I would like to know if it's possible to use Nmap in order to scan hosts according to their mac address.

Or if it's not possible to do it directly, is there an option (i didn't find) to select only hosts with a specific mac address?

  • What would you scan them for, their IP or routing information? Point is: There is not much to find scanning in usual networks, as services usually of interest are provided at a higher level of the ISO/OSI model.
    – Tobi Nary
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 10:27

4 Answers 4


Keep in mind that nmap is an IP based scanner. Based on the information that you have provided, I would suggest using nmap to perform a host discovery i.e. identifying active hosts in a network. This step will give you a list of active IP addresses.

You can use ARP to resolve the IP addresses (Obtained during host discovery) to MAC addresses (Assuming its all in the same local area network). Once you have identified the MAC addresses that you wish to scan, feed the corresponding IP addresses to nmap for scanning.

In short:

Host Discovery > IP to MAC conversion > Identify target IP addresses using MAC > Port scanning

Refer this for more information on using nmap.


This is a one-liner to find the IP of a Synology NAS by MAC address in the local network:

nmap -sP | grep -B 2 "00:11:32:XX:XX:XX" | head -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 5

grep, head and cut trim the text to get the desired IP.

  • Thank you for this. It saved my bacon. The differences between arp and nmap on Ubuntu are frustrating (nmap scan does not update arp tables and arp-scan does nothing at all). Using this snippet you can remove arp from the equation altogether. Commented Mar 22, 2021 at 23:19

With nmap, you do scan for services at the IP layer (3) of the ISO/OSI model. Mac addresses are layer 2.

This would not keep you from resolving mac addresses to IP addresses using

arp -na

and working your way from there, though.


no, NMAP is a OSI Layer 3 scanner and it needs IP address, see official docs

  • This is not entirely true for the local network - see -PR in the official docs: nmap.org/book/man-host-discovery.html What is true is that there is no interface to specify MAC addresses in the scan.
    – schroeder
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:40
  • @schroeder IMHO an unavailable feature does not counts, isn't it? Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:07

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