While many users are familiar with the concept of an IP address as a marker of their location on a network, you may not know as much about the ways that a computer network connects specific systems and servers together. For example, though IP addresses are useful to point data to the right general location, a MAC address identifies specific devices and users to ensure that data reaches the correct person. Certain programs and network environments require you to know your device's MAC address – and if you suspect that someone may be piggy-backing on your WiFi network, identifying the MAC addresses of your devices is a quick way to know who should and shouldn't be connected. If you want to find the MAC address of a laptop manufactured by HP or a similar company, you can use one of two simple methods to locate it.
What is a MAC Address?
A Media Access Control address, more commonly known as a MAC address, is used to guide packets of data to the right point in a network. These work in tandem with IP addresses to ensure that data reaches the correct specific location, rather than a general one: if an IP address marks your location, a MAC address marks your specific device. All devices with wireless or Ethernet cards have MAC addresses, and these addresses are unique to the individual device – because each address is assigned not by the system or network like an IP address, but by the manufacturer of the Ethernet card itself. Because the majority of modern computers are wired for both physical and wireless internet connections, many devices will have multiple MAC addresses assigned to them. On laptops as well as desktop computers, these addresses are often listed somewhere on the device.
Physical MAC Address Tags
The majority of company manufactured computers – laptop and desktop alike – will list the device's MAC addresses on service tags or information stickers. While the locations of these tags and stickers vary by manufacturer and model, on an HP, the MAC address will most often be listed on a service tag located on the underside of the computer. On non-HP laptops this tag will sometimes be placed behind the laptop's battery – which will need to be removed. The tag will list a sequence of twelve characters segmented by dashes: this is your device's MAC address. When identifying an address in this way, examine the tag closely to ensure that you're reading the correct address – as these tags will often list both the wireless and Ethernet addresses beside each other.
Easy MAC Address Lookup
If your laptop's MAC address isn't listed on a tag, or if the tag has worn away to become unreadable, you can still identify the address through the MAC address lookup function in the Command Prompt. To use this function, open the Command Prompt by clicking the Windows 10 Search bar, or by clicking the "Start" button and selecting the "Search" option in earlier versions of Windows. Type "cmd" and press the "Enter" key to open the Command Prompt. Once the Command Prompt window has opened, type the command "getmac /v" (without quotes) and press "Enter" again. You will be presented with a list of your laptop's methods of connecting to the internet. Your laptop's MAC addresses will be listed under the "Physical Address" column.