Don’t have the budget for a full home security system? Luckily you can turn your laptop into a security camera to act as surveillance while you are away. In this step by step guide, we will show you exactly how to set up a free software that will give you everything you need to monitor what you care about most.

What You’ll Need

  1. Laptop
  2. Webcam: If your laptop does not have a built-in webcam, you need a separate webcam that you can connect with a USB cable
  3. Video Surveillance Software: The top free webcam security systems we recommend are from Yawcam, Perfect Surveillance, Security Eye and ZoneMinder. Freemium and paid laptop security camera software options are also available for your operating system.

Step 1. Download The Webcam Security Camera Software

In this guide, we will be using Yawcam (which also stands for Yet Another WebCam). Head over to the Yawcam website to download and install the software. While waiting for the installation to complete, update the power settings of your laptop to prevent your webcam from turning off while you are away from home.

If you are using Windows, click the battery icon on the bottom right corner of your screen and go to Power & sleep settings to bring up your power settings. Make sure you select Never under the setting When plugged in, turn off after

Step 2. Add Your Camera

Click on Settings > Device > Change to > Integrated camera to add your laptop webcam or USB camera.

integrated camera

You can check your surveillance camera feed in the preview window.


Yawcam does not come with audio support features. If you want advanced capabilities such as network audio broadcasting abilities or night vision, you may have to use other software that has these features available.

You can add more cameras if you wish to add more monitoring locations. Each instance of the application can only support one camera so open multiple instances of Yawcam to add cameras.

To add cameras in separate locations around the house, you can use Internet Protocol cameras or IP cameras. An IP camera can be controlled remotely via the Internet without the need for a USB cable.

Step 3. Set Up Video Output

You can either save your video output to your hard drive or upload it to your

web server via FTP cloud uploading. Alternatively, upload your video feed to the web with HTTP. You can enable these output modes through the main control panel.

ftp cloud uploading

Here is how your video footage would look like when viewed from your web browser.

web browser

There is no audio recording directly available from Yawcam and only CCTV camera footage will be recorded.

Step 4. Set Up A Stream

One output option you can enable is the Stream option. This allows you to set up live video streaming so you can look at the feed from your security cameras on the go.


Remote access is available and you can see who is viewing your video stream. If you discover a viewer who should not be there, kick out or ban the viewer from the webcam stream.

To ensure no one can watch your stream, set up password protection on your stream output. Think someone might mess with your laptop while you are away? Desktop recording is available if you install the VH Screen Capture Driver separately.

screen capture driver

Step 5. Set Up Motion Detection

To set up motion detection recording, right-click the tray icon as shown below.

detection recording

If any motion is detected in front of your laptop camera, the software will take image snapshots and you can set up email alerts to be notified when this happens.

SMS alerts are not directly supported for Yawcam, but you can configure an email to SMS gateway to receive alerts on your phone. You can further customize motion processing settings including sensitivity and tolerance levels for your security cameras.

motion processing settings

“Criminals are creatures of opportunity and wherever there’s an opportunity to strike, they will, be it in a big city or small suburb.”

- Lee Walters, founder of, a home-security education website


A home security camera is one of the most effective deterrents for burglars [1]. Check these 7 signs that someone is casing your house.

With your laptop, you can set up a webcam security system with surveillance cameras running 24/7 that alerts you to potential dangers in or around your home.

Did this guide help you with your home security system? Share this on your social media and check out our related posts.


  1. Piza, E. L., Welsh, B. C., Farrington, D. P., & Thomas, A. L. (2019). CCTV surveillance for crime prevention. Criminology & Public Policy, 18(1), 135–159. doi: 10.1111/1745-9133.12419
  2. Blevins, K. R., Kuhns, J. B., & Lee, S. "Z. (2012). Understanding Decisions To Burglarize From The Offender's Perspective. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology. Retrieved from
  3. Yawcam -
Avatar for Violet Salzer

Violet Salzer

Violet is a research specialist with over 20 years of experience. She scrutinizes what is dubbed as the “best of the best.” Every product that passes through her hands is rigorously tested for quality and reliability.