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- There are plenty of reasons you may want to change your MAC address such as privacy, device identification, and restriction.
- You can change your MAC address in windows by using either the Device Manager, Control Panel, or third-party software.
- To change your MAC address on a Mac computer, you need to open a Terminal window.
By default, every device has a MAC address assigned to it from the factory that remains unchanged forever as long as it lasts. However, this default MAC address can be masked by “spoofing” it as another MAC address. We’ll explain in this article how to do it and why you may want to.
What is MAC address and what is it used for
MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique set of twelve-digit hexadecimal code, often in a format like 29:CD:84:EF:73:GH. Also known as the hardware address or physical address, they are often “burned-in” to a physical device by the manufacturer and are used to identify and track devices uniquely within a network — so that the network knows precisely which device it’s communicating with.
Note that a MAC address is different from an IP address. While a MAC address remains constant, an IP address changes whenever you moved from one network to another. For a better explanation, MAC address is provided by your device maker while your IP Address is from your Internet Service Provider.
Why would you want to change your MAC address?
Typically a MAC address is hard-coded to the network interface of a device and doesn’t change, or at least it’s not supposed to. However, you can change or spoof it (sort of), and there are many practical reasons you would want to change your MAC address.
Masking or changing the identity of a computer or a device can be done for worthy or illicit reasons. In this article, we’ll focus on legitimate reasons why a MAC address may be change, some of which includes:
1. Privacy: Because your MAC address is unique, it can be used to track you. Whenever you move around, your smartphone scans for any available Wi-Fi networks and communicates its MAC address. By regularly changing your MAC address, you make it very difficult for networks to track your device’s location and usage.
2. Device Identification: Many public Wi-Fi networks (like airports or cafes) use the MAC address of a device to identify it. For example, If you are using a time-out Wi-Fi that offers only a limit of free 45 minutes, you can keep receiving more Wi-Fi just by changing your MAC address every 45 minutes.
3. MAC Address Restriction: Networks can use MAC address filtering to assign specific rules by only allowing devices with certain MAC addresses to connect to a network. This isn’t a great security tool, by the way, because you can easily bypass this rule by changing your MAC address to be within that range and connect to it.
Note: Each network interface has its hardware address. A computer with a wired Ethernet port and a Wi-Fi radio will have two MAC addresses, one for the wired connection and one for the wireless connection.
There are different methods to change MAC address in Windows. You can also use third-party software.
1. Open the Device Manager. Type “device” or “device manager” in the search bar in the bottom-left of your screen and click the search result. The Device Manager has a list of all hardware installed on your computer sorted into categories.
2. Expand Network Adapters. Scroll down to “Network adapters” and expand it by clicking the arrow next to it.
3. Right-click the adapter that you want to change and select Properties in the menu that opens up. This will open the network adapter’s properties window.
4. In the new properties window, click the Advanced tab and select Network Address in the list displayed under Property.
5. You will see a “Value” field on the right. By default, the “Not Present” value is selected. Click the Value radio button to enter a new MAC address. MAC addresses are six pairs of hexadecimal digits and should be entered without any spaces or colons. For example, if you want to make the MAC address 4B:2C:5D:4F:8A:7E, you would type 4B2C5D4F8A7E.
6. Click OK and Restart your computer or your network adapter to apply changes.
To check if your MAC address changes took effect. Open Command Prompt and enter ipconfig /all. Note the MAC address in the value next to “Physical Address.” That’s your new MAC address.
If this does not work for you, you’ll need to use one of the other methods below.
Note: You can’t have two devices with the same MAC address active simultaneously on a network. If you intend to revert to your default MAC address, don’t forget to record your original MAC address before you change it!
1. Open Control Panel. Type Control panel in the search bar in the bottom-left of your screen and click the search result.
2. Select Network and Internet.
3. Click Network and Sharing Center.
4. Click Change adapter settings on the left panel.
5. Right-click the adapter you want to change and select Properties in the menu that opens up.
6. In the Properties window, click the Configure button.
7. In the new properties window, click the Advanced tab and select Network Address in the list displayed under Property.
8. You will see a “Value” field on the right. By default, the ‘Not Present’ value is selected. Click the Value radio button to enter a new MAC address.
9. Click OK and Restart your computer or your network adapter to apply changes.
In addition to Device Manager and Control Panel, you can also change MAC address in Windows by using a MAC address changer. These are third-party software tools you can download and use. One of these tools is Technitium MAC Address Changer. To change your MAC address with this tool, follow these steps:
1. Download Technitium MAC Address Changer and run it.
2. When Technitium MAC Address Changer starts, it will show you the list of all network adapters on your computer. Select the network adapter that you want to change.
3. Navigate to the Change MAC address section and enter a new MAC address. You also have the option to click the “Random MAC Address” button to generate a random MAC address for you.
4. Click the Change Now! button to change your MAC address. If you wish to restore your default MAC address settings, click the Restore Original button.
Another MAC address changer tool you can use is NoVirus Thanks MAC Address Changer. This tool is free and works similar to Technitium MAC Address Changer. You can manually or randomly enter your new MAC address and restore your default MAC address.
How to change MAC address in Mac OS
To change the MAC address in your Mac computer, do the following:
1. First, you’ll want to check and note your MAC address number. Hold down the Option key and click the Wi-Fi sign in the upper right corner of your macOS.
2. You’ll see your MAC address in gray letters on the drop-down menu that appears.
3. Open a Terminal window. Go to Applications > choose Utilities > select Terminal.
4. Type in the following command in the Terminal: sudo ifconfig en0 ether aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff. Replace the alphabet with the MAC address you want. The network interface will generally be either en0 or en1, depending on whether you want to configure your Mac’s Ethernet or Wi-Fi interface. If you want to set a completely random MAC address instead, type in or copy and paste from here, openssl rand -hex 6 | sed ‘s/(..)/1:/g; s/.$//’ | xargs sudo ifconfig en0 ether and hit enter. You can replace en0 with en1, depending on whether you want to configure Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
5. Restart your computer to apply changes.
Change MAC address on Windows or Mac FAQs
Answer to related questions people also ask:
Where do I find my MAC address on Windows 10?
- Right-click on the Start button and select Command Prompt.
- Type in “ipconfig /all” and hit Enter.
- Scroll down to your network adapter and locate the “Physical Address,” that’s your MAC address.
Where to find MAC address on MacBook?
Open the Apple Menu > System Preference > Network > Wi-Fi. If you’re using an Ethernet cable to connect to a network, click “Ethernet” instead of Wi-Fi. Next, click “Advanced.”
Click “Wi-Fi” in the Wi-Fi window. You’ll see your MacBook’s Wi-Fi MAC address listed as the “Wi-Fi Address.”
Click “Hardware” in the Ethernet window to see your MacBook’s Ethernet MAC address.
Does VPN change MAC address?
While VPN service encrypts your connection traffic and data, it does not change the MAC address of your device. VPN service hides your traffic by using an IP address different from your location IP.
Can a VPN hide your MAC address?
A VPN cannot hide your MAC address. Because a VPN hides your IP address, it cannot hide your MAC address from a router. Furthermore, if your MAC address were to be hidden from the router, you would not be able to connect to the internet.