How to Find Your IP Address
You can find your IP address in your computer’s settings. An IP address is four numbers (usually) that make an important part of how your devices connect to the internet, as well as how you are seen and tracked online. It usually works behind the scenes making sure that the data you request makes it back to your computer, but sometimes you need it when troubleshooting your home network or internet connection. There are several ways you can find your IP address, so we’ll go through some of the basic ones.
How to find your IP address in a browser
No matter what device you’re using, one simple way of finding your IP address is simply asking Google. The steps are pretty easy:
- Open a browser like Chrome or Safari.
- Navigate to Google.
- Search for “What is my IP address?”
- Google will display your IP address at the top of the search results.
This method requires the extra step of running a browser (which you’re doing anyway if you’re reading this), but it’s still pretty simple on any platform. There are also other sites that will tell you your IP address, along with other information, such as guessing your rough location based on your IP address.
How to find your IP address on a PC
The fastest way to find your IP address on a PC is to use the IPCONFIG command. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open the Command Prompt. This can be done by finding it in your Start Menu, by right-clicking on the Windows icon at the bottom of the screen, or by just searching for “Command Prompt.”
- Type the command “IPCONFIG” into the Command Prompt and press Enter. This will list all the Windows IP configuration information.
- Your IP address is the IPv4 Address. which should be four numbers separated by periods.
How to find your IP address on a Mac
- Click the Apple icon, and choose System Preferences.
- Select Network.
- Find and select your network, and then click Advanced at the bottom of the window.
- Under the TCP/IP tab, the IP address should be listed next to IPv4 Address.
How to find your IP address on an Android device
- Navigate to Settings.
- Select Network & internet.
- Go to Wi-Fi and click on the Wi-Fi network you’re using.
- Hit Advanced.
- Your IP address is listed under IP address.
How to find your IP address on an iOS device
- Open Settings and select Wi-Fi.
- Find and select your Wi-Fi network.
- Your IP address is listed under IP Address.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a number that identifies your device on the internet. IP stands for internet protocol, or the rules and standards that devices use to communicate with each other over the internet. This protocol is responsible for making sure that all of your online requests go where you want them to go and come back.
Any time you interact with a website, your device has to send a message to a web server, telling it what you want to do. If you click on a link, your device sends a message to the server asking for the new page. Your IP address tells the server where it needs to send the new page.
Every packet of information that travels across the internet has both the IP address of its source and its destination, along with other information about the packet. These addresses ensure that your information is routed in the right direction as it winds its way through the pathways of the internet.
How do I get an IP address?
Every device that connects to the internet is assigned an IP address. This is usually done by your internet service provider (ISP), though it can’t just make up a new number for you. There are large international organizations that divide up available numbers by region. These regional organizations then give them out to ISPs that operate in those regions so that they can assign them to devices—like yours—on their network.
Is my computer’s IP address permanent?
Your IP address isn’t permanent and can change periodically. This can happen for many reasons, such as turning your modem off or having certain kinds of service disruption. Although older dial-up connections assigned a new IP address every time you connected, most modern internet connections will keep the same address most of the time.
Your IP address will also change if you connect to a different network. For example, if you take your laptop to a coffee shop and connect to its Wi-Fi, the coffee shop’s ISP will assign you a new IP address so that it knows where to send the information you’re requesting from the internet.
Can I be tracked by my IP address?
Yes, you can be tracked by your IP address. In fact, that’s the whole point. Your ISP tracks your IP address in order to make sure the information you want—which could be text, images, video, or more—gets to your device. That also means that lots of other people on the internet could see where you’re going on the internet. For example, advertisers might use your location to sell you products or media companies might restrict access to content in certain countries.
Since IP addresses change fairly often, it’s pretty hard to trace them back to a specific person or home address (unless someone subpoenas that information from your ISP). It does, however, give a fairly good idea of where information is going. For example, one developer was able to create a program that tweeted every time someone from the US congress edited a Wikipedia article.1
Your IP address can be used to track your online activity, even if you’re browsing in private or incognito mode. If you don’t want your location to be public, you can use a VPN service to hide your IP address. For more information, check out our review of the best VPN services.
Author - Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years, working as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.
Editor - Aaron Gates