9 Essential Details You Must Know About Your Mac
Whether you’re troubleshooting your Mac or exploring new ways to use it, you’ll need certain key details about your device. If you know them beforehand or at least know where they’re located, you won’t have to scramble to find them at the last minute.
Now let’s see which device details everyone should know about, and how to find them where relevant.
1. The Serial Number and macOS Version
Your Mac’s serial number is its calling card. It encodes everything you need to know about the tech specs of your device.
You’ll find the serial number in quite a few locations. Want the easiest way to access it? Click on the About This Mac option hidden behind the Apple logo at the top left of your Mac’s menu bar. You’ll see the serial number listed in the Overview tab of the window that shows up.
In the same tab, you’ll find a few other bits of information, including the model name and its release date. At the top you’ll also see the macOS version that’s running on your device.
Click on the System Report button in the tab to access the System Information utility. This utility reveals every last detail about your Mac’s hardware and software, including its serial number.
You can also open the About This Mac and System Information utilities via Spotlight.
In case you have trouble starting up your Mac, look for the serial number in any of these places:
- On the bottom surface of your Mac
- The original box that the device came in
- On the receipt for the product
Your Apple account also stores your serial number. To retrieve the number from there, first access your Apple ID page at appleid.apple.com. Next, under the Devices section, click on the name of your Mac. You’ll then see a tiny popup with your Mac’s serial number (plus its model name and macOS version).
2. The Warranty Status
Once you know the serial number of your Mac, finding its warranty status is a couple of steps away. Visit Apple’s Check Coverage page and type the serial number in the field provided there.
The warranty details will show up after you hit the Continue button. They tell you what kind of tech support and service your Mac is eligible for. The details vary based on when the device warranty expires and whether you have bought AppleCare.
3. The Display Type: Retina or Non-Retina
If you have a MacBook Air or if your device comes with a DVD drive, you can move on to the next section; neither model has a Retina display.
Still here? Head to the About This Mac pane where you located your Mac’s serial number. If your Mac has a retina display, the model name will say so. Switch to the Displays tab and you’ll see the text Built-in Retina Display there.
Also, if you visit System Preferences > Displays, the window title reads Built-in Retina Display.
4. The Trackpad Type: Force Touch or Non-Force Touch
Some Apple technologies are available only in select MacBook models. Force Touch is a case in point. Does your device have it? If you have a 2015 or newer MacBook Pro or a MacBook with a Retina display, it sure does.
What does Force Touch do? It adds a pressure sensitivity factor to trackpad gestures. In simpler terms, when you press on the trackpad, it can distinguish that hard press from the usual tap gesture. And where does this feature come in handy? See for yourself with some useful Force Touch trackpad gestures.
If Force Touch is missing from your device and you want to use it, you can add it by connecting Apple’s own external trackpad, Magic Trackpad 2.
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5. The Number of Battery Cycles
Do you want to check how healthy your Mac’s battery is? Then you’ll need to know how many charge cycles it has been through. (Fewer charge cycles equals a healthier battery.) You’ll find this information in the Hardware > Power section of the System Information utility.
There you’ll also see information about the battery model itself, its charge capacity, and the active power settings for your Mac.
Of course, a third-party battery application delivers a lot of the same information and wraps it in a user-friendly and easy-to-read package. We think it’s a good idea to install such an app.
We recommend Battery Health, which sits in your Mac’s menu bar. Apart from battery stats, it gives you tips for making the best of your Mac’s battery life.
6. The MAC Address
Your Mac’s network adapter comes with a unique identification number called a Media Access Control address or MAC address. It’s not the same as your Mac’s IP address.
To find the MAC address, head to System Preferences > Network. Select your network in the sidebar and click on the Advanced button in the right-hand pane. In the dialog box that shows up, you’ll find the MAC address listed at the bottom of the Wi-Fi tab as Wi-Fi Address.
For quicker access to the MAC address, hold down the Option key and click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. You’ll then see the MAC address listed in the advanced menu that shows up.
You might want to learn how to spoof your MAC address for privacy reasons. Keep in mind that it resets itself to the original one when you restart your Mac.
7. The Location of Saved Wi-Fi Passwords
A Wi-Fi password is a set-it-and-forget-it affair until you need it to connect another device to the same network. As long as you know where to find the saved password, you’re good.
On your Mac you’ll find the Wi-Fi passwords in the Keychain Access application hidden under Applications > Utilities.
In the app’s sidebar, switch to the System keychain and the Passwords category. This filter displays only your stored passwords, which means that you have fewer items to search through.
Double-click on the name of the relevant Wi-Fi network from the items listed in the main panel. In the tiny window that shows up, select the checkbox for Show Password.
To get past the authentication prompt, enter an administrator’s credentials and click on the Allow button. You should now see the Wi-Fi password right next to the Show Password checkbox.
8. Internal IP Address
Your Mac has a private IP address to identify it on your local network. This is different from your router’s public IP address and from your Mac’s MAC address. To make sense of all three identifiers and what to do with them, read our guide to home networking.
You’ll find the private IP address in more than one location. Option-click on the Wi-Fi menu bar icon and you’ll see it listed below the name of the network you’re connected to.
If you open System Preferences > Network, you can spot the IP address in the right-side pane for the current network. Click on the Advanced button in that pane and switch to the TCP/IP tab of the dialog box that appears. The IP address is available there as well.
You can also find the private IP address via the Terminal application with this bit of code:
ifconfig | grep "inet " | grep -v 127.0.0.1
For your public IP address, it’s best to ask your search engine for it. The address shows up as the top result if you search for what is my ip.
9. The Encryption Status
If you aren’t sure whether your Mac’s hard drive has been encrypted with FileVault, it’s easy to find out.
Open System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault and you’ll see a message telling you the encryption status of your Mac. According to Apple, it’s one of those common details that come in handy when you’re consulting an Apple Genius or Advisor.
Get to Know Your Mac Better
As you’ll see in big ways and small, learning more about the specifics of your Mac definitely paves the way for a faster workflow and an smoother Mac experience.
If you know where macOS saves photos, books, and other files, you’ll find it easier to recover lost data. If a tech support person asks you for your Mac’s serial number, you can find it in a flash. And that’s just scratching the surface of why these details are crucial to know!