Is it called Mac or MAC? Explanation of both terms!

If you look around on blogs, forums and other websites on the subject of Apple and technology, you will occasionally stumble across the abbreviations Mac and MAC. While the former describes an Apple computer (“Mac” is short for Macintosh), the latter refers to a device’s OSI network address (“MAC” stands for Media Access Control). But since I often read about an Apple MAC, an IMAC or even a MACbook, I wanted to put some order into the terminology here. So you know what the two words mean and how to spell them.

Both Mac and MAC is the correct spelling - just for different things. Here you can find out what an Apple computer and what a network address means.
Both Mac and MAC is the correct spelling - just for different things. Here you can find out what an Apple computer and what a network address means.

The Apple computer: Mac is short for Macintosh

While Apple released the Apple I, the Apple II and the Apple Lisa in various versions from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, the Macintosh was also added to the range in January 1984. After the initial Macintosh 128K, several other versions and forms of this computer came out, such as the Macintosh Plus in 1986, the Macintosh SE/30 in 1989 or the Macintosh LC 580 in 1995. In addition, from 1992 to 1997 the "Macintosh Performa" - series and from 1994 to 1998 the "Power Macintosh" series.

The abbreviation “Mac” for Macintosh was long established back then. It is therefore not surprising that Steve Jobs took up this nickname after his return to Apple and associated it with the Internet capability of that computer, which was to re-establish Apple as a stable company in the market. This is how the iMac, which was introduced in 1998, came about. After the iMac came the eMac, the Power Mac, the Mac mini, the Mac Pro, the Mac Studio, and so on. The "Macintosh PowerBook" temporarily became the "iBook" and eventually the MacBook. In short: If we are talking about an Apple computer, this is written as Mac.

The network address: MAC in the OSI model

In a network, a device can have a so-called MAC address have. But that doesn't mean that the device has to be an Apple computer. Because the MAC written in capital letters does not stand for Macintosh, but for "Media Access Control" or "Media Access Code". MAC refers to device addressing in a network, so that requests and data packets are clearly assigned and only sent to the device intended for them. The MAC address is therefore part of the second layer in the OSI model (OSI = Open Systems Interconnection).

The OSI model is a reference model that divides communication in computer networks into seven layers. Each layer is responsible for specific functions and tasks and works together with the neighboring layers to ensure the smooth exchange of data between different systems. It is not the only one of these models, e.g. For example, there is also the TCP/IP model in the Internet protocol family. Here the system is not assigned a MAC address, but an IP address. So you can remember the capital letters for the notation of the OSI addressing of a network device: MAC.

Find out the MAC address of the Apple Mac

If you use your Mac e.g. B. integrated into a WLAN, then it has a MAC address in addition to the IP address. To find out what this is in the wireless network, you have to go through the system settings again. There you select the actively used WLAN and then look for the hardware information. Away macOS 13 Adventure and the design of the system settings that was introduced with it, it works like this:

  1. Click on the in the top left Apple logo () on the menu bar
  2. Choose from its menu System settings ... from
  3. In the left sidebar you now call the point WiFi on
  4. Click on the "Details..." button next to the network you are currently using
  5. Choose in the window on the left Hardware off, on the right you will find the MAC address

Alternatively, you can hold down the Option key (or Alt or Option) and click on the WLAN symbol in the menu bar. The connection name and address are then displayed under the WLAN switch. Address means the MAC address of your Apple computer. So if you don't want to go through the system settings, you can use this shortcut.

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2 comments on “Is it called Mac or MAC? Explanation of both terms!”

  1. Or the short version.
    Option-click the WiFi icon.
    All relevant parameters of the currently used WiFi appear.
    At the top of the 2nd line is your own MAC address.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.