A MAC address is a unique identifier that is assigned to each physical network interface on a computer. Different than a computers IP address, MAC addresses are frequently used for network access control and to monitor network connectivity, and they can be spoofed for virtualization needs or to circumvent some network limitations. If you need to access yours, here’s how to find one from the friendly GUI and the command line.
Locate a MAC Address in Mac OS X
To quickly find a MAC address:
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu
- Click on “Network”
- Select your currently active network connection from the left menu (Wi-Fi, Ethernet, etc) and then click on “Advanced” in the lower right corner
- Look at the bottom of the window for “Wi-Fi Address”, the hexadecimal characters next to this are the machines MAC address
The address is always in the form aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff, looking something like “ce:9e:8d:02:1d:e9″ or a variation of.
Note that the wireless MAC address will be labeled as “Wi-Fi Address” in OS X 10.7 Lion and later as well as iPhone and iOS, whereas it’s called “Airport Address” in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and before.
List All Network Hardware MAC Addresses in Mac OS X
To quickly list all MAC addresses of network hardware on a Mac, even if they are currently inactive, launch the Terminal and type the following command:
This may return something like this, look for the string following “Ethernet Address” to find the MAC address per interface:
Hardware Port: Bluetooth DUN
Ethernet Address: db:26:cd:41:c3:79
Hardware Port: Ethernet
Ethernet Address: 21:d3:91:bb:11:bd
Hardware Port: FireWire
Ethernet Address: c6:18:ed:fa:ff:15:db:51
Hardware Port: Wi-Fi
Ethernet Address: f2:8b:fc:ae:bb:f5
Notice that even a wi-fi cards MAC address will be referred to as “Ethernet address” using the networksetup command. You can also retrieve individual IP addresses and MAC addresses together with the ifconfig command, although the output isn’t nearly as user friendly.
If your intention is to spoof an address, generating a random MAC address is usually the best bet to avoid any network conflicts.