Find IP Address using MAC Address

It is common for network administrators and computer users to PING a device to find the IP address of a website, a host, or even a hostname. But, what if the only information you had was a MAC address and you needed to find out to whom it belonged? Perhaps you want to dig for more information based on a MAC address that has been listed in your router or you need to know who has been accessing your local network.

Well, finding an IP address from a MAC address is the topic we will be looking at in this article.

IP address vs. MAC address

Let’s delve right in, have a look at these two terms, and discuss what they are and why we need them at all.

Define IP address

An Internet Protocol or IP address is a numerical label or address assigned to each device that is connected to a computer network that uses IP (Internet Protocol) for communication.

An IP address serves two primary purposes: for host or network interface identification and location addressing of a connected device. This address can be assigned manually by configuring a device to save a Static IP Address, or automatically by a DHCP server (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server) which assigns a Dynamic IP Address.

An IP address can be in the format of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (IP V4) or abcd:efgh:ijkl:mnop:qrst:uvwx:yzab:cdef (IP V6). It is also always unique – no two devices on the same subnet can have the same IP address. If they do, it will cause an IP address conflict.

IPV6-vs-IPV4

Define MAC address

A Media Access Control or MAC address is also a uniquely assigned address. Like an IP address, a MAC address also serves as an identifier for each device. But, in this case, the address is assigned to the hardware that is used to make the connection possible. In the case of a desktop or laptop computer, this hardware is the Network Interface Card (NIC).

MAC addresses are written in the “AA:BB:CC:DD:DD:FF” format. The first three numbers (i.e. AA:BB:CC) are used to identify a NIC’s manufacturer and are known as an Organizational Unique Identifier (OUI). The OUI is followed by a unique identifier since here too there can be no two devices with the same MAC address.

OUI and Unique Identifier of a MAC address

From the image above, we can see that a MAC address is a hexadecimal number. The NIC converts this hexadecimal number of the MAC address into binary numbers before processing and using it on the network.

Therefore, we can now say that a MAC address is a unique hardware identification number that is assigned to a NIC, whereas an IP address is an address that helps you identify a network connection that leads to the NIC, and thence, the host machine.

Finally, we need to remember that connected devices can each have two IP addresses:

A Private or Internal IP address: this is to be used on a Local Area Network (LAN) and for connectivity and messaging within an internal network. The ranges are best explained in the table below:

PrefixIP From…IP To…Total No. of Addresses
10.0.0.0/810.0.0.010.255.255.25516,777,216
172.16.0.0/12172.16.0.0172.31.255.2551,048,576
192.168.0.0/16192.168.0.0192.168.255.25565,536

These addresses (and hence the devices) are not globally reachable, and cannot be searched or accessed from beyond the LAN. Also, they are not necessarily unique identifiers – a private IP can be used in two different network subnets.

A Public or External IP address: this address is used to connect to the Internet – for a global online presence.

The IP range for these addresses is from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255 – the whole range (with the exception of private IP addresses and a few unusable or reserved IPs, of course).

Devices and hosts with public or external IPs are globally accessible and can be reached from beyond the network they are on. The addresses are unique across the Internet and can even be used to determine the location of a device because each country is assigned a range of addresses by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and its regional subsidiary agencies that include AFRINIC (Africa), ARIN (USA, Canada, and some Caribbean nations), APNIC (Far East and Australia), LACNIC (Mexico, Central America, and South America), and RIPE NCC (Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia). This makes it easy to find out where a user is connecting from.

Regional Internet Registries world_map

Ok; but why do we need both an IP and a MAC address?

This is a valid question considering the fact that each address uniquely identifies a host or device. But, take into consideration the fact that although TCP/IP – which uses the IP protocol – remains the most popular communication (in fact, it can be said to be the most dominant one since the Internet uses it), it is not the ONLY transport protocol.

For example, IPX/SPX (Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange) addresses each computer using the MAC address (and some additional information). This makes it necessary for an alternative device addressing system.

How to find your own IP and MAC addresses

We will now look at how you can find the IP and MAC addresses of your machine or another one that is connected to the network.

Windows systems

  1. Go to START ->
  2. Type “CMD” or “Command” to get to the Command Prompt application.
  3. When the Command Prompt shortcut appears, right-click on it and select “Run as administrator”.

