Before we get started
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It’s never been easier to keep an eye on your home or business remotely. There are dozens of security camera systems available, many of which run on your Mac and can be monitored remotely from another computer or even your phone. Fancy keeping an eye on the cleaner, or checking that the kids have got home safely? Or perhaps you’ve gone away for a few days and want to check on your house occasionally.
We’ve listed 10 apps below which are all available in the Mac App Store. Many make use of your Mac’s built-in camera (or an external USB one) so you can check what’s going on while you’re away.
1. Home Watch
Link: App Store
Home Watch is quite a simple app – it just snaps a picture whenever motion is detected, or it can be set to take pictures periodically, e.g. every 30 minutes. Every image can be saved on your Mac or uploaded to a cloud service such as DropBox, which can be accessed from another computer or even viewed on your phone. Home Watch is one of the simplest remote surveillance apps for the Mac, but it gets the job done.
Link: App Store
iSentry is another simple (and free!) app that uses your webcam record what’s going on. Just like Home Watch, it can be triggered to send you a video or photo whenever motion is detected. There are also various settings to control the activation time, sounds, alerts and email notifications. Images can be uploaded to various hosting sites, so you can view them from literally anywhere.
iWatchU is one of the most feature-rich of the surveillance applications we’ve covered, and just like most of them, it features some pretty advanced motion detection algorithms and can record video whenever an intrusion is detected, and let you know by sending an email.
Every event is recorded to its history so you can easily look through all the events, which can be saved as either images or movies. The app supports unlimited USB or Firewire cameras simultaneously – handy if you want to monitor multiple rooms at once. Perhaps it’s best feature (and something the other apps don’t seem to offer) is that you can stream live video of the action! View everything on your iPhone and iPad too with the freely available companion apps. iWatchU certainly provides all the features you could ever need to make sure your Mac is safe and sound!
4. My Webcam Broadcaster
My Webcam Broadcaster is another pretty decent free app, but it doesn’t have very many features – however the basics are covered well. It’s compatible with the built-in Mac iSight camera and many external USB ones, and can its snaps be viewed on the web, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (you need to download the iOS app first). It takes regular snapshots to create a time-lapse video, which you can make public or keep private.
5. OpenEye Remote
OpenEye Remote is a little different to the other apps listed, because you need to have one of the remote controlled OpenEye professional cameras for it to work. Check out the OpenEye website for the full range of cameras – once you’ve got the correct one, you can view them remotely even pan, zoom and tilt! The app is free but of course you need to splash out on the hardware…
6. Security Camera
Security Camera is another basic app, but it’s simple to use and setup is a breeze. Every time your computer wakes, it silently takes a pic and saves the photo into the folder of your choice. You’ll be able to see who’s been using your Mac without your knowledge with this little app installed…
Pictures can be uploaded to a Dropbox account for remote viewing, so even if somebody steals your Mac you’ll probably have a picture of the thief. It’s password protected, so nobody can disable it or delete the photos.
7. Spy Cam
Another app by Alice Dev Team, Spy Cam has more advanced features and capabilities than Security Camera. Videos are saved in 320 x 240 resolution, and can be triggered at intervals between 1 and 30 minutes with video lengths of between 5 and 60 seconds. Every video is compressed to save space on your Mac’s disk, and the developers claim that it doesn’t take up much system resources as it quietly runs in the background.
Like most of the others apps, a password ensures that nobody can interfere with it, and videos are automatically sent to your Dropbox account. Not bad for just £6.99 and greater peace of mind that your beloved Mac is safe…
Link: App Store
Tattletale only works with the Mac’s iSight camera, but most Macs (except the Mini and desktop Pro) have one built-in anyway. The app silently runs in the background and takes snapshots whenever someone logs onto your account, or wakes up your computer.
Images can be saved to any folder and sent by email, and location information is included (such as the IP address and Internet Service Provider), which could be quite useful to help recovering your Mac. If there’s any built-in positioning capabilities (which required Wi-Fi), these details are also used to pinpoint your computer’s location even further.
9. Third EYE
Link: App Store
Third EYE uses advanced motion detection to determine whenever somebody moving is near your Mac. Most of the apps use similar principles (a combination of image processing and the Mac’s ambient light sensor), but Third EYE claims their system is particularly advanced – the benefit of better motion detection is that you videos and photos are only activated when there really is movement in the room.
Third EYE includes two modes – either continuous recording of photos and videos which can be sent by email, or it can record them only at the time of intrusion – the output can be sent by email to a mobile phone or computer.
10. Who’s Looking
Link: App Store
Who’s Looking also has two modes – continuous pictures taken at defined intervals (it has a built-in thumbnail image viewer so you can browse them quickly), or it will take a snap when your Mac wakes up. Every image is only accessible within the application (which is password protected) so nobody disable it or delete vital evidence!
Dropbox is supported and it’s one of the few apps that supports external USB cameras in addition to the default iSight camera – great for multiple room monitoring.