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Get MAC addresses of remote hosts and local interfaces

Project description

Latest version on PyPI Coverage Status Travis CI build status Appveyor build status PyPI download PyPI downloads of the old name Code style: black

Pure-Python package to get the MAC address of network interfaces and hosts on the local network.

It provides a platform-independent interface to get the MAC addresses of:

  • System network interfaces (by interface name)
  • Remote hosts on the local network (by IPv4/IPv6 address or hostname)

It provides one function: get_mac_address()



Should you use this package?

If you only need the addresses of network interfaces, have a limited set of platforms to support, and are able to handle C-extension modules, then you should instead check out the excellent netifaces package by Alastair Houghton. It is significantly faster, well-maintained, and has been around much longer than this has. Another great option that fits these requirements is the well-known and battle-hardened psutil package by Giampaolo Rodola.

If the only system you need to run on is Linux, you can run as root, and C-extensions modules are fine, then you should instead check out the arpreq package by Sebastian Schrader. It can be significantly faster, especially in the case of hosts that don't exist (at least currently).

If you want to use psutil, scapy, or netifaces, I have examples of how to do so in a GitHub Gist.


Stable release from PyPI

pip install getmac

Latest development version

pip install

Python examples

from getmac import get_mac_address
eth_mac = get_mac_address(interface="eth0")
win_mac = get_mac_address(interface="Ethernet 3")
ip_mac = get_mac_address(ip="")
ip6_mac = get_mac_address(ip6="::1")
host_mac = get_mac_address(hostname="localhost")
updated_mac = get_mac_address(ip="", network_request=True)

# Changing the port used for updating ARP table (UDP packet)
from getmac import getmac
getmac.PORT = 44444  # Default: 55555
print(getmac.get_mac_address(ip="", network_request=True))

# Enabling debugging
from getmac import getmac
getmac.DEBUG = 2  # DEBUG level 2
print(getmac.get_mac_address(interface="Ethernet 3"))

Terminal examples

Python 2 users: use getmac2 or python -m getmac instead of getmac.

getmac --help
getmac --version

# Invoking with no arguments will return MAC of the default interface

# Usage as a module
python3 -m getmac

# Interface names, IPv4/IPv6 addresses, or Hostnames can be specified
getmac --interface ens33
getmac --ip
getmac --ip6 ::1
getmac --hostname home.router

# Running as a Python module with shorthands for the arguments
python -m getmac -i 'Ethernet 4'
python -m getmac -4
python -m getmac -6 ::1
python -m getmac -n home.router

# Getting the MAC address of a remote host requires the ARP table to be populated.
# By default, getmac will populate the table by sending a UDP packet to a high port on the host (defaults to 55555).
# This can be disabled with --no-network-request, as shown here:
getmac --no-network-request -4
python -m getmac --no-network-request -n home.router

# Enable output messages
getmac --verbose

# Debug levels can be specified with '-d'
getmac -v --debug
python -m getmac -v -d -i enp11s4
python -m getmac -v -dd -n home.router

Function: get_mac_address()

  • interface: Name of a network interface on the system
  • ip: IPv4 address of a remote host
  • ip6: IPv6 address of a remote host
  • hostname: Hostname of a remote host
  • network_request: If an network request should be made to update and populate the ARP/NDP table of remote hosts used to lookup MACs in most circumstances. Disable this if you want to just use what's already in the table, or if you have requirements to prevent network traffic. The network request is a empty UDP packet sent to a high port, 55555 by default. This can be changed by setting getmac.PORT to the desired integer value. Additionally, on Windows, this will send a UDP packet to to attempt to determine the default interface.


  • logging.getLogger('getmac'): Runtime messages and errors are recorded to the getmac logger using the logging module. They can be configured by using logging.basicConfig() or adding handlers to the getmac logger.
  • getmac.getmac.DEBUG: integer value that controls debugging output. The higher the value, the more output you get.
  • getmac.getmac.PORT: UDP port used to populate the ARP/NDP table (see the documentation of the network_request argument in get_mac_address() for details)


  • Pure-Python (no compiled C-extensions required!)
  • Python 2.7 and 3.4+
  • Lightweight, with no dependencies and a small package size
  • Can be dropped into a project as a standalone .py file
  • Supports most interpreters: CPython, pypy, pypy3, IronPython 2.7, and Jython 2.7
  • Provides a simple command line tool (when installed as a package)
  • MIT licensed!

