Michael Horowitz

Find the IP address of your home router

September 09, 2013 1:45 PM EDT
My next blog is about configuring a home router, which requires logging on to it. This, in turn, requires knowing the IP address of the router. Non-techies, the target of the next topic, typically don't know anything about IP addresses, let alone the one assigned to their router. Since the next blog is fairly long, I decided to start with this cheat sheet for learning the IP address of a router.
 
All routers have a web-based interface and, thus, are configured with a web browser. While some routers can be accessed by name (they typically intercept DNS queries), they all can be accessed by their IP address. 
 
Full access to the router requires a userid and password, but to even get prompted for this, you need to know the IP address. 
 
An IP address is written as four numbers separated by periods. Typical home networks use IP addresses that start with 192.168. Often the router will have an IP address such as 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1. 
 
If your Internet Service Provider (ISP) installed your router, they know both its IP address and the userid/password for it. In my experience, the ISP never tells the customer any of this information up front.  I have never had to call an ISP for this, so I don't know how forthcoming they are. 
 
With a self-installed router, you can get the IP address (assuming it wasn't changed at installation) from the manufacturer's documentation. Sometimes it is on a label on the bottom of the router. 
 
Once a network has been set up, each computing device on the network knows the IP address of the router and will spill the beans if you know the secret handshake. Terminology can get in the way however.  
 
Apple devices refer to the router as "Router". Windows refers to it as the "Default Gateway", a term borrowed from TCP/IP. Chrome OS refers to the router as "Gateway". Android won't tell you the IP address of your router, forcing you to install an app. 
 
Windows users can start a command prompt and type in "ipconfig" to see the Default Gateway. The output will look like this on Windows 7
Windows IP Configuration
Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:
   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
   IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.5.29
   Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . : 192.168.5.1
The output of the command Windows XP is almost identical. On either system, if the computer is using Wi-Fi rather than Ethernet, look for "Wireless Network Connection" instead of "Local Area Connection".
 
The same ipconfig command works on the desktop side of Windows 8, which also identifies the router as "Default Gateway". A wireless connection on Windows 8 is called "Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi", while a wired connection is identified as "Ethernet adapter Ethernet".
 
On an iOS 6 device, go to settings, then Wi-Fi, then click on the arrow to the right of your network name. You will then see something like that shown below. The instructions for iOS version 5 are identical. 
 
 
On Mac OS X (tested with Snow Leopard) go to Network preferences, click on the Advanced button, then on the TCP/IP tab. As with iOS, the router is identified as "Router". 
 
Android 2.3 and 4.2 devices, do not report the router IP address as part of the Wi-Fi settings display. My favorite app for network information is Fing, which I wrote about last year. Fing is designed to take an inventory of the computing devices on your network. It refers to the router as "Gateway". 
 
On a Chromebook, enter "chrome://system" in the address bar and scroll down to network-status. Click on the gray Expand button. If the Chromebook is connected via Ethernet, look for the clump of data identified as "eth0". If you are connected wirelessly, look in the "wlan0" section. The router is identified as "Gateway".
 
So as not to have go through this again, I suggest writing the IP address of the router, along with the userid/password, on a piece of paper taped to the router face-down.