It is possible to turn your laptop into a security or spy camera and record covertly through the web camera. You can just leave the laptop running and the web camera will record, or capture images without anyone knowing.
This is one of the common questions we get: how can I turn my laptop into a spy camera? That’s what this guide is for.
We will show how you can easily make your laptop a security camera by using free software. Keep in mind, that this is for educational purposes only, be careful if you’re planning to do something that is illegal.
To transform your laptop into a spy security camera you will need the following:
- A laptop.
- A web camera. Nowadays all laptops come with built-in cameras, so there’s no need to purchase an external one. You can simply use the laptop’s web camera as a spy cam.
- A camera software. There are a lot of options here, some free, others freemium. If you just need basic recording on motion, then for a free one.
In this demonstration, we will use two software: Contacam and Yawcam. Both are freeware and easy to use. We’d suggest using Contacam since is far more superior and reliable.
Laptop Camera Secret Recording Methods
As we said, you need a laptop with a built-in camera and free camera software. You have to install the camera software on the laptop and program it to use the camera to record covertly.
There are two software that we tried and they worked properly: Contacam and Yawcam. Read below to learn how to use the software and how to turn your laptop into a hidden spy camera.
How to turn your laptop’s web camera into a spy camera via Contacam?
Contacam is fast and versatile enough to meet your security needs and turn your webcam into a spy camera. It’s free and the videos will be stored directly on your laptop. You can even monitor the live view of your laptop’s spy camera via phone. Also, it supports almost all popular IP cameras.
Download and Install the Contacam software
In the first step, you need to download Contacam on your laptop. You can download it from the official website on this link. There’s no need to pay because it’s free.
Then you need to install Contacam, a process that is pretty basic. Run the downloaded file and go through the prompts. Click Agree, Next, Install, and Finish. The steps are shown below.
Add your web camera to the Contacam
Once installed, you have to run the software (you can find it via the Windows search bar by typing “Contacam”. When the Contacam is running, it will quickly scan the built-in camera and other hardware information about your laptop.
Click the Camera button on top and select the laptop’s camera. Usually, it should contain “Webcam” or “HD” on the title. It will list whatever cameras you may have on the network, but you have to select the one that is embedded on the laptop.
Once you select the camera, the software will open the live feed and you should see the image on the screen (as shown below).
Automatically the software will open up the Basic Camera settings. You need to pay attention to this window.
You need to tick the box on the Autostart camera options and you can even give the camera a more friendly name.
On the Storage, you can choose how long you need to keep the files saved on your laptop (1 month, half-year, etc). Also, the software gives you an option to receive email notifications if the camera fails.
By default, the software will record motion detection. If you see a red circle on the screen, it means that the software is recording motion. Additionally, you may click the Recording option at the bottom and change the sensitivity of the recording.
As you can see, by default it is set to Motion Tec with sensitivity 50. If you want it more sensitive, choose other options such as 80 or 90. The “REC OFF” option turns off the recording. The Continuous REC enables the software to record in continuous mode.
Now you’re wondering where the files are saved. Click the red circle icon at the bottom of the screen and then hit “View RECs on File Explorer” and it will direct you to the folder where the files are stored (C:\ContaCam).
If you click “View RECs in Web Browser”, it will direct you to the Edge browser and you should see all the recordings listed there.
An awesome feature, since it’s much easier to navigate. Click on any file and they’ll play with your default video player (the recordings are stored as MP4). The video automatically shows the timestamp.
The saved videos have a “NO DONATION” stamp on the right lower corner. While the software and its features are free, this stamp will be there unless you donate something to the software’s creator. You need to donate at least $10 to remove this stamp. It’s totally worth it because the software is really good.
Another thing you need to do is make the software run automatically every time the laptop is powered on. Go to Settings and click Global Settings.
You need to make sure that both Start with Windows and Tray Icon are checked. This way, when the laptop is powered on, the software will record and will be hidden in the tray area of the Windows toolbar.