Legacy Python versions

If you are running a old Python (2.6/3.3 and older) or interpreter, then you can install an older version of getmac that supported that version. The wheels are available in the GitHub releases, or from PyPI with a current version of pip and some special arguments.

  • Python 2.5: get-mac 0.5.0
  • Python 2.6: getmac 0.6.0
  • Python 3.2: get-mac 0.3.0
  • Python 3.3: get-mac 0.3.0

NOTE: these versions do not have many of the performance improvements, platform support, and bug fixes that came with later releases. They generally work, just not as well. However, if you're using such an old Python, you probably don't care about all that :)


  • If none of the arguments are selected, the default network interface for the system will be used.
  • "Remote hosts" refer to hosts in your local layer 2 network, also commonly referred to as a "broadcast domain", "LAN", or "VLAN". As far as I know, there is not a reliable method to get a MAC address for a remote host external to the LAN. If you know any methods otherwise, please open a GitHub issue or shoot me an email, I'd love to be wrong about this.
  • The first four arguments are mutually exclusive. network_request does not have any functionality when the interface argument is specified, and can be safely set if using in a script.
  • The physical transport is assumed to be Ethernet (802.3). Others, such as Wi-Fi (802.11), are currently not tested or considered. I plan to address this in the future, and am definitely open to pull requests or issues related to this, including error reports.
  • Exceptions will be handled silently and returned as a None. If you run into problems, you can set DEBUG to true and get more information about what's happening. If you're still having issues, please create an issue on GitHub and include the output with DEBUG enabled.

Commands and techniques by platform

  • Windows
    • Commands: getmac.exe, ipconfig.exe, arp.exe, wmic.exe
    • Libraries: uuid, ctypes, socket
  • Linux/Unix
    • Commands: arp, ip, ifconfig, netstat, ip link, lanscan
    • Libraries: uuid, fcntl, socket
    • Files: /sys/class/net/{iface}/address, /proc/net/arp
    • Default interfaces: /proc/net/route, route, ip route list
  • Mac OSX (Darwin)
    • networksetup
    • Same commands as Linux
  • WSL
    • Windows commands are used for remote hosts
    • Unix commands are used for interfaces
  • OpenBSD
    • Commands: ifconfig, arp
    • Default interfaces: route
  • FreeBSD
    • Commands: ifconfig, arp
    • Default interfaces: netstat

Platforms currently supported

All or almost all features should work on "supported" platforms. While other versions of the same family or distro may work, they are untested and may have bugs or missing features.

  • Windows
    • Desktop: 7, 8, 8.1, 10
    • Server: TBD
    • Partially supported (untested): 2000, XP, Vista
  • Linux distros
    • CentOS/RHEL 6+ (Only with Python 2.7+)
    • Ubuntu 16.04+ (15.10 and older should work, but are untested)
    • Fedora (24+)
  • Mac OSX (Darwin)
    • The latest two versions probably (TBD)
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
  • FreeBSD (11+)
  • OpenBSD
  • Docker


Add -v /proc/1/net/arp:/host/arp -e ARP_PATH=/host/arp to access arp table of host inside container in bridge network mode.

docker build -f packaging/Dockerfile -t getmac .
docker run -it getmac:latest --help
docker run -it getmac:latest --version
docker run -it getmac:latest -n localhost
docker run --rm -it -v /proc/1/net/arp:/host/arp -e ARP_PATH=/host/arp getmac:latest -n


  • Depending on the platform, there could be a performance detriment, due to heavy usage of regular expressions.
  • Platform test coverage is imperfect. If you're having issues, then you might be using a platform I haven't been able to test. Keep calm, open a GitHub issue, and I'd be more than happy to help.

