Let’s face it. We live in a cold and cruel world where life sometimes isn’t fair. Worse, people lose their Macs and Macs get stolen.
If you’re a recent owner of an iMac or MacBook or MacBook Pro with an iSight camera, you’re in luck.
A free Mac utility called Lockdown locks down your Mac and sounds an alarm when a thief is detected.
The number of notebooks that get lost or stolen each year is astounding. Every major and many minor airports in the country have notebooks turn up every day.
Those are the ones that get turned in or found. For many tens of thousands of notebook owners, thievery is a bigger problem. Offices and homes are invaded and one of the first things to go is the notebook.
Notebook theft is on the rise. Mac notebooks are highly desired and thieves often scour the hard drives for login ID’s, passwords, credit card information—anything that increase the value of their heist.
Enter Lockdown, a handy Mac utility which helps to deter thieves, detect thieves, protect your Mac’s valuable contents.
If your Mac has an iSight camera built in, even better because Lockdown can snap a photo of the thief. Oh, did I mention that Lockdown is free? For now.
No security system is foolproof, of course, but having some system in place is better than no system at all. Lockdown can be effective and add some needed peace of mind.
How Lockdown works is rather straightforward. Once installed you’re presented with a Preference screen with settings for Alarm, iSight camera (highly recommended), various Settings, and Help.
It also helps to have an email account set up in Apple’s Mail. Lockdown requires Mac OS X Leopard. Lockdown is an application which installs a Menu Bar “padlock”. Select Preferences from the menu.
The Alarm tab settings are mostly self explanatory. Triggers can be set by Motion Sensor, your Trackpad or Mouse, the Keyboard, your notebook’s MagSafe Adapter, Lid Closing, or External Devices.
The Alarm duration can be set for 10 seconds to five minutes and cannot easily be shut down unless you have an Apple remote and know the password.
Motion sensitivity is based on the iSight camera settings and a slider bar makes Lockdown highly sensitive or less sensitive to movement. The Motion Sensor, MagSafe Adapter, and Lid Close options are grayed out for iMac models.
Lockdown Status also displays when the alarm was last tripped, and how many times it was tripped since startup.
The iSight Settings tab will display the most recent iSight snapshot, and can be configured to send the photo to an email address (you’ll need to configure Mail with a working email account).
The Settings tab is equally straightforward. Create or edit a password. Lockdown Options include the ability to enable Lockdown from the Menu Bar icon, Display the Lockdown splash screen when locked down, Force Maximum Alarm Volume, and check for updates.
Enabling Lockdown is remarkably simple, too. Click on the lock icon in the Menu Bar and select Lockdown, or, hold down the Apple Remote’s menu button until you hear a chirp sound.
It’s a double chirp similar to the anti-theft device found on many late model cars. When you touch the keyboard (or any other trigger point), the screen flashes and your Mac sounds an alarm (and sends an email notification).
To use your computer again, and deactivate Lockdown, point your Apple Remote at your Mac and hold down the menu button again for a few seconds, or type in your password and press the Enter/Return key.
What’s missing? Some method to track your Mac after it’s been stolen. For that feature, I would be willing to pay money. Lockdown locks your Mac down and can notify you that the alarm sounded, but it can’t tell you where your Mac went.
Another problem I noticed was the quality of the photo that Lockdown takes and sends in the email. Sometimes the image is very dark; so dark as to not be able to identify anything in a room not well lighted. Other times, fine.
Still, with Lockdown you get far more than you pay for (did I mention that Lockdown is free?). I look forward to a future version with a tracking mechanism built in.