Taskbar CMD run as administrator

4. In the command prompt CLI, type “IPConfig/all” and you should see something similar to:

IPConfig slash ALL WINDOWS

In this screenshot, the Physical Address is the MAC address  70-71-BC-69-03-EB.

Incidentally, the IP addresses (in two IP protocol formats) are: 10.0.110.219 (IPv4) and fe80::a034:180d:4963:369a%10 (IPv6).

Linux systems

There are several ways of displaying your IP address from your Linux CLI. The three best ways are using the commands:

  1. ip address
  2. ifconfig –a
  3. hostname –i

Linux ip address and ifconfig emulator

As can be seen in the image above, the three commands display different outputs. The first command – ip address – is the most informative one. What’s more, it can also be used to get further, detailed information by throwing in some arguments. Just have a look at the help to get an idea of the parameters you can use:

Linux ip address help

Adding these arguments to the ip command results in details and grants access control (as well as configuration capabilities) of routes, neighboring devices, and even the network, for example.

Note: the screenshot was taken from an emulator (hence the IP address 127.0.0.1 – the default address for IPv4 loopback traffic) and your output will likely vary from the screenshot.

macOS systems

On a macOS device:

  1. Open System Preferences – by clicking the Apple logo dropdown menu.
  2. Go to Internet & Wireless.
  3. Click on
  4. Choose the connection device – Wi-Fi or Ethernet – that is green (indicating a live connection).
  5. When selected, it should say Connected and show you the IP address on the right side.

macOS IP address

Image source: OSXDaily.

A little lower, and to the right, you will be able to see the Options button. Click on it and you will be able to see more information, including the device’s MAC address.

macOS MAC address

If you’re more of a technical user, you can opt to run Terminal to find out your (local) IP address using the command “ipconfig getifaddr en0”.

macOS terminal ip address

Image source: Tridev Computer.

Finally, we shouldn’t forget that the Linux commands also work on macOS:

macOS IP address commands

Note: here too, we have used an emulator and the results may look different on your screen.

How to find MAC addresses on a network

Next, let us see how we can find the MAC addresses of the devices on a segment of a network. The protocol we will be using is the Address Resolution Protocol or ARP.

This protocol helps routers by translating IP addresses into MAC addresses (or vice versa) to make it easy for data packets to be delivered to the right host. The result is displayed in a table that allows you to easily identify which IP address belongs to what MAC address.

From your command line – in any operating system – you can use the “arp –a” command to list the MAC addresses in your network segment. Here’s what it will look like on a Windows machine:

Windows CLI arp

To see what the arp command does you can run the command “arp /?” to invoke the help feature.

ARP CLI screenshot

Moving on to a Linux emulator, it would look like this:

Linux CLI arp

And, finally, on a macOS CLI the result would look like this:

macOS CLI arp

Remember, although we have just seen that we can find the MAC addresses using the arp command, as network users, we can only see the addresses of the devices that are on the same subnet we are on. Administrators, on the other hand, can have the detailed information of the whole network at their disposal.

Windows’Active Directory (AD), for example, gives you the whole network’s MAC address information as Unique IDs in its DHCP list. This list also provides the corresponding IP addresses.

Active Directory AD DHCP list Unique ID MAC address

Image source: The Backroom Tech

Other Methods used to find the IP address using Mac Address

Ok; we have spent time looking into how you can find the IP address and MAC addresses using commands and, in some instances, features in administrative tools like Microsoft’s AD. The disadvantages here are that:

  • Manually typing in the CLI commands is too tedious a task to perform in larger networks where conflicts and issues occur too often.
  • This is also why round-the-clock monitoring for rogue devices would be out of the question – (unless of course some technical know-how was acquired to run scripts that automated the scanning tasks).
  • Using enterprise tools like Microsoft’s AD could be out of the reach of businesses and network owners with smaller budgets; and besides, it wouldn’t make sense for them to invest in them at all as the ROI wouldn’t be worth it.

The best IP address to MAC address (or vice versa) resolution tools would, therefore, be free network monitoring tools that can perform these tasks without the need for human intervention.

Let’s have a look at four such tools.

1. Spiceworks IP Scanner

For companies that have a mixed operating system topology, it makes sense to use Spiceworks’ IP Scanner because it can scan for devices running Windows, Linux, or OSX. It is also efficient because, as a cloud tool that uses a tiny agent to do the scanning, it doesn’t affect your network’s performance or interfere with the devices’ execution as they are being queried.

