You can hide your MAC address by changing the address parameters, using MAC address spoofing software, or randomizing your MAC address whenever you connect to a network.
However, a VPN is not enough to change your device’s MAC address, even though it contributes to your online security.
Thus, network admins can still see your MAC address to identify your sessions even if you delete your cached content, remove device cookies, change your username/login, and get a new IP address.
In the rest of this guide, I’ll show you different ways to change your MAC address easily.
What Is the Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address?
The Media Access Control (MAC) address is a hardware-based address that identifies devices on a network. In contrast, the Internet Protocol (IP) address is a network-based address that does the same thing.
However, MAC addresses don’t identify other details, such as the location of the device, which IP addresses do. Even so, they’re usually more sensitive since a device can only be associated with a single MAC address but have multiple IP addresses.
That said, it’s easier to deanonymize users by tracking their internet activity over a network with their MAC address, rather than simply the IP address.
That’s because a network admin will always see the MAC address of units connecting to its network.
Fortunately, there’s a scenario where network admins or anyone else can have your MAC address but still be blind to whatever you’re doing online: using a VPN!
Due to the robust AES 256-bit encryption on VPNs like NordVPN, connecting to any of its 5500+ servers tunnels your internet traffic via secure data packets.
Thus, network admins will still see you’re connected to the network.
Still, they can’t deanonymize you, check what websites you’re accessing, or restrict your internet content access.
How Do I Hide the MAC Address on My Device?
Like IP addresses, your devices MUST present a MAC address when connecting to the internet.
Thus, changing your MAC address is the best way to hide it.
That way, the network admins can still see it but don’t see the correct value that can be used to deanonymize you.
Here are some of my favorite methods to hide your MAC address.
Method #1 – MAC Address Spoofing
Spoofing your MAC address ensures network admins see a different MAC address whenever you connect to their networks. So, they can’t pinpoint that your device has been on their network or associate any online activity with you since your device’s physical MAC address differs from what they see in the backend.
However, this method won’t work on internal networks (like school or work networks) that authorize users partly with their MAC addresses. You may lose internet connectivity on the chosen networks for spoofing your MAC address in these cases.
Still, I’ve found device-specific guides to help you get this done.
Remember to note your actual MAC address before starting these steps.
That way, you don’t have to reset your device to factory settings if anything goes wrong.
Instead, you only revert to your actual MAC address.
Method #2 – MAC Randomization
As the name implies, MAC randomization ensures your device automatically cycles through different MAC addresses, settling on one whenever you connect to a new network. Thus, you may connect to multiple networks in one day but show diverse MAC addresses.
The best part about MAC randomization is that it’s easier to implement than MAC spoofing techniques. In fact, device manufacturers have started building the functionality into their units to boost users’ internet security and privacy.
On iOS and MacOS, you’re automatically enabled for MAC randomization, especially if your device was made after 2015. The same applies to Android and Windows devices, but it’s not always automatically enabled.
So, I’ve included guides to help you check that you have the feature on.
Unlike before, you don’t have to note your original MAC address if anything goes wrong. That’s because things would rarely go wrong here since the randomization is built into the system by the OEM.
If you’re having network connectivity issues at school/work/home, turn off the MAC randomization to see if that works.
Method #3 – Use MAC Spoofing Software
Some software providers claim to spoof your device’s MAC addresses once enabled.
Like every other software of this kind, it’s best to do your research to know how these software work. Otherwise, they could access your system settings to enable MAC randomization and do other sinister stuff in the background.
Likewise, I don’t see a reason to pay for these kinds of software when most devices today offer automatic MAC randomization when enabled.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Tor Hide MAC Addresses?
Tor can’t hide your MAC address but will encrypt your internet connection over multiple proxy servers and provide a new IP address.
Thus, network admins may still see the MAC addresses of devices connecting to the Tor network but won’t be able to know what you’re doing on the dark web.
Even so, it’s best to combine MAC spoofing or automatic MAC randomization attempts with your Tor browser connection for ultimate privacy.
Is MAC Address Different for Ethernet and Wi-Fi?
The device’s MAC address stays constant, whether connected via ethernet cable or wireless media. However, if you have MAC randomization enabled, you can get different MAC addresses from the same device on either connection.
In this case, the device changes its MAC address in the time between disconnecting from Wi-Fi to connect to Ethernet, or vice versa.
Why Does the MAC Address of My Router Change When I Connect to VPN?
The MAC address of your router changes when you connect it to a VPN tunnel since you now route all your internet traffic via the VPN tunnel instead of the physical router’s pathway. Thus, you’ll see an arbitrary MAC address from the virtual router (usually 00:00:00:00:00:02) rather than the router’s MAC address.
Protect Your MAC Address Completely
Don’t let anyone trick you into believing a VPN alone is enough to change your MAC address. Once you determine that you need to change/hide your MAC address, the above methods work best.
However, VPNs also contribute to your online security by hiding/changing your IP address. Thus, network admins can’t see what you’re doing on the network, even if they could somehow always identify your MAC address.
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