Known Issues

  • Linux, WSL: Getting the mac of a local interface IP does not currently work (getmac -4 will fail if is the IP address of a local interface). This issue may be present on other POSIX systems as well.
  • Hostnames for IPv6 devices are not yet supported.
  • Windows: the "default" (used when no arguments set or specified) of selecting the default route interface only works effectively if network_request is enabled. If not, Ethernet is used as the default.
  • IPv6 support is good but lags behind IPv4 in some places and isn't as well-tested across the supported platform set.

Background and history

The Python standard library has a robust set of networking functionality, such as urllib, ipaddress, ftplib, telnetlib, ssl, and more. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered there was not a way to get a seemingly simple piece of information: a MAC address. This package was born out of a need to get the MAC address of hosts on the network without needing admin permissions, and a cross-platform way get the addresses of local interfaces.

In Fall 2018 the package name changed to getmac from get-mac. This affected the package name, the CLI script, and some of the documentation. There were no changes to the core library code. While both package names will updated on PyPI, the use of getmac is preferred.


Contributors are more than welcome! See the contribution guide to get started, and checkout the todo list for a full list of tasks and bugs.

Before submitting a PR, please make sure you've completed the pull request checklist!

The Python Discord server is a good place to ask questions or discuss the project (Handle: @KnownError).


  • Christopher Goes (@ghostofgoes) - Author and maintainer
  • Calvin Tran (@cyberhobbes) - Windows interface detection improvements
  • Daniel Flanagan (@FlantasticDan) - Code cleanup
  • @emadmahdi - Android fixes
  • Izra Faturrahman (@Frizz925) - Unit tests using the platform samples
  • Jose Gonzalez (@Komish) - Docker container and Docker testing
  • @fortunate-man - Awesome usage videos
  • @martmists - legacy Python compatibility improvements
  • @hargoniX - scripts and specfiles for RPM packaging
  • Ville Skyttä (@scop) - arping lookup support
  • Tomasz Duda (@tomaszduda23) - support for docker in network bridge mode


Many of the methods used to acquire an address and the core logic framework are attributed to the CPython project's UUID implementation.

Other notable sources


MIT. Feel free to copy, modify, and use to your heart's content. Enjoy :)


NOTE: if any changes significantly impact your project or use case, please open an issue on GitHub or email me (see git commit author info for address).


  • TBD

0.8.3 (12/10/2021)

Announcement: Compatibility with Python versions older than 3.6 (2.7, 3.4, and 3.5) is deprecated and will be removed in getmac 1.0.0. If you are stuck on an unsupported Python, considor loosely pinning the version of this package in your dependency list, e.g. getmac<1.


  • Added support for Thomas Habets' version of arping in addition to the existing iputils one (contributed by Ville Skyttä (@scop) in #52 and #54)
  • Added support for docker in network bridge mode (contributed by Tomasz Duda (@tomaszduda23) in #57)
  • Add CHANGELOG URL to PyPI metadata (contributed by Ville Skyttä (@scop) in #58)
  • Fixed code quality test suite errors (includes changes by Daniel Flanagan (@FlantasticDan) in #67)
  • Improved Android support (contributed by @emadmahdi in #71)
  • Minor code quality fixes (2 years of neglecting master branch)
  • Add Code of Conduct for project contributors
  • Add for reporting security issues (e.g. vulnerabilities)
  • Deprecate Python 3.4 and 3.5
  • Issue deprecation message as a warning in addition to a log message

0.8.2 (12/07/2019)

Announcement: Python 2 compatibility will be dropped in getmac 1.0.0, which will be finished sometime in 2020. If you are stuck on Python 2, consider loosely pinning the version in your dependencies list, e.g. getmac<1. I will continue to fix reported bugs and accept patches for the last release before 1.0.0, however active development will cease and new features will not be backported.


