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How to find your Apple TV's MAC address
Apple TV is a really cool device that can bring your digital media right into your living room to share with the whole family. With this little appliance you can have your music, movies and photo libraries all available on your big screen TV and through your favourite audio system instead of having to gather everyone around your computer screen.
The Apple TV appliance is still a computing device though, and as such it is a 'client' on your home network, just like your desktop and laptop. So for that reason you need to be able to find the MAC address of its network adapter.
Later I'll explain two simple ways of finding out the MAC address of your Apple TV's wireless adapter, but first let's understand what a MAC address is, how they're used, and why you should care.
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Macs and MAC's
The term MAC stands for Media Access Control, and it's completely different from the more common meaning of pertaining to Macintosh computers. The MAC address is a numeric identifier that is unique for every network adapter, whether it's Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. A MAC address is made up of six hexadecimal numbers: for example the MAC address of my iMac's wireless adapter is 00:1e:c2:bd:51:f6 (although Mac OS X refers to it not as a MAC address but as the Airport ID -- same thing). These numbers are hard-coded when the adapter is manufactured, and once set they can't be changed. The useful thing about MAC addresses is that they're all unique, so your adapter's address can always be used to identify it.
So why would you want to? Identify it, that is? Well, there are several possible reasons but one of the most common is where you want to tighten up on your home wireless network's security by limiting access to only those devices you specify. This is sometimes called MAC address filtering and almost all wireless routers support it. Regular Wi-Fi security protocols like WPA2 are pretty good, but they're not infallible, so a quick and easy way to really lock your network down and be sure nobody is coming in uninvited is to make a list of the MAC addresses of all your computing devices, and then tell the router to grant wireless access only to those on the list.
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Two easy ways to find your Apple TV's MAC address
OK, so we know what MAC addresses are and we have a good reason for wanting to know them. How do you find out the MAC address of your Apple TV?
Here are two simple ways:
1. Read it from the Apple TV Settings
The first and easiest:
- Pick up your Apple TV Remote and go into Settings, General, Network.
- This screen will show your "Wireless ID:..." followed by your Apple TV's wireless MAC address.
- If you have an Ethernet cable plugged into your device instead, this settings screen will show that MAC address, and call it the Ethernet ID.
2. "Watch" your Apple TV join the network
- Turn off your Apple TV
- Go into the web admin interface for your router and find the "Wireless Clients List". The exact location in the menus will vary from model to model but all routers have this feature, so hunt around or consult your manual.
- Once you find it click the Refresh button, and you should see a list of MAC addresses which corresponds to all the computing devices currently connected to the network (your laptop, iPad etc.). Right now the list will NOT include the Apple TV because you refreshed it after turning the device off.
- Make a note of all the MAC addresses
- Turn your Apple TV back on and wait a couple of minutes
- Refresh the Wireless Clients List again and make a note of the new MAC address that was just added. That will be your Apple TV.