Your device’s IP address is a critical piece of information that you probably don’t think about very much. You’ll occasionally need it for a network-related setup (if you’re trying to punch a hole in your network to access the contents of your NAS box, run a web server, or connect to your home-grown VPN, to name a few examples), so it’s important to understand how to find it. Also, you have two different ones. Sort of.
In a typical home network — one where you’re accessing the internet from your cable modem, which is connected to your badass Wi-Fi router — you have both an external IP address and an internal IP address.
In simple terms, an external IP address allows devices around the internet to find you. It’s kind of like calling the company someone works for when you’re trying to reach them. The external IP address, in this case, would be the company’s phone number.
Your internal IP address is what your router dishes out to all the devices connected to it. It handles all the “routing,” hence the name, for data packets that travel in and out of your network. Think of this as the receptionist at said company who has to deal with all the incoming phone calls. They hear what you’re saying and forward you along to the specific person you’re trying to reach, and also keep that person protected — to stretch the metaphor — by not allowing random people to access to their direct phone number.
Got it? Sort of? Let’s continue.
How to find your external IP address
This one’s easy. Visit the ever-helpful website “WhatIsMyIP.com.” Right at the top of the page, you’ll see your external IPv6 and IPv4 addresses. You’ll probably only care about the latter for now, but you’ll (one day) use the former for all the networking things you do.
If you want to get even simpler, there’s also ipconfig.me. Click that, and all you’ll see is your IPv4 address. That’s it. Nothing else. For the simple IPv6 version of this site, check out the amazingly named icanhazip.com. It doesn’t get easier than that.
How to find your internal IP address
Getting your internal IP address is slightly more complicated than clicking on a hyperlink, but it’s not that tough.
Open up the Command Prompt via your Windows Start menu. Type in “ipconfig” and hit Enter. Look for the line that reads “IPv4 Address.” The number across from that text is your local IP address.
You could also get fancy and use a utility like BgInfo or a larger app like Rainmeter to display your IP address on your desktop at all times. It’s probably overkill unless you’re an IT specialist or network administrator, but it’s certainly an option.
First, click on the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your desktop and open System Preferences. Then, click on Network. Find your connection type — Wi-Fi or Ethernet — and click on it. (It should have a green dot if it’s active.)
Look to the right, and you’ll see a sentence that looks like “…is connected to ….. and has the IP address…” The number that follows is your laptop’s IP address.
If that’s too much work, you could always use the cleverly named utility “IP in menubar” to do just that — drop your IP address directly in your macOS menu bar. Again, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
I have a Google Pixel 3 XL, so I’ll describe the instructions to find an IP address on that. Your Android device will be similar, but these instructions might not exactly match depending on what you’re using.
Tap on the Settings app and tap on “Network & internet.” Tap on Wi-Fi, which I’m assuming you’re using, since who connects their smartphone with Ethernet? Tap on the gear icon to the right of the wireless network you’re connected to, and then tap on Advanced toward the bottom of the next screen. Scroll down a bit, and you’ll see your device’s IPv4 address.
Tap on your Settings app, and then tap on “Wi-Fi.” Tap on the “i” with a circle in it to the right of whatever network you’re connected to, and you’ll see your IPv4 address right there — and your IPv6 address right below it.
All of your other devices
When in doubt, your device’s IP address is probably listed somewhere in its network configuration options with its settings menu — whether we’re talking about your smart TV, your network-attached storage box, your gaming console, or what have you. If you’re having trouble finding the IP address that way, you can always take the reverse approach, and work via your router. Somewhere in your router’s settings will be a list of all the device that are connected to it. Assuming you can find your device’s name — or you know its MAC address — you should be able to look up its internal IP address.
This story was originally published on 2011 by Adam Dachis. It was updated by David Murphy in May 2019 with new information and techniques, and again on October 21, 2020 to update outdated links and align the content with current Lifehacker style.