Spiceworks IP Scanner dashboard

Some important features from IP Scanner include:

  • The tool lists device details that include name, manufacturer, IP address, operating system, MAC address, and even spot any open ports.
  • It scans your local network and returns a sortable list of the devices it discovers.
  • Admins can see the last time a device was polled to find out if it is currently up or down.
  • They can also see which devices operate using legacy operating systems and use the list for upgrade campaigns.
  • In fact, they can even spot open ports that put the devices at risk.

This is a handy suite of tools on its own, but there are many more solutions from Spiceworks that it can integrate with for even more effectiveness in network administration.

You can start using SpiceWorks IP Scanner by signing up for FREE.

2. Eusing Free IP Scanner

This tool is for admins who choose to only use Windows computers. It is a tiny (433 KB) but a nifty tool to quickly run and scan all the devices that are on a network.

Free IP Scanner dashboard

Apart from being tiny, and having an almost-zero digital footprint, Eusing’s Free IP Scanner gives admins the exact information they need and displays it in a no-nonsense, detailed table. The information includes:

  • A report showing all devices that are connected to the network, with their IP addresses, MAC addresses, user names, and any open ports.
  • The ability to limit scans by using IP address limits.
  • It uses multi-thread scanning which allows it to scan hundreds of computers on large networks in mere seconds.
  • Alternatively, admins can upload IP addresses as text-file lists for customized scanning.
  • Scan results can also be exported to text files for safekeeping or later access.

Users of this free IP scanner will appreciate the fact that it is a tool that was created for the precise purpose it was named after and is easy to use and extract information from.

Download your copy of Eusing IP Scanner for FREE.

3. ManageEngine OpUtils

ManageEngine’s OpUtils comes to us from Zoho, a company that is well-known for its online office and business software suites. With OpUtils too, it has continued to uphold this tradition and has delivered a high-quality tool that offers superior performance.

ManageEngine OpUtils dashboard

OpUtils is an “IP address and switch port management” tool that is easy to install and use. There are also Windows and Linux versions to download and they also come with the database options for PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server in the back.

This is a tool with a browser interface that makes it easy to configure and run without burdening a network or hogging other resources.

Among its many other features, OpUtils offers:

  • Scan your network (or a subnet) and list IP and MAC addresses – find out which ones you’ve used and the transient ones.
  • Admins can use this tool to resolve – and pair – DNS and MAC addresses for a range of IP addresses.
  • It can be used to ban “rogue” IP (or MAC) addresses – which can be uploaded via txt file lists, for example.
  • There are sets of CISCO and SNMP tools included to help with network administration, configuration, and diagnostics.
  • Access to ping, traceroute, proxy ping, and SNMP ping – network command tools to check if devices are online and, if they are, to collect information like DNS names, locations, and system descriptions.

With this tool in hand, administrators can not only resolve (back and forth) between their MAC and IP addresses but also take full control of their network and connected devices. Needless to say, this is a tool for businesses and administrators of larger networks.

You can download your FULL FREE version of ManageEngine OpUtils here (the tool reverts to the free version after 30 days).

What other information can you get from a MAC address?

Now, some might still wonder why they would need to resolve a MAC address into an IP address. Well, apart from finding the IP address of a device, there is more information that can be extracted from a MAC address, including:

  • Network – once the IP address has been identified, it is easy to determine the network it is connected to.
  • Hostname – using the ping command will show the device’s name and more detailed descriptive information.
  • Manufacturer – most NICs are “tagged” by the companies that make them; this information can be used to build a clearer profile of the connected device.

Finally, it is important to know that a MAC address cannot be propagated beyond your local area network. In fact, the router uses the MAC addresses to easily identify the devices that are connected within the local network.

This means that if you can see a MAC address listed in the router (by using the arp command, for example) and you realize it doesn’t belong to one of your own devices, then there is a chance you might have a rouge device connected directly to your network!

Alternatively, you can reverse this theory and consider the fact that, since your MAC address is registered in a router (that also maps it to an IP address), the information can be used to trace your online activity. This can be avoided with the help of a VPN or proxy server, especially when you need to ensure your privacy.

Well, that’s that. Let us know what you think about the relationship between your IP and MAC addresses by leaving us a comment below.