I was recently reminded that Windows 8 is missing the Network
Map feature that was introduced in Windows Vista and included in Windows 7.
When I first discovered that the Network Map feature wasn’t included in Windows
8, I developed an alternative technique that I have been happily using ever
since. The other day I happened to field a question for a reader that reminded
me of the missing Network Map feature and made me realize that I should write
an article about the technique that I have been taking for granted all this
The Network Map
The Network Map feature’s visual representation of the network
was its most recognizable characteristic. However, there were other more
substantial benefits just under the surface. Of course, what I am referring to
is that when you hovered your mouse pointer over any computer or network device
shown in the map, you could instantly see the MAC and IP addresses assigned to
that item. Being able to easily obtain this information for all the computers
on a network can come in very handy in any number of troubleshooting
When I first discovered that the Network Map feature was no
longer a part of the operating system, I immediately went to the Network
section of File Explorer hoping that Microsoft might have added a similar hover
feature to the computer or network device icons that appear there. However, I
quickly discovered that was not the case. Then, I stumbled onto the fact that
when you switch the View setting of the Network from its default Tiles view to the
Details view, you can add more column headings to the display. And, I found
that MAC Address and IP Address were among the available column headings.
I also recently discovered a neat little Windows 8 app in
the Windows Store called Lanscan that will scan you network and display the IP
addresses assigned to every device on your network. While it doesn’t show MAC
addresses, it is still a very handy tool.
In this article, I’ll show you how to take advantage of the
Details view in the Network section of File Explorer. I’ll also introduce you
to the Lanscan app and show you how it works.
In Windows 7
Even though the focus of this article is on Windows 8 and the
Network Map feature that is not available in this operating system version, it
is worth taking a look at how it functions in Windows 7 for the sake of
When you access the Network and Sharing Center in Windows 7,
you see a small basic map, or diagram, of your system on the network. Adjacent
to that basic map you’ll find a link titled See full map, as shown in Figure A.
The Network and Sharing Center shows a basic map and
provides you access to the full Network Map.
When you click See full map, you’ll find a more detailed
screen that shows how all the devices on your network are connected, as shown
in Figure B. You can also hover your
mouse pointer over any icon and find out the MAC and IP addresses assigned to
The Network Map feature does a reasonable job of creating a
visual representation of your network.
To create this map, the Network Map feature uses a special
network protocol called Link-Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) that essentially queries
every device on the network in order to determine how the network is organized.
More specifically the LLTD protocol relies on two components in order to do the
To begin with, each device on the network uses the LLTD
Responder component which allows it to be discovered by another computer
running the Network Map feature. The computer on which you run the Network Map
feature uses the LLTD Mapper I/O component to seek out and discover devices on
your network and to create a diagram that shows how the devices on your network
are connected. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect system and not all devices are
recognized. Those that aren’t recognized get clumped together down at the
bottom of the screen with this caption: The
following discovered device(s) cannot be placed in the map. Click here to see
all other devices.
Network and Sharing Center Windows 8
Now that you know how the Network Map feature worked in
Windows 7, let’s take a brief look at Windows 8’s Network and Sharing Center
for comparison. As you can see in Figure
C, Windows 8 doesn’t even include a basic map of your system on the network
nor is there a See full map link. There’s not even an icon next to the network
Windows 8’s Network and Sharing Center doesn’t even include
a basic map of your system on the network.
However, if you check out the Ethernet Properties as shown
in Figure D, you’ll find that the
entire Link-Layer Topology Discovery protocol is present and functioning in
Windows 8. Since the LLTD is functioning, we know that the network information
it contains is available.
The entire Link-Layer Topology Discovery protocol is present
in Windows 8.
The Network Explorer
Let’s now take a look at the Network section of File
Explorer. As you can see in Figure E,
the default List view shows just the name of the device and the context menu is
devoid of a Properties command. As such, on the surface it appears as though
the Network won’t be of much assistance.
In the default List view, only the device name is available.
However, if you change the View to Details and then access
the Choose Details dialog box from the Current view tab, you can add more
network based information to the display. As you can see in Figure F, I have selected the IP
Address and MAC Address check boxes.
The Choose Details dialog box will allow you to select
network specific details including the IP Address and the MAC Address.
After clicking OK, you’ll see the IP Address and MAC Address
for each device on your network, as shown in Figure G. Keep in mind that that you may see IPv6 addresses for
some or all of your devices, but if you click the Refresh button, you will eventually
see the IPv4 addresses.
Using the Details view, you can see the IP Address and MAC
Address for each device on your network.
As you can see, there are two special cases in my example.
The first one is that the computer named Asteroid is running Windows XP, which
by default doesn’t have the Link-Layer Topology Discovery protocol. (Note that
you can download
and install a version of the LLTD protocol for Windows XP.) The second
special case is the computer on which you are working, which instead of its
actual IP address, will show the Localhost IP Address.
The Lanscan app
As I mentioned, in addition to using the modified Network
section of File Explorer to seek out IP addresses, I recently discovered a Free
app on the Windows Store called Lanscan.
Once you have installed Lanscan, you can launch it, specify start and end
addresses, and click the Scan button. When you do, Lanscan will traverse your
network and create a list showing every device’s name, IP address, and port
number, as shown in Figure H.
The Lanscan app builds a detailed list of all the devices on
If you don’t wish to see all of the IP ports, you can go to
the Services screen and select just those that you want to see.
What’s your take?
Have you missed not having the Network Map feature in
Windows 8? What do you think of the Network Details View technique? Have you
used the Lanscan app? As always, if you have comments or information to share
about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community
Forums and let us hear from you.