How to alter your MAC address on Windows and Mac
Changing your MAC address will help you make a server or an ISP believe that the traffic that's coming from your PC is actually originating from a different computer on the network. There are quite a few situations in which such a thing can be quite useful, but unfortunately not many people know how to do this. This is why I've decided to write this guide and show you how to spoof the MAC address that identifies your Windows PC or your Mac-powered device.
Before we begin, I think I should tell those of you who aren't that tech-savvy what a MAC address actually is. The MAC address is a unique identifier that allows a network to recognize your PC. It's made up from a series of 12 letters and numbers, and it's generally displayed in a format that looks like this 00-AB-C3-34-56-DC. The identifier is generated by your network card and, in theory, this address should always remain the same, but you can easily change it.
Why would you spoof your MAC? Many people would tell you that it will help you mask your Internet activities, as the server will be tricked into thinking that your traffic is generated by a different device, but it's not actually that easy. Most ISP providers filter the MACs that are allowed to connect to them, so if you use a random MAC address that's not in their database, you won't be able to connect to the network. If you want this to work you will need to specifically imitate the MAC address of a computer that's already in the database. So, this will be most useful in case you bought a new PC or Mac and your network doesn't recognize it. You will be able to morph you MAC address into the one that your old device had until the admin has the time to add your new MAC address to the database.
Since, as I said, most network protections are based on MAC addresses, it's a good idea to write yours down before you actually attempt to change it. If you're not sure how to see your current MAC address, it's quite easy:
- Windows - press the Win+R combination, then type "cmd" (without quotes) and press Enter. In the command prompt window that opens up type "ipconfig /all" (once again without quotes), the press Enter and look for the field named "Physical Address".
- Mac - go to the Apple menu, open the System Preferences and click on Network. Now, choose the connection that you are using, press the Advanced button, then click on Hardware and you'll see your MAC address there.
As far as changing your MAC address goes, here's what you need to do:
The simplest way to manually change your MAC on a Windows PC is to do it from the device manager:
- Right-click the Start button.
- Select Control Panel.
- Press the Hardware and Sound button.
- Click on Device Manager (you will need administrator privileges).
- Expand the Network Adapters section.
- Right-click the network card that you're currently using and choose Properties.
- Go to the Advanced tab.
- Select the Network Address option.
- Click on the small circle in front of the box marked as Value.
- Enter your new MAC address, but remember to write all the 12 characters together, without including any dashes.
- Press OK when you're done.
In case this sounds too complicated, you should know that there are several applications that will help you change your MAC address. As far as I'm concerned, the tool called Change MAC Address is my preferred choice as it offers a few useful extra features such as helping you change your MAC address to mimic a network card produced by a specific manufacturer. Furthermore, the app is so easy to use that even complete beginners can quickly find their way around and it helps you find the MAC address of the other people on your network. Alternatively you can use other tools such as Hide My MAC Address, Technitium MAC Address Changer (this one is free) or MAC Address Anonymize.
Changing a MAC address on a Mac is even easier than on a Windows-powered PC. Here's how:
- Go to Applications.
- Click on Utilities.
- Open the Terminal
- Type: "sudo ifconfig en0 ether aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff", but remove the quotes, replace the aa:bb:cc:ff:ee:ff with the actual address that you want to use and press Enter. In case it doesn't work, you're probably using the other Ethernet port, so you need to replace en0 with en1.
- Optionally you can type "openssl rand -hex 6 | sed ‘s/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//’ | xargs sudo ifconfig en0 ether" (without quotes) then press Enter and you can generate a completely random MAC address. Once again, if doesn't work, change the en0 part into en1.
- Close the Terminal and you're done.
Just like on Windows there are a few Mac apps that will help you change your MAC address, but since Apple's operating system makes it so easy to do this, there are a bit fewer choices. As far as I'm concerned, MACSpoofer is the best application to help you with this task because it's completely free and incredibly easy to use. If you don't like MacSpoofer, you can try out WiFiSpoof.
As a last note, you should know that the best way to use a MAC spoofing tool is to make it change your current MAC address into one that's already registered on your network. To do this, you will need to use some kind of MAC scanner, a program that identifies the other people on your network and gives you a list with their MAC addresses. However, you should know that there can't be two similar MAC addresses connected to the same network at the same time, so you should make sure that the person whose MAC you're taking isn't online and that they won't try to connect while you're online. Since you can do some pretty nasty stuff using a MAC scanner, I'm not going to give you anymore details, but Google doesn't care as much about morality as I do.
Now that you know how to alter your MAC address on Windows and Mac, you might also want to learn "How to a create a USB recovery drive for Windows 10", "How to fix Windows 10-related WiFi problems" or "How to fix your PC's USB ports".