\> prompt then press the Enter key:
            exit
    


Windows 2000, XP

You can find your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware addresses using Microsoft's ipconfig utility:

  1. Click the Start button.

  2. Select Programs and then select Accessories/Command Prompt.

  3. At the C:\> prompt, enter the following then press the Enter key:
            ipconfig /all
    

  4. Your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware address is listed as the Physical Address.

  5. If your machine has both an Ethernet and a Wireless connection, two Physical Adresses will be shown in different sections. The Ethernet hardware address is listed under Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection and the Wireless hardware address will be listed under Ethernet Adapter Wireless Network Connection.

  6. To close the Command Prompt window, enter the following at the C:\> prompt then press the Enter key:
            exit
    


Windows Vista, Windows 7

You can find your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware addresses using Microsoft's getmac utility:

  1. If your device is a Dell laptop, ensure it is plugged into an electrical outlet; if it is not plugged in, the device's Ethernet address will not be displayed.

  2. Click the Start button.

  3. In the Search box, enter the following then press the Enter key:
            cmd
    

  4. At the DOS prompt, enter the following then press the Enter key:
            getmac /v
    

  5. Your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware addresses are listed as the Physical Addresses.

  6. If your machine has both an Ethernet and a Wireless connection, two Physical Adresses will be shown in different sections. The Ethernet hardware address is listed under Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection and the Wireless hardware address will be listed under Ethernet Adapter Wireless Network Connection.

  7. To close the Command Prompt window, enter the following at the C:\> prompt then press the Enter key:
            exit
    

Windows 8

You can find your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware address using Microsoft's getmac utility.

  1. Navigate to the Charm Bar through one of the following methods:

  2. Start a search by selecting the Magnifying Glass icon at the top.

  3. Search for "Command Prompt" then press the Enter key.

  4. At the DOS prompt, enter the following then press the Enter key

          getmac/v
    

  5. Your machine's Ethernet or Wireless hardware addresses are listed as the Physical Addresses.

  6. If your machine has both an Ethernet and a Wireless connection, two Physical Adresses will be shown in different sections. The Ethernet hardware address is listed under Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection and the Wireless hardware address will be listed under Ethernet Adapter Wireless Network Connection.

  7. To close the Command Prompt window, enter the following at the C:\> prompt then press the Enter key:
            exit
    

Apple Mac OS X 10.4 - 10.7; Apple OS X 10.8 - 10.9

To display your Apple OS X device's Ethernet or Wireless hardware addresses:

  1. Make sure that the network interface you're interested in is part of the current location, and is turned "on":

    1. Open the System Preferences application in the Apple menu.

      The System Preferences application is also sometimes available in the Dock. It's also available in the Utilities folder (in versions 10.4 - 10.5) or the Applications folder (in versions 10.6 - 10.9).

    2. Click the Network icon in the System Preferences application.

    3. The Network pane of the System Preferences application displays a Location pop-up menu near the top of its window.

      In this Location pop-up menu, select a location that includes the network interface of interest.

      For version 10.4: You can verify that a network interface (port) is a member of a location by selecting that location, then in the Show pop-up menu, selecting Network Port Configurations. Verify that network interface of interest appears in the port list, and is turned "on" (its checkbox is checked).

      For versions 10.5 - 10.9: You can verify that a network interface (port) is a member of a location by selecting that location, then verifying that the network interface of interest appears in the network ports list on the left side of the window. Verify that the interface's status (which appears in grey just below the name of the interface) is anything other than "Inactive."

    4. If you made any changes in this window, click the Apply button in the lower right corner of the window.

    5. If you made any changes in the Network pane in System Preferences that you won't want to retain, make a note of them now, so you can undo them later.

    6. Once you've verified that the network interface you're interested in is part of the current location and is turned "on" (in 10.4), or is anything except "inactive (in 10.5 - 10.8), you can select Quit System Preferences from the File menu.

  2. In versions 10.4 - 10.6, launch the System Profiler application. In versions 10.7 - 10.9, launch the System Information application.

    This program is normally located in the Utilities folder, which in turn is located in the Applications folder.

  3. In the Contents pane on the left, select Network.

  4. Displayed in the upper-right pane is a list of each of the Mac's network interfaces that are part of the current network location and are turned "on" (in version 10.4), or anything except "inactive" (in versions 10.5 - 10.9). (In version 10.6 - 10.9, these are entitled "Active Services".)

    In this upper-right pane, select the item for the Ethernet or AirPort (a.k.a. "Wireless") interface in which you are interested.

  5. Displayed in the lower-right pane is information about the selected network interface.

    Each interface's hardware address is the value labelled Ethernet address, MAC address, or Hardware (MAC) address This is true even if the device is actually a wireless interface. (It is not the item labelled RouterHardwareAddress or the item labelled ARPResolvedHardwareAddress. Make a note of the value; this is the information you were seeking.

  6. Quit the System Profiler (in versions 10.4 - 10.6) application or the System Information (in versions 10.7 - 10.9) application.

  7. If earlier you changed any settings in the Network pane of System Preferences (for example, to make a particular network interface active) and you wish to change it back, do so now.


Apple iPhone OS 3.1 - 3.2; iOS 4.0 - 8.0

To display your Apple iOS (or iPhone OS) device's Wireless hardware address:

  1. Open the Settings application.

  2. From the list of setting categories, select General.

  3. From the list of general settings, select About.

  4. The Wireless hardware address is the value labelled Wi-Fi Address.

  5. Leave the Settings application.


Android 2.2 - 4.4.2

To display your Android device's Wireless hardware address:

  1. Open the Settings application.

  2. From the list of setting categories, select About phone.

    Some vendors locate this category underneath some other category; this can vary from device to device.

    This item also might be named something else, for example, About tablet.

  3. From the list of choices, select Hardware information. On some versions of Android, you may instead need to choose Status.

  4. The Wireless hardware address is the value labeled Wi-Fi MAC Address.

  5. Leave the Settings application.


Sun Solaris

When executed as root, the following command will show the hardware address for each Ethernet interface that is plumbed on the system:

   # /usr/sbin/ifconfig -a

   lo0: flags=1000849 mtu 8232 index 1
           inet 127.0.0.1 netmask ff000000 
   hme0: flags=1000843 mtu 1500 index 2
           inet 192.168.1.2 netmask fffffc00 broadcast 192.168.1.0
           ether 8:0:20:4:5:6


A service of OIT Network Systems
The Office of Information Technology,
Princeton University
Last Updated: September 19 2014