MAC Address Dictionary Definitions

Everyone should know better by now, but some still believe that they are anonymous on the Internet. This is not the case: users can be identified directly via an ID that is assigned to devices and networks. Forum posts, comments in the social media network or photos can quickly be traced back to the sender. Because while you are online, you leave your mark. The MAC address and your IP address identify you as the author. Check abbreviationfinder for acronym of MAC.

  • A MAC address is assigned to every device in a network.
  • For many devices, you can find your MAC address in the settings.
  • Unlike the IP address, each MAC address is unique in the world.
  • The MAC address shouldn’t be changed, but there are tricks you can use to adjust it.

What is a MAC address?

First of all, it should be made clear: The MAC address is not only valid for Apple users. Because this abbreviation has nothing to do with the MacBook, which is also abbreviated to Mac. The letter combination stands for “Media Access Control”. The MAC address is therefore the physical address of the network interface. The transmission technology has no influence on the number – regardless of whether you use WLAN, Token Ring, Ethernet, FDDI or Bluetooth. The physical address has a length of 6 bytes, which corresponds to 48 bits. It is assigned to exactly one adapter. Means: If you work with two adapters (for example with LAN and WLAN adapter on the laptop), you are using two different MAC addresses.

What does a MAC address look like?

The MAC addresses are all structured uniformly, the order of the numbers and letters is precisely defined. The first two bits provide information about the type of address, for example whether it is an individual or a group address. The next sequence of digits determines the manufacturer ID of the network hardware or the network card. The IEEE – the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – assigns an Organizationally Unique Identifier – in short: OUI – to the various manufacturers of the hardware parts. The last part of the MAC address determines the exact address of the manufacturer. This means that the entire identifier is unique. Each device displays its MAC address in hexadecimal notation.

What is the MAC address for?

The MAC identifier is used to integrate a device in a LAN or WLAN network. Different identifiers and data make the device recognizable – primarily the respective name. However, if this information cannot be accessed, your mobile device or computer can be precisely identified via the MAC address. This address is essential if you want to prevent coupling to the wrong device within a network. By entering the unique MAC address in the router settings of your network, you can securely transmit sensitive data to a specific recipient. It is precisely recorded which devices receive certain information from the router – whether smartphone , tablet or TV set with internet access.

Find the MAC address

You can easily find out your individual MAC address yourself. How you do this depends on the device you are using. So there are different ways for

  • Windows devices,
  • MacBook,
  • iPhone/ iPad and
  • Android

In Windows type in the start menu under the point “Run” the sequence “CMD” and then “ipconfig / all”. Scroll to “Physical address” to read the address. On your MacBook it is sufficient to enter “ifconfig en0 | grep ether” in the terminal. For the iPhone and Android models, you can find the number in the settings: for the iPhone under “General” and “Info”, for the Android device under “About the phone” or “About device”.

Change MAC address

The idea behind the MAC addresses is an immutable recognition. However, there are various options in Windows that you can use to adjust your MAC address. Experts speak of spoofing here. Various tools are available to you for this. These make it possible to change the entry in the Windows registry. With ChangeMAC-2013 you enter the character string yourself (note the hexadecimal code!), With Technitium MAC Address Changer use the “Random MAC Address” button.

Important: In principle, changing the MAC address is not recommended, as this can lead to a block in various network services. It should also be mentioned in this context that MAC addresses can also become the target of hackers who cause sensitive data to be transmitted to third-party devices through spoofing.

Difference between MAC address and IP address

There is a crucial difference between a MAC address and an IP address: The MAC address is unique, regardless of which device you use when surfing the Internet. While there are no two devices in the world with the same MAC address, the IP address is sometimes used twice. It happens that computers, smartphones or tablets from different networks have the same IP address. The primary function of the IP address is therefore to make a device recognizable within a network. There are also differences between the two identification numbers in terms of structure: The IP address usually consists of a series of numbers, all three digits separated from each other by a period. MAC addresses also use strings of letters, hyphens, and combinations of numbers and letters.