Knowing how to access your router’s admin panel allows you to make changes to your home network, like adding security by changing your password. These important changes can help you get the most out of your home Wi-Fi network.

Cable modems and wireless routers have an operating system just like your computer does. To make changes to this system, you’ll need to access its user interface. This interface is known as the router admin panel, the router control panel, or the router admin console.

You can access your router’s admin panel directly via your home network. This enables you to control your router settings and troubleshoot any problems you might be experiencing with your connection.

Note: Because of the large variety of modems and routers on the market, the advice in this guide is generalized. We’d love to tell you exactly how to connect to your specific router, but with so many different models available, that is “unfortunately” impossible.

Part 1

Identifying the Router by IP Address

In order to open the console for your router, you need to know your router’s IP address.

An IP address—short for internet protocol address—is a series of numbers assigned to a device on your network. You can think of the IP address as your router’s telephone number. It takes the form of “123.456.789.123.”

Note: The IP address above uses the IPv4 format. The IPv6 format, which looks something like “2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334,” is currently in use on new equipment, but IPv4 is expected to persist for some time.

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Some IP addresses are static, which means they stay the same all the time. Other IP addresses are dynamic, which means the router assigns them a number. Dynamic addresses may change if another device is already connected to your router.

An IP address only exists on the network it is assigned from, and network devices also have a unique Media Access Control (MAC) address.  While an IP address is the identification number of a device on a network, a MAC address is the identification of the network itself. It functions kind of like a zip code. It helps internet servers sort which information needs to go to which networks.

To find the IP address of your router, you will need to open a command line on your computer.

  • On Windows, press WINDOWS+R. When the “Run” popup appears, type “cmd” in the box and press enter. This should give you access to a command prompt. (“Cmd” is short for command.) Once the command prompt appears, type “ipconfig.” The computer will display a list of network settings. In this listing, Default Gateway will be your router’s IP address.
  • In Mac OS X, open Apple > System Preferences > Internet & Wireless > Network, and with your network device selected on the left, set the “Configure IPv4” drop-down menu to read Using DHCP; the address for your router will be listed in the “Network” window.
  • Finally, in Linux, open the terminal and enter “$ route -n.” This command will display a list containing your local IP address and that of your gateway, which is the term given to your router.

Part 2

Opening Your Router or Modem Console
  1. Once you know your router’s IP address, you can easily access your router.
  2. Open your web browser and type your IP address into the address bar. It will look something like the following:

http://123.456.789.123

You should then see the console login screen. In most cases, you will have to log in using information provided to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You might also find the username and password printed on the router itself, although these will work only if the device has not had the defaults removed for security purposes.

Once you have signed into your modem or router, you will find various tools that can be used to troubleshoot speed and connectivity issues. For more on how to adjust the settings on your modem or router, see our step-by-step guide to improving your home network.