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How to Use Your PC Webcam as a Surveillance Camera

webcam as a surveillance camera

Suppose you want to surveil your house or you want to keep an eye on your office while you are away. In that case, you need a Security camera for such kind of task. Get a surveillance camera! But they do not come any cheap nowadays.

What if there is a cheaper solution, a free solution available to your problem. It is a solution that uses your PC webcam as a surveillance camera. This post will enable you to use your PC or laptop Webcam as a surveillance camera.

Where to Start?

Many people wonder about the process involved in using this method. There’s more to the story than just randomly going through the camera’s settings in your PC’s operating system and having an instant ready-to-go camera. You will have to install dedicated software that will allow you to use your laptop’s webcam as a reliable security camera.

You can find the software available online, all of which vary in functionality, some with more features than others. Though some in comparison may be limited in functionality, they are free to use.

What Kind of Computer Do I Need for This Task?

It doesn’t matter if you are using a Windows or Mac operating system as the software is readily available for both. This task in hand needs a PC or laptop with a built-in webcam or a USB-connected webcam. The software must record the feed from a webcam when the motion is detected. There are some high-quality webcams available that are usually used from streaming but will be more than capable for surveillance too.

You have to make sure that the PC or laptop camera is not too old. Models from the early to mid-2000s do not have sufficient resolution for proper surveillance. As such, the image will be distorted and almost useless.

An Important Thing Before Installation

Before we can choose and install the software. We need to change some settings in your operating system power-saving settings.

It ensures that your laptop doesn’t shut down or put itself to sleep while recording. Follow these instructions below, which are available for Windows and Mac operating systems.

For a Windows User

There are four simple steps involved on Windows 10.

  • Get access to the Start Menu by clicking on the window icon and then clicking on the Windows Settings option.
  • Access the System option at the very top.
  • A bar with multiple options will appear on the left. Click on Power & Sleep settings.
  • Screen and Sleep options will appear. Click on When plugged in, turn off after, scroll down and select the Never option.

For a MAC User

It also has four steps.

  • Access the Apple Menu tab.
  • Click on System Preferences.
  • Select the Energy Saver option from the tab.
  • And check the Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off option.

Install a Suitable Software

The software for surveillance comes in both free and premium, varying in features. Some allow you to capture pictures and email, and some will enable access to management through your mobile phones and tablets as well.

We will look at Yawcam, an excellent free option to use your PC or laptop as a surveillance camera. Here is a step-by-step guide to using it.

STEP 1: Download Yawcam Software and Install It

Yawcam is a free Java webcam software that enables you to use the camera attached to your PC or laptop. It captures a live feed and publishes the live video from the website-connected PC or laptop.

Go to your browser and run a Google search for Yawcam. A link to Yawcam is in the above paragraph; download the software using the official website of Yawcam.

Once the downloading is complete, click on the wizard to install Yawcam. Ensure that the webcam(s) you want to use is correctly plugged in and the drivers are installed. Then, launch Yawcam.

STEP 2: Configure Your Webcam in Yawcam Software

Next comes the configuration of your webcam in Yawcam software. For that, access the software, and click on Settings options. You can then choose the camera that you want to use with Yawcam.

If you have an integrated camera option, click on it. Yawcam will detect your camera and open a new window to show you the live video feed.

STEP 3: Turn on the Motion Detection Feature

After configuring your webcam, configure the motion detection feature. It is done by clicking on the Window menu. A list of options will appear; you have to select motion detection.

The window will show you an example of the motion being detected live by your camera. You can fine-tune motion detection features by accessing the Setting menu option.

You can try different settings and confine the motion detection to a particular camera image area. Additionally, you can change the sensitivity level of the camera as well.

STEP 4: Set up Email Notification for Yawcam Software

After completing all the above steps, your PC or laptop will now act as a surveillance camera for you in your absence. Remember that if your camera will be on for long periods, you must protect your webcam from being hacked as well.

It remains essential to set up an email notification function to monitor what is happening around when you are away.

Yawcam will send you a notification alert on the provided email whenever it detects motion. It also has a feature that allows you to get Snaps and screenshots whenever the motion detection is triggered.

Go to the Settings option and click on the Action tab to enable this helpful feature. A list of check options will appear; check the option Send email and proceed with the settings as per your email account type to receive the notification alerts.


So, setting up your PC or laptop’s webcam as a surveillance camera is relatively easy, and anyone with a bit of know-how of computers can do it.

There is multiple software available online to get you started. If you value camera surveillance and cannot afford to install expensive cameras, it is best to use your laptop’s webcam. However, the quality of dedicated webcams cannot be matched by almost any built-in webcam.

About author

A finance major with a passion for all things tech, Uneeb loves to write about everything from hardware to games (his favorite genre being FPS). When not writing, he can be seen in his natural habitat reading, studying investments, or watching Formula 1.
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