Checking your IP address: it’s an often-mentioned activity that still has the potential to confuse you with technical jargon. In this guide, we’ll walk you through finding the IP address of your current device, both on your local network, and on the wider Internet.
First, let’s talk about IPs themselves. Put simply, an IP address is a unique identifier assigned to your device by the network it’s connected to. Each time you connect a PC, phone or tablet to your Wi-Fi, your router will hand the device an IP address. This enables the device to receive traffic over the network and broadcast its presence to others – so you can stream media from a network drive to your phone, for instance.
The same model applies on the global internet. Your Wi-Fi router is given its own IP address by your internet service provider as part of a dynamic allocation process. This external IP is used for all traffic originating from your Wi-Fi – all your devices will display the same public IP.
Finding your public IP address
On to finding out what your IP address is. Getting your public IP is easy – head to a search engine, such as Bing, and type “what is my ip address.” Most popular search engines now include this feature, so you should see your IP displayed at the top of the page.
You might need to know your public IP address if you’re hosting an internet server at home. If you’re running a multiplayer game lobby, for example, you’ll need to share your public IP with other players so they can find your server and connect.
Finding local network IP addresses for your devices
To find the local network IP address of a Windows 10 device, it’s often simplest to use the Command Prompt. Type “cmd” into the Start menu and press enter. In the terminal window that appears, type “ipconfig” and press enter.
This output may look complicated, but you don’t need to worry too much about it. The important line is “IPv4 Address,” which shows the IP your device has been assigned by your router. You may also want to take note of the “Default Gateway,” which is usually the address of the router itself.
It’s worth noting that the output of “ipconfig” might display several listings, instead of the single one shown in our screenshot. A new section is displayed for each network connection on your device – if you have both Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet, two adapters will be displayed. Just look for the one you’re using; inactive adapters will display “Media disconnected.”
This IP address is how your device presents itself to others within your home. Returning to the previous analogy, if you’re hosting a family game server you may need to share your local IP address with family members so they are able to connect.
Finally, it’s worth noting that most wireless routers allow you to view a complete list of all connected devices. This will give you a quick reference for all assigned IP addresses. In addition, routers should usually display their own external IP address on the wider Internet – this might be labelled “WAN Address” or something similar.
The steps to access your router’s control panel vary by brand and specific model, but generally you can find them by visiting the router’s IP address in a web browser. As we noted earlier, the router’s IP is usually the “Default Gateway” shown in Windows’ “ipconfig” output, so in this example we’d expect to find the router’s control panel at “http://192.168.0.254”.