  • Added warning about Python 2 compatibility being dropped in 1.0.0
  • Officially support Python 3.8
  • Documented a known issue with looking up IP of a local interface on Linux/WSL (See the "Known Issues" section in the README)
  • Added remote host lookup using arping as last resort


  • Standardized formatting on Black
  • Lint additions: vulture, several Flake8 plugins
  • Pinned test dependencies (pytest 5 dropped Python 2 support)
  • Various quality-of-life improvements for contributors/developers

0.8.1 (05/14/2019)


  • Fixed sockets being opened and not closed when ip or ip6 were used, which could lead to a ResourceWarning (GH-42)

0.8.0 (04/09/2019)


  • OpenBSD support
  • FreeBSD support
  • Python logging is now used instead of print (logger: getmac)
  • Include tests in the source distribution
  • (CLI) Added aliases for --no-network-requests: -N and --no-net
  • (CLI) New argument: -v/--verbose


  • Errors are now logged instead of raising a RuntimeWarning
  • Improved Ubuntu support
  • Performance improvements


  • Significant increase in overall test coverage
  • Fixed and migrated the sample tests to pytest
  • Added tests for the CLI

0.7.0 (01/27/2019)


  • Type annotations (PEP 484)


  • Dropped support for Python 2.6
  • Removed the usage of third-party packages (netifaces, psutil, scapy, and arpreq). This should improve the performance of lookups of non-existent interfaces or hosts, since this feature was punishing that path without providing much value. If you want to use these packages directly, I have a guide on how to do so on a GitHub Gist.


  • Significantly improved the performance of the common cases on Linux for interfaces and remote hosts
  • Improved POSIX interface performance. Commands specific to OSX will be run only on that platform, and vice-versa.
  • Significantly improved the speed and accuracy of determining the default interface on Linux
  • Python 2 will install an executor named getmac2 and Python 3 an executor named getmac so they do not conflict when both RPMs are installed on the same system (Credit: @hargoniX)
  • The warnings module will only be imported if a error/warning occurs (improve compatibility with some freezers, notably PyInstaller)
  • Improved system platform detection
  • Various other minor performance improvements


  • Added unit tests for the samples (Credit: @Frizz925)
  • Scripts for building RPMs in the /scripts directory (Credit: @hargoniX)
  • Improved code quality and health checks
  • Include the CHANGELOG on the PyPI project page
  • Using pytest for all tests now instead of unittest


  • Added instructions on how to build a Debian package (Credit: @kofrezo)

0.6.0 (10/06/2018)


  • Windows default interface detection if network_request is enabled (Credit: @cyberhobbes)
  • Docker container (Credit: @Komish)


  • Changed project name to getmac. This applies to the command line tool, GitHub, and the documentation.
  • Use proper Python 2-compatible print functions (Credit: @martmists)


  • Support for Python 2.5. It is not feasible to test, and potentially breaks some useful language features, such as __future__
  • Variables PORT and DEBUG from top-level package imports, since changing them would have no actual effect on execution. Instead, use getmac.getmac.DEBUG.


  • Added example videos demonstrating usage (Credit: @fortunate-man)
  • Added contribution guide
  • Added documentation on ReadTheDocs
  • Added a manpage

0.5.0 (09/24/2018)


  • Full support for Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This is working for all features, including default interface selection! The only edge case is lookup of remote host IP addresses that are actually local interfaces will not resolve to a MAC (which should be ff-ff-ff-ff-ff-ff).


  • Require argparse if Python version is 2.6 or older


  • Updated tox tests: added Jython and IronPython, removed 2.6

0.4.0 (09/21/2018)


  • New methods for remote host MACs
    • Windows: arp
    • POSIX: arpreq package
  • New methods for interface MACs
    • Windows: wmic nic
  • DEBUG levels: DEBUG value is now an integer, and increasing it will increase the amount and verbosity of output. On the CLI, it can be configured by increasing the amount of characters for the debug argument, e.g. '-dd' for DEBUG level 2.
  • Jython support (Note: on Windows Jython currently only works with interfaces)
  • IronPython support