In the same window, you can change the path where the files are saved. On the Parent Directory of all Cameras, click the three dots and select your own folder.
The web interface section contains information that will enable you to remotely see the camera via the phone using the generic IP Cam Viewer app.
NOTE: When the web camera is recording, you may see an LED light turned on beside the camera. This is a built-in feature of any laptop that notifies the user the camera is on.
If you intend to use it as a spy camera, you should cover the LED with tape or something like that to block off the light. Online you can find laptop camera covers.
How to turn your web camera into a spy camera via Yawcam?
Another software you can use to turn your webcam into a spy cam is Yawcam (which stands for Yet Another Webcam). It’s free and works the same way as Contacam.
Download the software from this link and have it installed on your laptop. Just go through the prompts: Agree, Next, Next, Finish. Next, you need to run the app and add your laptop’s web camera to it.
Add the laptop’s camera to Yawcam software
Now you need to add the laptop’s built-in camera. Click on Settings > Device > Change to > Integrated camera. This will bring out the live feed from the laptop’s camera.
All things considered, this software is pretty much basic, it doesn’t support any audio or advanced settings. It will just get the video feed from your laptop’s camera, enable motion detection and record anything that moves across the camera.
The recording can either be saved to your hard drive or uploaded to your web cloud server via FTP upload. You can choose what to do with the footage on the main control panel of the software.
You need to click Motion (enable it) to allow the software to save the recordings based on motion. Then click File and select the folder where you want to save them.
The videos will open up on the web browser and you can play from there (as shown below), or you use your own video player.
As we said, this software is nothing fancy, but it does its job. The interface looks updated but it’s maintained by the creator. Once you set it to record, it will be hidden in the tray area while it runs in the background.
Things to consider when turning your laptop into a spy security camera
The camera LED light
A few things you need to consider before going through the path of turning your laptop into a spy security camera.
First of all, when the camera is recording, you should see a light beside the camera turned on. Some laptops don’t have this LED light, but most of the newer ones come with it.
The LED light turning on indicates that the camera is on and it’s recording. And that might be a problem if you’re looking to deploy a spy camera setup. You should cover this light with tape or buy a special cover online that will make it look like the cover is part of the laptop.
The laptop may go into sleep mode
Another thing, the laptop needs to stay powered on. If it goes to sleep after some time, then the software won’t be able to record anything. To avoid this scenario, adjust the Power & Sleep settings on your laptop. Ensure the laptop won’t go to sleep or power off when inactive.
Will the camera record if the screen is locked?
Contacam software will record even when the screen is locked. We tested this ourselves and it works just fine. The web camera LED light will turn on depending on the detected motion, but it will light up even when the Windows screen is locked.
Is it legal to turn my laptop’s camera into a spy camera?
This one varies depending on your local jurisdiction. We’d suggest being careful who you are recording and avoiding any situation that may cause legal trouble for you.
As a matter of fact, the best course is to consult with a local lawyer and find out if it’s okay to record on spy mode. Usually, if the apartment is yours then you can record anyone in an area that is supposed to be “public”.
That means the living room and absolutely not the bathrooms. This guide is for educational purposes. We are not responsible for any improper use of the instructions.
If you’re wondering if you can turn your laptop’s internal web camera into a spy security camera, the answer is YES. And it’s quite easy to do so.
You need to install a special camera software on the laptop that will detect the camera and record the video feed based on motion detection.
We showed how you can do that using two free software: Contacam and Yawcam. We’d definitely recommend using Contacam since the interface is better, runs smoothly, and has more advanced features such as auto-starting the camera every time the laptop turns on. The other one (Yawcam) is too basic and feels a little bit outdated.
The guide is for educational purposes, turn your laptop into a hidden camera at your own risk. If you have any questions let us know in the comment section. If you’re looking to get a real security camera system, check out our recommendations.