How to Find Your Mac’s IP Address

Step-by-step instructions for finding your unique internet protocol address

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Aug 25, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Aug 25, 2021

Your Mac’s IP address isn’t just a random string of numbers. It tells your computer’s location, which is probably your location. How do you find your Mac’s IP address? We’ve made it as easy as possible.

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How to Find Your Mac’s IP Address

The easiest way to find your Mac’s IP address is to use our IP address lookup tool. However, you can also find it manually with our step-by-step instructions.

To find your Mac’s internal IP address:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Select Network.
  3. Under Network Name, make sure it’s the correct network connection for your wireless network.
  4. Click Advanced.
  5. Click TCP/IP.
  6. You’ll see your IP address under IPv4 Address.

External/Public IP Address

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Click Network. Make sure your Wi-Fi network is next to Network Name.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click TCP/IP.
  5. Look next to where it says Router.

Using Terminal

  1. In the Spotlight search, type in Terminal.
  2. Click Enter.
  3. Enter ipcongif getifaddr en0, and your local IP address will show up.
  4. To see your public IP address, type curl itconfig.me.1

Changing your location on your Mac usually requires a Mac VPN. Set up a VPN on your Mac so no one knows where you’re coming from, or learn more about how to find your computer’s IP address.

What Is an IP Address?

An internet protocol address, otherwise known as an IP address, is a Mac’s (or any device’s) identifying number. It comes from either the internet service provider or the router, and lets the Mac communicate inside and outside of its network. IP addresses are necessary for the Mac to receive information, but they also reveal the Mac’s location via its region and postal code.

Do We Need IP Addresses?

Devices like Macs need IP addresses to connect to other devices, whether they’re in-network (on the same router) or out-of-network (on different routers). IP addresses are also associated with specific websites; for every domain name out there, there’s also a unique IP address. So yes, IP addresses are necessary if you want to use the internet.

Public vs. Private IP Addresses

Not to confuse you too much, but your Mac actually has two different IP addresses: a public IP address, also known as an external IP, and a private IP address, or internal. Both addresses reveal your network’s location, but that’s where the similarities end.

Features Public Private
Reveals the network location Yes Yes
Where it comes from Internet service provider Router
Who can see it? Other devices outside of the network Only you
Otherwise known as External Internal
Where it’s used Outside of network Within network

When we talk about hiding your IP address, we are referring to your public IP address. By changing your public IP address, you change your location, meaning you can change your Netflix region, change your Hulu location, or even change your Tinder location. Whether it’s dipping into a new country’s library or chatting with cuties across the sea, it all starts with finding your IP address.

FYI: Private IP address and public IP address are terms used interchangeably with internal IP address and external IP address.

Which Is More Secure?

Private IP addresses are more secure than public IP addresses because even without a VPN, no one can see your private IP address but you (and your internet service provider, of course).

How to Prevent Others From Seeing Your IP Address

If you don’t want someone seeing your location, hiding your IP address is a necessity, especially on public Wi-Fi networks. Our preferred method is to connect to a VPN, but we’ll explain some alternatives as well.

  • VPNs: Not only do they hide your IP address, but VPNs hide your browsing activity as well, giving you even more anonymity online. Learn how to set up a VPN in just a few minutes, or dive into how much VPNs cost.
  • Tor: Most people use Chrome as their web browser,2 but another option is Tor, open-source software that hides your IP address and browsing history. By clearing your cookies after you’re off each website, Tor prevents you from seeing those creepy targeted ads that follow you around everywhere you go. Download Tor for macOS for free on the Tor Project website.3
  • Proxy: Finally, a proxy server is a device that hides your IP address and is usually free, but note that it won’t hide your web activity. On a Mac:
    1. Open the Safari app.
    2. Click Preferences.
    3. Click Advanced.
    4. Click Change Settings.
    5. Enter the information from your network administrator.
    6. Click OK.

    Not sure if you should use a VPN or a proxy? Learn about the differences and similarities between VPNs and proxy servers.

NordVPN Mac App Screenshot
NordVPN Mac App Screenshot

NOTE: Using Tor as your web browser affects your web activity only within that browser and not your web apps. The only way to encrypt all of your web activity across your entire device is to use a VPN.

IP Addresses vs. MAC Addresses

Doing your research, you may have come across something called a MAC address, and no, that’s not the same as your Mac computer. What are the differences between MAC addresses and IP addresses, you ask?

Features MAC Address IP Address
What it stands for Media access control address Internet protocol address
Can a third party find it? No Yes
Does it change? Identifies devices Identifies connection of devices on the network
How many bytes? 6 4 or 8
What kind of protocol it can retrieve ARP RARP
What it’s used for Physical addresses Logical address
Where it operates Datalink layer Network layer
Who provides it NIC card’s manufacturer Internet service provider4

In essence, you don’t have to worry about hiding your MAC address, as third parties can’t find it.

What Information a MAC Address Shows

A MAC address reveals your physical address as opposed to your logical address that operates in your network layer. While a logical address is virtual, a physical address is a real location.

Do We Need Both?

Yes, you need both MAC and IP addresses to use your Mac. But don’t worry; they both come automatically, so they’re not something you’ll need to worry about on a daily basis, aside from hiding your IP address with a VPN or proxy.

How to Find Your MAC Address

Nevertheless, if you want to find your MAC address on your Mac, take these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Network.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. The last line will show your MAC address.

Recap

That’s probably more information than you ever wanted to know about finding your Mac’s IP address, but once you’re done with that, protect your Mac further with macOS antivirus software. And yes, Macs need antivirus, even with their built-in protection. VPNs are only the beginning!

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider us the Mac IP address experts, and look for answers to your most pressing questions below.

  • How do I find my IP address on a Mac?

    To find your IP address on a Mac:

    1. Open System Preferences.
    2. Select Network.
    3. Choose your Wi-Fi Network from the drop-down menu.
    4. Click Advanced.
    5. Click TCP/IP.
    6. See your IP address under IPv4 Address.
  • Do Macs have IP addresses?

    Yes, Macs have IP addresses, much like any other device that’s connected to the internet. Macs have both internal and external IP addresses, which are provided by the router and internet service provider, respectively.

  • Can I change my Mac’s IP address?

    Yes, you can change your Mac’s IP address either manually or by using a proxy server, VPN, or the Tor browser.

  • Is there a Mac IP address lookup tool?

    Yes, there is a Mac IP address lookup tool from Security.org at this address: https://www.security.org/vpn/whats-my-ip-address/.

Citations
  1. AVG. (2021). Find Your IP Address on Windows or Mac.
    avg.com/en/signal/find-ip-address

  2. Statista. (2021). Global market share held by the leading web browser versions as of June 2021.
    statista.com/statistics/268299/most-popular-internet-browsers/

  3. Tor Project. (2021). Download.
    torproject.org/download/

  4. GeeksforGeeks. (2020). Difference between MAC Address and IP Address.
    geeksforgeeks.org/difference-between-mac-address-and-ip-address/