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Machine names

On Tailscale, machines are distinguishable by a 100.x.y.z IP address, and by a machine name.

The machine name, shown throughout the admin panel and the native Tailscale apps, is the canonical name for your machine on your Tailscale network. If you use Magic DNS, the machine name also determines the URL your machine is accessible at.

How machine names are determined

When a new machine is added to a Tailscale network, we automatically generate its machine name from its OS hostname. The OS hostname is the machine’s operating system name for the device. This field gets reported to Tailscale on startup.

Often, the name ends up being exactly the hostname. But sometimes if a device already on the network has the same name, the new machine will get a name like <hostname>-1. If the conflicting machine’s name is later changed, this machine will still maintain the <hostname>-1 machine name.

OS hostnames can also have characters that we don’t allow in machine names, so we derive the names following a number of rules that aim to produce sensible results.

For example:

OS Hostname Machine Name
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John's-iPhone-6S.local johns-iphone-6s
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As corner cases in these rules are found, they will change, so they are not listed here. We enforce unique machine names across a Tailscale network so they may be used as part of the Magic DNS domain name for a machine.

Renaming a machine

Sometimes the default machine name for a device can be pretty messy and unintuitive, such as laptop-a4og4947. Because of this, we’ve added the ability to edit the machine name for a device from the admin panel.

To edit a machine’s name, either from the machine details page or the “Machines” tab, click on the ellipsis icon icon to the left of the page and select “Edit machine name…” This will open up the machine name editor.

Machine name editing view
When the “Auto-generate from OS hostname” box is checked, as it is by default, the machine name is generated from the OS hostname as described above. If the OS updates the hostname, the machine name will also get updated the next time Tailscale is started up. To avoid these automatic name changes, uncheck this box.
Machine name editing view
If Magic DNS is enabled for your network, editing the machine name also edits the domain name. So once renamed, your machine will be accessible over Magic DNS using its new name.

Once you’ve made your update, you’ll see the new name across the admin panel and the Tailscale apps.

Updated machine page

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