One of my internet service providers has a web page which will check how much bandwidth I’m using each month. I pay for 100-megabits but use far less than the maximum, though a check revealed tens of gigabytes more data usage than I expected. Alright, our household is packed with Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and various streaming services on each one, half a dozen app updates for each device each day, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that tens of gigabytes are flowing through the pipes.
But which devices are connected to the internet connection, and how much data is each one using?
As it turns out, the answer to the former is easier than the answer to the latter, but our building has a few dozen internet connected networks so I thought it worth a few minutes to explore. One of the best apps you can use to track those devices is called IP Scanner, which scans your network and identifies who or what is connected.
What you get is a lengthy list of every device (or, all the devices that allow themselves to be viewed) sortable by device name, IP address, MAC address, and so on, including when the device last appeared on the network.
Any of the sortable columns can be hidden, and if you have many, many items on the list you can adjust the font size, or reassign a different device icon to make it easier to view and remember which connected device is what.
Connected devices can also be whitelisted to make it easier to identify any new device that you don’t recognize. And, any device can be pinged or port scanned with a right-click. Device information always includes the current IP address and the MAC address, but may also include the assigned device name, and the device manufacturer (not always, as you’ll find out).
Preferences are straightforward but extensive. You’ll see options to displays devices in the Dock icon, list everything from MAC addresses to Manufacturer to DNS and even ‘last seen’ information.
There are options to customize icons for each device which makes visual tracking a bit easier. You can even separate non-local devices and get notification email when new items connect to the network.
Unfortunately, IP Scanner is just that. It’s not a router or firewall; it’s a scanner and cannot block devices from connecting to your network, hence the need for a strong password, but IP Scanner does give you quick right-click options to add devices to white or black list, or even open an app while tracking a particular connected device.