A Two-Minute Guide To Your MAC Address

MAC stands for Media Access Control. It is a unique identifier for network interfaces. It is used as a network address for most IEEE 802 network technologies. Sometimes it is known as the burned-in address (BIA) or the Ethernet hardware address (EHA). Among its applications are the Ethernet, 802.11 wireless networks and Bluetooth.

what is mac address

What Is A MAC Address?

The MAC address is usually assigned by the manufacturer of a Network Interface Controller (NIC), and it is stored in the hardware. The NIC is a computer circuit card that allows a computer to connect to a network. During network communication the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) for the Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) or the Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP) for IPv6 translates the IP into a NIC.

The MAC address is formed in accordance to the rules of the three numbering name spaces, which are managed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). The format is six sets of two digits or characters, separated by hyphens. An example of a MAC address is 30-65-EC-6F-C4-58.

Some manufacturers, such as Dell, place a unique identifier in the MAC address, which is called the Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI), and identifies the manufacturer. The OUIs of some well-known firms are:

  • Dell: 00-14-22,
  • Cisco: 00-40-96,
  • Nortel: 00-04-DC.

Some firms may have more than one MAC address.

What Is A MAC Address Used For?

One of the applications of MAC addresses is in the filtering process on wireless networks. In order to prevent strangers from accessing a network, the router is set to accept only specific MAC addresses. In this manner, if the IP address changes, as for example in the case of dynamic IP addresses, the MAC address can still identify the device.

Filtering can be used to track network users, and to limit their access. It can also have other uses, such as identifying when a stolen device connects to the network. For these reasons, many companies and institutions require the MAC addresses of their members’ devices. Therefore, it is important for device owners not to reveal their MAC addresses to anyone, except to authorized personnel.

MAC addresses can also be used in data recovery to connect to a wireless device. Disk Drill is an app, developed by Cleverfiles, which helps in data recovery. It searches for lost files by scanning in two possible modes, namely Quick and Deep Scan. Quick Scan uses the metadata still available in the file system. Deep Scan drills deeper into the binary level. The results are presented with the help of a filter.

Disk Drill is available for Windows and Mac computers, and can be download for free.

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MAC addresses are also necessary for a MAC address lookup, which means finding the geographical location of the device via the MAC address.

For the purpose of connecting to a device, and recovering its data, or setting up a filtering process, or looking up the location. It is necessary to find the MAC address of the device.

How To Find MAC Address?

If a person needs to know how to find MAC address on Windows 7, or a MAC address Windows 8, all that is necessary, is to open a cmd Window, and once the Command Prompt is opened, type in ipconfig /all and press enter. A set of labels and values will appear. The MAC address is listed under the description of Physical Address.

In a Mac computer, the process to find MAC address is as follows: go to utilities, (Finder à Utilities or Command + Shift + u) and start the Terminal app. Type networksetup –listallhardwareports. The computer will display all network interfaces and their MAC addresses (Ethernet Addresses).

In an iPhone, to find MAC address select in the home menu: Settings à General à About. The iPhone MAC address will appear under the setting WiFi Address.

How To Change The MAC Address?

In general MAC addresses cannot be modified, as they are defined by the manufacturer. However, it is possible to change IP address MAC, and use other techniques for MAC addresses.

For example, in the USA, apparently the National Security Agency has a system that can track the movement of people by using MAC addresses. This fact prompted Apple Inc. to start using random MAC addresses in their iOS, while scanning for networks.

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance content creator. He also has a more than 10-year experience in program development for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android. Arthur Cole is a writer with deep expertise in programming, who can easily...

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.