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How to Ping a MAC Address

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Quick Answer

Looking up an Internet protocol (IP) address by directly pinging a MAC address is not possible. However, there are several ways to determine an IP address from a MAC address.

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How to Ping a MAC Address
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Full Answer

An IP address is the unique address of any computer that is connected to the Internet or to a local intranet connection. Even if several computers share a local network, each of them will also share part of their IP address. This also means that the addresses for the computers will look similar, indicating that they are close to each other.

A MAC address is the unique identity of an Ethernet card on a personal computer. This means that all PCs with built-in Ethernet connections have MAC addresses. Keep in mind, however, that not all Internet connections require Ethernet connectivity and that not all MAC addresses will belong to a PC. Some MAC addresses may belong to a printer or any other device that is connected to a local network.

The following shows several methods on how to determine an IP address from a MAC address.

The DHCP Method

This method is the simplest way to determine an IP address from a MAC address. Regardless if the user is in a workplace setting or at home, each computer is assigned an IP address from a dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP). Note that the DHCP console is not available on Home and Standard Windows versions. To look up an IP address via a MAC address using the DHCP console on Windows, a user should simply open the console and check the Address Leases under the Scope folder. Search for the MAC address under the Unique ID column. The Client IP address should be along the same line.

When a user is looking up an IP address from a MAC address at home, he or she should log on to the router. This method will vary according to the brand of router, but it should have a section that displays IP addresses and Unique ID addresses. This can be helpful when a user is running a different operating system, such as MAC OS or Linux.

The ARP Command Method

Using the address resolution protocol (ARP) on Windows is another way of looking up an IP address from a MAC address if it is not possible to access the DHCP server on a computer.

First, run the command prompt. Click on the Start button. Type "cmd" without the quotation marks in the text box and then press Enter. This will open the DOS Command Prompt window. An alternative way to get to the command prompt is to click on Start, go to the Accessories folder and click on Command Prompt. Next, run the command. Type "arp -a" without the quotation marks, and then press Enter. This command will display all the connected devices on the network. Lastly, look for the MAC address on the Physical Address column. The corresponding IP address for that particular Physical Address should be along the same line. To ping the address, simply type "ping" and the corresponding IP address on the command prompt. For example, type "ping 192.168.45.1" and then hit Enter.

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