  • Significant performance improvement for remote hosts. Previously, the average for get_mac_address(ip='') was 1.71 seconds. Now, the average is 12.7 miliseconds, with the special case of a unpopulated arp table being only slightly higher. This was brought about by changes in how the arp table is populated. The original method was to use the host's ping command to send an ICMP packet to the host. This took time, which heavily delayed the ability to actually get an address. The solution is to instead simply send a empty UDP packet to a high port. The port this packet is sent to can be configured using the module variable getmac.PORT.
  • "Fixed" resolution of localhost/ by hardcoding the response. This should resolve a lot of problematic edge cases. I'm ok with this for now since I don't know of a case when it isn't all zeroes.
  • Greatly increased the reliability of getting host and interface MACs on Windows
  • Improved debugging output
  • Tightened up the size of
  • Various minor stability and performance improvements
  • Add LICENSE to PyPI package


  • Support for Python 3.2 and 3.3. The total downloads from PyPI with those versions in August was ~53k and ~407K, respectfully. The majority of those are likely from automated testing (e.g. TravisCI) and not actual users. Therefore, I've decided to drop support to simplify development, especially since before 3.4 the 3.x series was still very much a "work in progress".


  • Added automated tests for Windows using Appveyor
  • Tox runner for tests
  • Added page
  • Improved TravisCI testing

0.3.0 (08/30/2018)


  • Attempt to use Python modules if they're installed. This is useful for larger projects that already have them installed as dependencies, as they provide a more reliable means of getting information.
    • psutil: Interface MACs on all platforms
    • scapy: Interface MACs and Remote MACs on all platforms
    • netifaces: Interface MACs on Non-Windows platforms
  • New methods for remote MACs
    • POSIX: ip neighbor show, Abuse of uuid._arp_getnode()
  • New methods for Interface MACs
    • POSIX: lanscan -ai (HP-UX)


  • Certain critical failures that should never happen will now warn instead of failing silently.
  • Added a sanity check to the ip6 argument (IPv6 addresses)
  • Improved performance in some areas
  • Improved debugging output


  • Major Bugfix: search of proc/net/arp would return shorter addresses in the same subnet if they came earlier in the sequence. Example: a search for on Linux would instead return the MAC address of with no errors or warning whatsoever.
  • Significantly improved default interface detection. Default interfaces are now properly detected on Linux and most other POSIX platforms with ip or route commands available, or the netifaces Python module.


  • Makefile
  • Vagrantfile to spin up testing VMs for various platforms using Vagrant
  • Added more samples of command output on platforms (Ubuntu 18.04 LTS)

0.2.4 (08/26/2018)


  • Fixed identification of remote host on OSX
  • Resolved hangs and noticeable lag that occurred when "network_request" was True (the default)

0.2.3 (08/07/2018)


  • Remote host for Python 3 on Windows



  • Short versions of CLI arguments (e.g. "-i" for "--interface")


  • Improved usage of "ping" across platforms and IP versions
  • Various minor tweaks for performance
  • Improved Windows detection


  • Use of ping command with hostname


  • Improvements to internal code


Nothing changed. PyPI just won't let me push changes without a new version.

0.2.0 (04/15/2018)


  • Checks for default interface on Linux systems
  • New methods of hunting for addresses on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux


  • CLI will output nothing if it failed, instead of "None"
  • CLI will return with 1 on failure, 0 on success
  • No CLI arguments now implies the default host network interface
  • Added an argumnent for debugging: --debug
  • Removed -d option from --no-network-requests


  • Interfaces on Windows and Linux (including Bash for Windows)
  • Many bugs


  • Support for Python 2.6 on the CLI


  • Overhaul of internals

0.1.0 (04/15/2018):


  • Addition of a terminal command: get-mac
  • Ability to run as a module from the command line: python -m getmac


  • arp_request argument was renamed to network_request
  • Updated docstring
  • Slight reduction in the size of


  • Overhauled the README
  • Moved tests into their own folder
  • Added Python 3.7 to list of supported snakes

0.0.4 (11/12/2017):

  • Python 2.6 compatibility

0.0.3 (11/11/2017):

  • Fixed some addresses returning without colons
  • Added more rigorous checks on addresses before returning them

0.0.2 (11/11/2017):

  • Remove print statements and other debugging output

0.0.1 (10/23/2017):

  • Initial pre-alpha

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