Your IP address is probably something you rarely think about, but it’s your internet lifeline. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to receive emails, check today’s news or do a simple Google search.
So, what exactly is it? It’s like a return address for the internet. The “IP” part stands for “internet protocol.” The “address” part refers to a unique number that gets linked to all online activity you do.
An IP address is assigned to your computer or network by your internet service provider. Since they are the ones giving you access to the Internet, it’s their role to attach an address to your computer.
There are two kinds of IPs: public and private.
Your public one is what the rest of the internet sees and is the more commonly needed number. Your private address then identifies your computer or device on your local network.
Sometimes, you might need to know the private IP address of a device or your public IP address—or maybe both.
Find Your Public IP Address
- Do a Google Search for “What’s My IP Address” and Google will display it.
- You can also go to a site called “What’s My IP Address” to find it.
Private IP Address on Windows
- Click on the Start menu and type cmd. When you see the cmd applications in Start menu panel, click it.
- A command line window will open. Type ipconfig and press enter.
- You’ll see a bunch of information, but the line you want to look for is “IPv4 Address.” The number across from that text is your private IP.
Private IP Address on a Mac
- Open System Preferences (via the Apple menu at the top left-hand corner of your screen).
- When System Preferences opens, click on the icon labeled Network.
- You should see a few options on the left with labels like Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, etc. The ones with green dots have IP addresses assigned to them.
- Click the one that has green lights (like Ethernet) and look to the right. There should be a sentence that reads something like “Ethernet is currently active and has the IP address xx.x.xx.xxx.” The number at the end of that sentence is your private IP.
And there you go, that’s how you find both the private and public IP addresses.
On a side note, your IP can change. Unless you’ve purchased a static address from them, your internet service provider may occasionally assign you a new public IP address. It can change if you do something as simple as turn your modem or router on and off.