What can you do after the horse has left the barn? When you get a new horse you’ll need a lock on the barn door. Here’s a quick look at three ways to track a lost or stolen Mac; one packed with features, another useful but free, and Apple’s way.
Close The Door
One of the coolest features on iPhone and iPad is Find My iPhone, and the downloadable app, Find My Friends. Both apps use GPS and Wi-Fi connections to track a friend or family member’s iPhone or iPad, but can be useful when either one is stolen or lost.
What about the Mac?
Apple has a Back to My Mac utility in OS X which works somewhat the same way, but there’s also a Find My Mac option; both built-in, both free, both rather easily overcome by a thief or someone who finds your lost Mac.
VUWER uses built-in functions already available on OS X. It’s written in AppleScript so modifications are easy for Mac users with more experience. VUWER captures data when lost or stolen and you control how the app communicates back to you.
Once connected, you can captures screenshots from the iSIght camera, use IP geolocation data to track down a Mac at a specific location, so it becomes a theft-recovery utility without a price tag (VUWER is open source).
At the other end of the spectrum is Undercover, a commercial Mac tracker with more bells and whistles. While it won’t prevent a theft or lost Mac, it does have features which make it more difficult for the thief or someone who finds your Mac to use it, up to issuing warnings that cannot be stopped by the thief.
Undercover can simulate a hardware failure with a notification to get it repaired or even sell it. Undercover then warns the new user that the Mac has been stolen and should be returned, takes over the Mac’s screen, displays how it can be returned, and makes the Mac unusable.
Of course, Undercover can help you track the Mac, too, especially useful if law enforcement is willing to assist. It’s been a few years since we reviewed VUWER on Mac360, but it works much the same way. Ditto for Undercover in Alexis Kayhill’s humorous missive about a lost Mac and a lost child.