What is Mac Address?

What is Mac Address

There are many myths surrounding MacAddress; for example, some people believe it can help track down stolen laptops. Some people associate it with only Apple Macbooks because of its name. However, neither of the preceding statements is true in any way. A Mac address is essentially a physical address assigned to your machine that uniquely identifies it when it is present on a network. When it comes to connecting the two devices, you’ll need two addresses. The first is your IP address, while the second is your MAC address.

When a device connects to the internet, the MAC address is assigned to the network interface card. This is only the most basic application of MAC addresses; today, we will go over more MAC addresses and how they benefit both users and the network. In addition, we’ll look at the various types of MAC addresses and their histories, so let’s get started, shall we?

What is the need of a MAC Address?

Before we move any further, let’s ask ourselves why we need a MAC address in the first place. A MAC address and an IP address are required for networking to take place. Let’s start with the basics here; suppose every computer that needs to be connected to the other system has to be connected to the second system physically. Then the whole wireless networking concept would go into shambles. In addition to this, the network itself becomes quite complicated, and it becomes expensive as well as hard to use.

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If this happens, then in order to visit Google.com, you will need a physical wire to make a connection with a computer or a server that has Google’s information stored. Now imagine that with this process, every individual in the world who wants to use the internet must have this physical wire to make the one-on-one connection to the server. That would be a real mess indeed. With the use of a MAC address, your machine gets to use the network that is present on the ethernet level. Each of the network cards has its own unique address. Thus, when you send any information via the internet, it gets converted into data packets first, and then it is sent via MAC address to the Ethernet.

On the other hand, when a network adapter receives a packet from the internet, it checks the destination MAC address and then compares it to the device’s MAC address. If addresses are matched, the packet gets processed; otherwise, it will be declined.

Difference Between IP Address And MAC Address

Those who are new to networking or know nothing about it can easily get confused between a MAC address and an IP address. But both of them are completely different from each other, and in this section of our article, we are going to show you their differences side by side.

MAC Address IP Address
MAC address is a unique identifier that is assigned to your NIC. The MAC address can be a 48-bit address or 64-bit address, which again is associated with the network adapter. The IP address used to have IPv4 notation which used a 32-bit address. Now the latest IPv6 comes with a 128-bit address which is present in hexadecimal notations.
MAC address has a unique identifier that is assigned to your NIC. The MAC address could be a 48-bit address or 64-bit address, which again is associated with the network adapter. The IP address has either a four-byte or an eight-byte address, depending on the type of version you are using betweenIPv4 and IPv6. The full form of IP address is called Internet Protocol address.
MAC addresses can be present in the hexadecimal format. Also, the full form of MAC address is the Media Access Control address. We need an IP address to make a secure connection with the internet to transfer files from one computer to the other via the internet.
We need a MAC address as it helps us in creating a secure connection and keeps the unwanted connections at bay. There is no way one can accurately track down the IP address as the IP address keeps on changing on the device. We can find the near proximity of the device with the use of an IP address.
Also, MAC addresses are unique; as a result, in some cases, we can track down the device if it is connected to the same LAN network. The IP address does not use the MAC address in any way possible, and it is independent in forming a connection with the network.
TCP/IP networks can easily use MAC addresses for their communication Furthermore, IP addresses are assigned by the Internet Service Provider or the network administrator.
The MAC address is assigned by the manufacturer of the interface hardware. IP addresses are used for the computer to connect to the internet.
MAC is used for identifying the device IP addresses are quite flexible in nature as they change every time there is a new network connection established.
MAC addresses are not flexible at all, and they remain the same throughout the lifetime of the device. The IP addresses are designed in such a way that they can easily broadcast the files to other systems as well.
MAC addresses can also be used for broadcasting purposes. MAC addresses can help a user in solving IP address issues. When there is an issue in the MAC address, the IP address won’t be helpful in solving the issues.

Different Types Of MAC Address

There are a total of three different types of MAC addresses, and in this section, we wil be discussing each one of them.

1. Unicast

The unicast address is only sent out to the interface that leads to the specific NIC. That means when the least significant bit (LSB) of the first octet of the address is zero, then the frame is meant to reach only one receiving NIC. Keep in mind that the MAC address of a source machine will always be present in the Unicast.

2. Multicast

With the help of multicast, a computer is able to send a frame to a set of devices. On Layer-2 of the Ethernet, you will find the Multicast address. In addition to this, when both the multicast address and the LSB of the first octet are set to 1, that’s when a multicast address is formed. The IEEE has allocated the address block 01-80-C2-xx-xx-xx (01-80-C2-00-00-00 to 01-80-C2-FF-FF-FF).

