How to Trace an IP Address

Whenever you go online, your computer is assigned a unique IP address, as is every computer connected to the Internet. An IP address is needed to send and receive information, much like a street address is needed to receive regular mail. Tracing an IP address is not very hard to do, and we'll show you how.


Website IP Address

  1. 1
    Open a command console. On a Mac, it's called Terminal and it's in the Utilities folder. On a PC, click on Start, then Accessories, and then Command Prompt. This will let us ping any website to find out the IP address of that website. Lookup | Free Site

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  2. 2
    Ping an address. This sends a signal out to a URL—like a sonar, hence the name—which then bounces back with the website information attached, and how long the round trip took.
    • Type "ping [URL]" - example: ping

  3. 3
    Press return. The IP address should appear beside the website name, followed by how many seconds or milliseconds the ping took.
    • The format of an IP address is numeric, written as four numbers separated by periods. For Facebook, the IP address is

Email IP Address

  1. 1
    Open your email client. To find the IP of an email sent to you, you can investigate the message's headers—that stuff that looks like a keyboard exploded on the message.

  2. 2
    Show headers. From the View menu, select the option that lets you view all or extended headers, and your To/From section will blossom with new information. From all that information, you only need a couple bits to search for.
    • Next to the Received section you will see something like "from..... and an IP address as described above. Select one of those, and copy it to the clipboard. In this case, we'll select, and copy it. We can see that it says Received from, so we'll do a test to see if that's accurate.

  3. 3
    Open a command console. This is described above. Only this time, instead of doing a ping on a known address, we're going to run a whois check.
    • In your terminal window, by the flashing cursor, type whois, and press Enter. The information will be sent out to a database, queried, and then returned with the registration information for that IP address.

    • In this case, we can verify that the message was sent through Facebook. Notice we also have their full address.
  4. 4
    Use an alternative lookup. You may not want to use the terminal, or perhaps it's not loaded on your computer. Instead, you can try using an internet lookup, such as ip-lookup, which gives you much the same information as a whois lookup, and in many cases, much more.

Geo-location of an IP Address

  1. 1
    Use the methods described above to obtain the IP number you wish to check.

  2. 2
    Go to a website that will allow you to look up IP address information. Google "IP Lookup" or "IP Geolcation" for a large list of sites that will freely offer this service.

  3. 3
    Understand what you can and cannot learn from the IP address:
    • Which internet service provider (ISP) the user is using. In some cases this may be the user's company (e.g. In other cases it may be just one of the large ISPs such as ATT or Comcast.
    • The approximate physical location of the user (e.g. Palo Alto, California.)
    • Recognize that usually you will not learn the actual name of the person doing at that IP address (e.g. Joe Smith). ISPs will typically only release such information under a court order.


  1. 1
    Open a command console as described above. On Windows, enter tracert . On UNIX (including Linux and Macintosh OS X), open a shell and use the command traceroute , and how long each step takes.



  • Flying lines and glowing hubs are only on TV. Real life is much more prosaic—and slow. Regardless, if you want to find out who is sending you things, this will take you a long way.

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EditThings You'll Need

  • A computer
  • An internet connection

EditRelated wikiHows

EditSources and Citations

  • Websites where you can investigate IP addresses:
    • Network Tools - Free tools, Traceroute, Ping, DNS, and information about your IP as well
    • - free tools and member-only tools - whois, ipwhois, dns health check, dnsreport, spam datatabase lookup

1 comment:

  1. Useful article. I use to find the geographical locations of an IP address from for free. It is very useful for me.