What is the WiFi MAC address

Quickly explained for PC and Mac: What is a MAC address and how do you find it?

In order to be able to uniquely identify a computer, there is a so-called MAC address. This is only assigned once for each PC worldwide, like a kind of fixed serial number. The following instructions show exactly what this is all about and how you can find the MAC address of your PC.

What is a MAC address?

A MAC address (Media Access Control) is used to uniquely identify a computer hardware, for example a PC, and is usually stored on the network adapter. Each address consists of numbers between 0 to 9 and letters from A to F. It also provides information about the manufacturer of a hardware, since certain MAC addresses are assigned to each manufacturer. For example, the initial sequence of digits "00-07-E9" stands for Intel, "00-60-2F" for Cisco and "00-15-F2" for Asus.

Incidentally, a MAC address has nothing to do with the Apple Mac. On the contrary: Apple also likes to call the MAC address "Ethernet ID", "Airport ID" or "WiFi address". At Microsoft it is also called the "physical address" because it is connected to the hardware and cannot be changed.

The MAC address plays a role, for example, in networks with several computers that are connected to one another via WLAN or LAN. For example, you can set up a WLAN router so that only certain computers have access to the Internet. To do this, you must enter the respective MAC address of these devices in a list in the router's software. This is how you protect your network from unauthorized access by unauthorized devices. However, hackers can read out the MAC addresses and fake a false one ("MAC spoofing"). This system therefore does not offer any reliable protection.

Finding a MAC address: It's that easy

Sometimes the MAC address is on a sticker on the network adapter. You can also find it out by typing in a few commands.

For Windows computers: Type "Run" into the search in the start menu. Enter "cmd" in the new window. A window with a black background appears. Enter "ipconfig / all" after the prompt and press Return. The "Physical address" line contains the MAC address of your computer.

For Apple computers: In macOS the corresponding command is called "ifconfig". It is entered in the "Terminal" program. You can also select "Network" in the system settings and click on "Additional options" and "Ethernet" for the desired interface. The "Ethernet ID" displayed is the MAC address.