3. Broadcast

The broadcast MAC address is the one that represents all the devices that are connected to the network. For the broadcast, the MAC address assigned by IEEE is FFFF.FFFF. FFFF is the broadcast address. As a result, if any device wants to send data to a number of devices available on the network, it needs to use this address in terms of the destination of the MAC address.

Architecture of MAC Address

To understand how the MAC address works, we first need to know about its architecture. Any MAC address that is present in the network adapter has six outlets, and each of them is divided into three outlets, each having eight bits for itself. The first outlet is known as OUI, and it is used to recognise which company was behind the manufacturing of physical hardware.

After that comes a 24-bit number in which you are going to see three pairs of digits, which will help you understand what type of interface the device is using. In most cases, this 24-bit number represents the network interface. The following three octets each contain eight bits and have four different parts that encode the various pieces of information.Each of these parts is defined below:

1. Receiver (First Part)

The first set of digits shows us the address, which is associated with a group of devices or with an individual computer. The receiver part is quite short, just like I/G. Thus, it is also known as a unicast address when it becomes equal to zero. On the other hand, when the first part becomes equal to 1, then it is known as multicast. Lastly, when it’s neither zero nor one, it falls into the third category of the MAC address, which is then broadcast.

2. Registry (Second Part)

With the second set of digits, you will be able to determine the global and local validity, and it is called U/L. If the value of the second part is zero, then it becomes universal. On the other hand, if it becomes one, then the MAC address is locally administered.

3. Identification of the manufacturer (Third Part)

From the start of the 3rd bit to the 24th, each of them is used for the organizationally unique identifier, which was introduced by IEEE in the first place.

4. Adapter Identifier (Fourth Part)

Last, we have an adapter identifier that is used from the 25th bit to the 48th bit. From these bits, we get a special number called a “hardware identifier,” which is used to identify the right network adapter.

How to find MAC Address in Windows Operating System?

One of the quickest ways to find out what the MAC address of your computer is is to check it through the command prompt. For this, you need to open the command prompt by searching for it in the taskbar. Or, if you have the older version, you need to right-click on the start button and then select the command prompt from the menu.

1. Using Command Prompt

Once you are in the command prompt, you need to type in ipconfig /all and then press Enter. This will show you all the network configurations that you have on the system, along with your MAC address. But you are not going to find “MAC address” written in all the information that is present. As a result, you need to look for the network adapter and then look for the “Physical address,” which is also known as your MAC address.

2. From Network Connection:

Now there is one more way to find out the MAC address of your machine without having to open the command prompt. For this, you have to go to “view network status and tasks” from the search. Once the network connection is opened, you have to navigate through the connections that say “ethernet.” Click on the Details button and then locate the physical address from the menu.

3. From Taskbar

Another method to find out the MAC address of your computer is by clicking on the icon on your taskbar that represents the network. You can find it next to the clock in the bottom right corner of the desktop screen. Once you find it, you need to right-click on the network connection to open the properties. This will also open the network’s settings window. Now you need to scroll down to the properties section, and then your MAC address should be present right next to the physical address.

How to find MAC Address in Linux Operating System?

In order to find the MAC address of your system on a Linux operating system, the best way to do it is by opening up your terminal and simply typing the ifconfig command. This will open all the information related to your network, and from this information, you have to look for HWaddr. Once you locate it, the address that is displayed on its right side will be your MAC address.

There are several ways to find your computer’s MAC address in Linux, but all of them require you to open the terminal.You can choose other commands to write in the terminal in order to find the MAC address. Ifconfig is just one of them.

How to find MAC Address in Mac Operating System?

To view the MAC address on Mac OS, you need to open the “system preferences” and locate the “network.” After that, you need to open the network settings and go to the “advanced button.” In the advanced setting options, you will find different options, but the one you should be looking for is “hardware.” When you click on it, you will find the MAC address written in the menu, and you can even configure it if you want to.


So, exactly what is a MAC address? It is a unique identifier assigned to your machine by the NIC. It is also useful in determining a secure method of sending and receiving files over a network. We’ve shown you several methods for checking your machine’s MAC address in various operating systems. We hope this article assisted you in resolving the issue and finding the solution you were looking for. If there is anything else you would like us to include in this article, please leave a comment and let us know.


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