Knowing how to track an IP address is an excellent way to find someone’s location and ultimately – identity – through the internet. That is precisely why learning how to find and track an IP address, as well as stop others from seeing yours, is an integral part of protecting your online privacy and security.
Companies are constantly gathering information about your online activities in order to advertise more efficiently, while governments collect information about everyone under the excuse of maintaining national security.
One of the best ways to protect yourself online lies exactly in understanding how to hide your own and track other people’s IP addresses.
How to find someone’s IP address on Facebook
Finding someone’s IP address on Facebook is easy and it all starts with you using the Facebook chat or Facebook Messenger app.
- You will first need to establish a connection with the user. As this requires an open connection, the built-in Facebook messenger system is your best bet.
- When you open a new chat window with the user and make sure they are online, keep the window open and then proceed to open the Utility Tool on Mac or Command Prompt on Windows. Next, type in ‘netstat -an’ and press Enter.
- Provided that there is an active connection with the user, their IP address should appear after a short period of time. However, before you execute this command, make sure that you have closed any other browser sessions and windows, as the function can return other active IP addresses and thus hinder your efforts.
Keep in mind that you can also find an IP address from Instagram, albeit in a slightly different way.
How to find the IP address of an email sender
Whenever you receive an email, you actually receive more than just the message. The email comes with headers that contain important data about the sender and where the email was sent from.
However, note that this won’t work if the sender uses an anonymous proxy server or if you receive an email sent from a Gmail account through a web browser, as Google hides the real IP address of the sender.
On the other hand, if someone sends you an email from their Gmail account through Outlook, Thunderbird, or Apple Mail, you will be able to discover the sender’s IP address.
For finding IP addresses in Gmail, open the email message, click on the inverted triangle next to the Reply button, and select Show Original. This will display the email header.
Now look for Received: from, which will be followed by the IP address between the square brackets . If there are more than one Received patterns, choose only the last one, as that will be the actual address of the sender.
Once you know the IP address, you can track it easily and you will learn how later in the article.
After you have logged into your Windows Live or Hotmail account, go to your Inbox, and search for the email you want to track. Once you right-click on it, you will see a drop-down menu, where the last option will be View message source. Select it to see the email header.
From there, you have a few available options:
- In case you find a header with X-Originating-IP followed by the IP address, that is the sender’s IP
- If that doesn’t work, look for Received: from followed by an IP address
- If you find multiple Received: from headers, eliminate the ones with proxy.com
Last but not least, searching for an IP address in Yahoo! Mail begins with clicking on the received email message. Next, select the View Full Header option and look for Received: from followed by the IP address between the square brackets .
That will most likely be the IP address of the sender. If there is more than one series of Received: from, choose only the IP address from the last pattern.
On the other hand, if there are no such patterns, select the first IP address in X-Originating-IP and track it.
How to find a website’s IP address
Sometimes, you may not want to track a person spamming or bothering you but instead you need to find a specific website’s IP address.
Finding a website’s IP address isn’t complicated at all and can be done both on Mac and Windows by using your computer’s built-in traceroute function.
To start, open the Start menu and type ‘command prompt’. Then, open the Command Prompt, enter ‘tracert’, press space, and type in your website’s address without the ‘www’. For example, to find Google’s IP address, you would type ‘tracert google.com’ into the Command Prompt.
The IP address will appear in brackets next to the ‘Tracing route to [website]’ line of text.
Pro tip: Make sure that you type in the correct extension for the website (.com, .org, .net, and so on). And don’t forget to press Enter in order to execute the command.
Mac users will first need to open Spotlight. To do this, click on the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Next, open Network Utility by double-clicking on it.
From here, follow the next steps:
- Click on the Traceroute tab at the top of the Network Utility window.
- Enter the website’s address in the text box near the top of the window. For instance, finding Facebook’s IP address would include typing in ‘facebook.com’ in the text box. Again, no need for typing ‘https://’ or ‘www’.
- Click on Trace – a blue button on the right side of the page.
The website’s IP address will show next to the ‘traceroute to [website]’ line of text.
How to track an IP address
Since now you have the exact IP address of a person or website, it is time to trace it and find out its approximate location. There are numerous tools you can use for this, such as the following:
- com – a clearly laid out and easy-to-use website with details about the town or city where the IP address is (not the ISP’s location). You will also be able to view a Mapquest map along with the location’s coordinates and host, ISP, and organization details.
- Ip-tracker.org – another website that can find the location of an IP address. In addition, it gives you the longitude and latitude as well as a Google map of the location. You just need to click the link under the map for a full satellite map layout.
- com – on this website, unregistered users can make a maximum of 20 free queries daily, while the number goes up to 200 for those who sign up for a free account. Although the data isn’t fully comprehensive, you will be able to determine all the basics such as the service provider, country, network speed, carrier codes, and potentially the area.
How to stop someone from tracking your IP address
Now that you know how easy it is to track someone’s IP address, it is only logical to be worried about someone else tracking yours.
Luckily, stopping someone from tracking your IP address is actually quite simple – if you know which tools to use and how to use them.
Moreover, hiding your IP address will let you access geo-blocked websites, circumvent IP bans, and generally stay anonymous online.
Connect to a VPN
Most likely the best and most convenient way for hiding or changing your IP address is to opt for a reliable VPN service. Besides this, a VPN can encrypt your internet traffic and allow you to safely exchange data with other users.
A VPN works by assigning a new IP address to users and preventing third parties from monitoring the user’s online activity. When you connect to a virtual private network, you will be assigned a new IP address that hides your real one.
While your real IP address is still used for connecting to a VPN, all other traffic will be tunneled through your VPN and thus connect only to your second, virtual IP address.
Make use of a proxy server
A proxy server is an excellent tool that acts as a bridge in your web traffic. It connects you to a server located in another location and hides your real IP.
However, even though proxies can come in handy when it comes to IP restrictions or bypassing geo-blocked content, they are not as effective a solution as a VPN. Proxies simply can’t compete with VPNs because they lack the many layers of protection that a VPN uses, as they neither encrypt your data nor remove any identifiable markers from it.