Is it possible to bring up a list of all the MAC Addresses of devices previously plugged into a computer, such as phones and mobile hotspots? I don't need any other information, just the MACs to match-up to a list of known devices.

The computer in question is running Windows 7 Enterprise x64. I have the ability to boot from a Linux Live CD if that's the way to go about getting it. I just don't have much experience with Linux and am hitting the proverbial "writers block" of the tech world.

EDIT I'm going back to the drawing board for how we track devices that get plugged into a machine, as it seems the MAC wasn't logged.

  • Why was this question downvoted? – MariusMatutiae Nov 9 '15 at 18:06

If they're connected via USB then, no, MAC addresses aren't used for USB communication and the computer would have had no reason (and probably no ability) to query the MAC address of either the WiFi or Cellular radio of the device. If they're connected via the network then the computer would have had a record of the MAC address (assuming there was network traffic between the computer and device) stored in it's ARP table but those entries expire rather quickly once they're gone you can't get them back. In the end the answer is basically, no, you can't. Sorry.

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  • That definitely wasn't what I wanted to hear, obviously. I appreciate it though! Just shows me it's time to go back to square one and revamp our tracking process. – The_Foxx Nov 9 '15 at 16:13
  • @The_Foxx, you can usually get device IDs from inserted devices. Why not try that route? – Mark Buffalo Nov 9 '15 at 17:58
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    @MarkHulkalo That's true but it only works for USB ID's (not MAC addresses) and it only works for currently connected devices – David King Nov 9 '15 at 18:00
  • @DavidKing, true. I presumed he wanted to find a way of tracking things once they were connected. Previously-inserted devices are going to cause a problem unless he has a program running on the machines to create a list of them. – Mark Buffalo Nov 9 '15 at 18:02
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    @DavidKing: Start with this KB article: support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/241257 In addition to Device Manager, the information is in the registry. If you need a programmatic solution, I can point you in the right direction for that also, but it would be off topic here. – Ben Voigt Nov 9 '15 at 18:47

As David King says, if the devices are connected via USB, MAC will not be used, hence it won't be stored anywhere in the PC. However, each device will be provided with a device ID that is created each time a device is connected. This device ID is saved to the registry (Windows). There are certain settings that are also saved along with the device ID. For example, if a removable storage device is connected for the first time, a new device letter is assigned. Next time (or any number of times thereafter), if the same removable storage device is connected, the same drive letter is provided. This setting is present in along with the connected device ID, in the registry.

Additionally, note that this device ID for a particular device differs with PC, as it is generated by Windows and not by the device itself. Hence tracking with the device ID is not possible. Even in one PC, if the ID is deleted and the corresponding device is connected, a new ID is generated again, as if the device is connected for the first time in the PC.

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