In Ubuntu, with command ifconfig -a, I obtain all the information about my ethernet/wifi interfaces.

But I need to obtain as output only the MAC address, like:


How can I obtain this?


The easiest way would be to use grep with PCRE:

$ ifconfig -a | grep -Po 'HWaddr \K.*$'
  • grep -P will enable us to use perl compatible Regex

  • grep -o will only take the matched portion of the line

  • We have matched HWaddr before our desired match (MAC addresses) and then discard HWaddr by \K to print only the MAC addresses.

@Helio has mentioned an important point, this is highly dependent on your language i.e. locale settings. To overcome that you can use the C locale (uses ASCII character set) for this command only:

$ LANG=C ifconfig -a | grep -Po 'HWaddr \K.*$'
  • 2
    You may use LANG=C ifconfig -a instead of ifconfig -a for non-english installations, can be problems with grep. (i.e. In my system, HWaddr is direcciónHW) – 0x2b3bfa0 May 26 '15 at 11:32
  • @Helio what if you type: ifconfig -a | grep -i hw-*? – JoKeR May 26 '15 at 15:06
  • 1
    @JoKeR just curious - is that -* supposed to mean something? – muru May 26 '15 at 15:29
  • 2
    I have no HWaddr in my ifconfig output! – Owl Jun 21 '19 at 9:58
  • 1
    On ubuntu 20.04, I found that HWaddr was swapped out with "ether" So I had to do ifconfig -a | grep -o 'ether [[:xdigit:]:]*' instead. – General Redneck Jun 4 '20 at 18:25

You can access the address file for each device on the /sys virtual filesystem. The MAC address should be in /sys/class/net/<device-name>/address:

$ cat /sys/class/net/enp1s0/address

For all devices:

$ cat /sys/class/net/*/address
  • 17
    +1 for not using a tool that's been deprecated for a decade :) – hobbs May 26 '15 at 21:06
  • @hobbs Wait, which tool is that? – detly May 26 '15 at 22:33
  • @detly ifconfig – hobbs May 26 '15 at 22:33
  • 3
    @hobbs Woah. I was not aware of that. It does not print the deprecation warning on my machine. – detly May 26 '15 at 22:35
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    @detly ifconfig's been deprecated for years now, and ip has also been around for years. – muru May 27 '15 at 2:43

Here are a few ways:

  1. grep. There are various regular expressions that will pick these up. Here, I am looking for 5 repetitions of 2 letters or numbers followed by a colon, then any two characters. The -i makes the match case insensitive and the -o makes grep print only the matched portion. -E enables extended regular expressions. The same regex also works with PCREs (-P).

    ifconfig -a | grep -ioE '([a-z0-9]{2}:){5}..'
  2. sed. The -n suppresses normal output and the -r enables extended regular expressions. Using the same regex as above, this script will attempt to replace everything on the line with the part of it that matches the regex. If the substitution was successful, the resulting line is printed (because of the p at the end of the substitution).

    ifconfig -a | sed -rn 's/.*(([a-z0-9]{2}:){5}..).*/\1/p'
  3. awk. If the line starts with a word character ([a-zA-Z0-9_]), and has 5 fields, print the last one.

    ifconfig -a | awk '/^\w/&&NF==5{print $NF}'
  4. Perl, where, as usual, there are more than one ways to do it. This one is the same logic as the awk above. The -a tells perl to split each input line into the @F array.

    ifconfig -a | perl -lane 'if(/^\w/&&$#F==4){print $F[$#F]}'

    Alternatively, you can use the regex from the previous approaches:

    ifconfig -a | perl -lne '/(([a-z0-9]{2}:){5}..)/ && print $1'
  5. Coreutils.

    LANG_ALL=C ifconfig -a | grep 'HWadd' | tr -s ' ' '\t' | cut -f 5

As some have commented, ifconfig is deprecated in favor of the ip command. So combining the various solutions and comments, I'd use:

$ LANG=C ip link show | awk '/link\/ether/ {print $2}'

ifconfig -a | grep HWaddr | awk '{print $5}'

If your system output is non-English in this command, then it makes sense to run it this way.

LANG=C ifconfig -a | grep HWaddr | awk '{print $5}'

This is applicable to all solutions.

  • 5
    Instead of using grep separately you could filter with awk directly like this: ifconfig -a | awk '/HWaddr/ { print $5 }' – krt May 26 '15 at 11:21
  • Yes, there are really lots of ways to get this done. – Pilot6 May 26 '15 at 11:27
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    You may use LANG=C ifconfig -a instead of ifconfig -a for non-english installations, can be problems with grep. (i.e. In my system, HWaddr is direcciónHW) – 0x2b3bfa0 May 26 '15 at 11:31
  • Good notice. But in my Russian installation it is still HWaddr. – Pilot6 May 26 '15 at 11:33
  • Your Russian installation may be, but my Spanish installation doesn't. ;-) It can be a huge problem. Please, put @Helio at the begin of the comment. If not, I won't be notified. – 0x2b3bfa0 May 26 '15 at 11:36

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