How to Turn Your Laptop Into a Home Security System

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With one of a half-dozen free programs, you can use your laptop to monitor your living space through its built-in camera. Most programs are free, but simplistic. For advanced functionality, you can pay for additional features from the likes of Yawcam (what we’re using today), iSpy, SecuritySpy and others.


I chose Yawcam because it seemed to offer quite a bit of functionality for free. But, if you’re looking for more, such as FTP-upload, you can always fork over a few bucks for the premium version.

Getting Started

Before we begin, there’s some set-up we’ll have to do to our laptop’s power saver settings. This keeps the laptop webcam from shutting off, and provides an always-on interface to monitor our home environment. We’re going to save power still by dimming our screen until it goes dark, and only waking the webcam with motion -- one of Yawcam’s settings.

1. Click the battery icon in the bottom right corner of your screen to bring up the power saver menu.

power settings2. Click Power & sleep settings.

battery3. Choose Never from the dropdown that controls power while plugged in.



From here, we can start setting up the software and testing our home security camera.

1. Download Yawcam and install the program.

install Yawcam

2. From the Yawcam console, choose the Settings tab.



3. Navigate to Device > Change to and select integrated camera.

integrated camera

4. Choose how you’d like to output the imagery whether File (saved to location), FTP (uploaded to server), HTTP (uploaded to web), or Stream. I chose File for testing purposes.

file5. From the Window tab, select Motion detection.

motion detection

6. Go to the Actions tab and click Settings next to Save video.


7. Choose a file location to store your images in, and click OK.

click ok8. Check the box next to Save image and then close the window.

check box

9. From the Yawcam console, select enable next to Motion.


Add a comment
  • Peter Says:

    Great article, thanks, I successfully followed your instructions. The house will be safe on my holidays!

  • Ivan5CharactersRequired Says:

    Java required? Thanks, but no thanks.

  • Johan Says:

    This is very good thank you Laptopmag

  • Alfie LC Says:

    If configured with a free Ispy account it will automatically upload its recordings to your online account.

  • Shawn @ HomeSecuritylist Says:

    Extremely informative blog. In fact, turning a laptop into home security is not only an innovative idea but also an effective one. A burglar or a thief will hardly suspect that the laptop can even be a home security device. However, wondering what will happen if the thief actually takes the laptop itself with him.

  • Timothy Blair? Says:

    Yes I have been trying to find out how to track down my laptop someone has taken it and! I was told that their is a way that if I have all my information to my pc laptop that this could be done, it is from Wal-Mart it was bought in April 2015 and is a go 15-fo33wm notebook the registration date is 4-24-15 and the sn# is 5cd4515l5y could you please help me or show me how to find the location of my laptop thank you very much Timothy Blair

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