In keeping with my reputation as the resident Mac360 Value Vixen™, I promise to provide readers with more Mac software bargains.
Here’s a good one. Most Macs come with a built-in iSight camera (except Mac mini and Mac Pro). iSight is good for iChat or Skype, quick photos and videos to email or upload, or goofing around with Photo Booth. Here’s how to make your Mac become a spy camera. For free.
Free SpyCam, WebCam, FunCam
Free is the name of the game during a down economy and this week has been full of Mac software freebies.
Today we take a look at ImageCaster, the Mac webcam software. Is it really free?
The answer is, well, yes. Totally free. Download it. Try it. ImageCaster makes a good webcam and can be used as a spy camera (mostly to see who’s been naughty or nice), or just for some fun photo snap shots.
I’ve used ImageCaster for about five years (since before there were rugs rats, curtain climbers, and carpet crawlers in the Kayhill household) and consider it worthy of use on our family Macs.
How ImageCaster Does What It Does
Start using the web cam with the Source Panel. This is where you set up the camera—select the source, image size, snapshot format, the schedule, and all the little details that make it go click in the night.
The Overlay tab lets you set the date and time, overlay a graphic, or set the auto sensor (think of it as motion sensing). You’re in control of the screen size, the background color.
Yes, text can be dropped over the image to show the time when an image was snapped (perfect for watching the babysitter that is supposed to be watching your children). ImageCaster can be used as a webcam, too, and uploads photos to a remote website according to your schedule.
Website? Yes, ImageCaster actually creates a web page in HTML using one of a number of templates. You create the headline, sub-head, and sidebar copy.
Schedule, Destination, Monitor, Oh My
Lest you think that because ImageCaster is free it’s also scaled down, look again. This is commercial Mac software without a price tag and with no strings attached.
Next up is the Schedule Panel. It’s self explanatory. Select the day of the week, then select the hour of the day, and then a setting to take a snapshot using your camera every x number of minutes.
The Destination panel is a little trickier because you need to know where you want the photo to go when it gets snapped. Save it on your Mac, upload to MobileMe or a remote web server (via FTP).
The Monitor panel simply gives you a live video shot of your camera. This is handy so you know where to point your Mac’s camera. A small USB video camera plugged into a Mac mini makes an excellent home or small office spy camera.
The same applies to the living room. ImageCaster can be set to snap whenever there is sufficient motion in front of the camera. Your settings are saved as documents, and you can create multiple configurations for multiple uses.
Did I mention that ImageCaster is free? It works on Intel and PPC Macs and can use nearly any recent USB video camera. The catch? Don’t expect updates or support. You get what you pay for, but in this case the price is right.