How to use iSight as a video surveillance

Who I am
Valery Aloyants
Author and references

Preliminary information

Before we delve into the heart of the tutorial and actually see how to use iSight as video surveillance, it seems only right to make some important clarifications, providing you preliminary information that will be useful to you.

In the next paragraphs I will not explicitly refer to the iSight, as this webcam is no longer produced by Apple, having been replaced with the most recent FaceTime. The Macs on the market since 2010, in fact, all integrate the latter and not the now "antiquated" iSight.

For this reason, in the following chapters I will use the generic term "webcam", without referring directly to either iSight or FaceTime. The instructions in this guide, in fact, are valid for both Apple webcams. Having made this clarification, I would say that we can actually start!

Programs to use webcams as video surveillance

Let's see, therefore, some programs to use webcams as video surveillance. Obviously, I will not limit myself to listing what, in my opinion, are the best solutions available: I will also explain how to use them in detail.

AtHome Camera

The first solution I recommend you to adopt is AtHome Camera, a free software that you can use in conjunction with the webcam integrated in your Mac. Before explaining its operation, however, I would like to make a necessary clarification: AtHome Camera must be used together with a "satellite" device, which is a PC Windows or a mobile device, using the appropriate app for Android and iOS / iPadOS.

The program, in fact, works roughly like this: you download the application dedicated to the management of video surveillance on Windows (at the time of writing, unfortunately it is not available for Mac), then you install the application that allows you to use the Mac as a hidden camera.

To proceed, therefore, the first thing you need to do is download the video surveillance management program by going to this page, clicking on the item Download which is located at the top and then clicking on the button AtHomeCamera Vx.xx located in correspondence with the wording Windows.

When the download is complete, extract theZIP archive obtained and open the file .exe content within you. In the window that opens, click on the button Yes, click on your bottone Next four times in a row and then click on the buttons installFinish. If a warning appears during installation asking you to add the software to the firewall exceptions, accept (if you don't, the application will not work correctly).

If you do not have a PC to use as a "satellite" device, as I told you, you can use your mobile device, using the application of AtHome Camera for Android or iOS / iPadOS, whose operation does not differ much from that of the software for Windows.

In the main program window, click on the entry Register now (bottom right) and fill out the form displayed with yours phone number or e-mail e Password, so as to create a free account and, after placing the check mark in the box relating to the acceptance of the conditions of use of the service, click on the button Sign Up. From mobile you have to follow almost the same procedure.

Now, proceed to install AtHome Video Streamer, the program that actually allows you to use the Mac webcam for video surveillance. Then go to this page and click on the button See in the Mac App Store. Then install the application by clicking on the button Ottieni / Installa present in the Mac App Store opened and, if necessary, confirm the installation with the touch ID (if your Mac has one) or with the Password from your Apple account.

Once the download is complete, click the button apri that has appeared and grant the application permission to access the camera and microphone by clicking on the button OK twice in a row. After that, go back to the main window of AtHome Camera, pigia sul pulsating Add Camera and complete the text fields CID room, Username e Password with the corresponding information displayed in the main window of AtHome Video Streamer (open on your Mac), then click OK.

If you are operating from the app AtHome Camera for mobile devices, on the other hand, tap the button Ad First Streamer and scan the QR code displayed in the window AtHome Streamer (always open on the Mac).

As if by "magic", you will be able to see what happens in the room where the Mac on which you have installed AtHome Video Streamer is present. Have you seen how easy it was to use AtHome Camera and use the Mac webcam as a video surveillance system?

Periscope Pro

Another application that I recommend you to try is Periscope Pro, which allows you to monitor your home with your Mac webcam and save recordings both locally and on Dropbox (so you can easily access them remotely). It includes support for external IP cameras and allows you to customize many parameters, first of all the framerate and resolution of the videos to be recorded.

Recording can be continuous (not recommended if you do not want to fill your computer disk with unnecessary videos right away!) Or activated intelligently when the webcam detects movements or sounds nearby. Unlike AtHome Camera, it does not require the use of a "satellite" device, which can make it in some ways even more attractive, even if it must be said that it is not free: it costs 21,99 €. However, its features can be tested for a limited trial period.

To take advantage of the free trial version of the application, go to its download page, click on the green button Try it for free and open the package .dmg obtained. Next, drag thesoftware icon in the folder Applications macOS, go to the path in question, right-click on the Periscope Pro icon and click on the button apri twice in a row (this is necessary only at the first start of the program, to "bypass" the restrictions imposed by Apple on non-certified software).

Once the installation is complete, grant Periscope Pro permission to access the camera and microphone by double clicking the button OK by means of the panels that open on the screen. Then start Periscope Pro, click on the button Try Now, to start the trial version of the software, and set preferences for recording videos. To do this, click on the button Continuous and choose when to start shooting.

  • Continuous (option set by default) - records everything continuously.
  • Motion detection - only records when nearby movements are detected.
  • Audio detection - only record when sounds are detected nearby.
  • Motion + Audio detection - records when both motion and sound are detected.

I also point out that, by moving the indicator of the green bar placed next to the item Detection Threshold, you can adjust the intensity level of the sound or movement that should trigger the recording.

After adjusting the parameters relating to the start of the recordings, you can enter the advanced settings of the application (by clicking on thegear or by pressing cmd +,) and choose the resolution / framerate of the videos to save on the Mac. If you don't know where to put your hands, leave the default settings active.

Furthermore, from the same panel, you can activate the automatic upload of footage to Dropbox which - if you have an account with enough space available - will allow you to control what is happening at home even remotely. Just check the option Copy video clips to Dropbox folder. Once this step has also been completed, you can start the video surveillance of your room by returning to the Periscope Pro home screen and pressing the button Power (the one in the center).

The recording takes place even when the Mac is with the screen off, however it is not completely hidden, in the sense that to an attentive eye it is signaled by the presence of the classic green LED of the integrated webcam. Maybe you can hide it with a small piece of black tape, being careful not to cover the camera as well (however "rustic" it may seem as a solution).

Uglog (Online)

Now I want to talk to you about Ugolog, an online service that is able to detect environmental movements using the webcam of the Mac (and in general of any computer). It works on all major browsers that support the plugin Adobe Flash Player (necessary to use it). Basically it's free but, if you want, you can subscribe starting from $ 9,95 / month, to increase the storage and archiving time of the movies.

To use it, go to its main page and click on the button Sign Up Now. Therefore, provide yours in the appropriate text fields email address and Password you want to use (twice in a row) and, after checking the box I agree to Terms and Conditionsclick on your bottone Create new account.

After completing the registration, click on the wording RECORD (top right) and, on the page that opens, you agree to enable Adobe Flash Player (if you don't know how to install and activate Flash Player, read the guides I have published on the subject).

Then allow Ugolog to access the Mac webcam by responding affirmatively to the warning you see appear on the screen and, if everything went well, the video surveillance service will be activated and will start recording from the webcam if it detects movements.

If you want to adjust the webcam and video recording settings, click the button Settings, at the top right, and select the size of the recording, set the frequency of the shots and so on. 

The stored recordings can then be viewed by clicking on the entry Video, top left. If you want, you can also download them locally, by clicking on the button Download, at the top right, and indicating the export format you prefer (eg. Full day video - QuickTime (.mov)).

How to use iSight as a video surveillance

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