Š How VUWER Works
VUWER is a background process that automatically starts running after login to a user account on your laptop computer. VUWER periodically monitors a web page, remote computer account, or Dropbox account that you create. By altering a line of text on the web page, or a text file on the remote account or in Dropbox, you can instruct VUWER to automatically capture screen shots, camera images, and the IP address (with associated geolocation information) that your laptop is using to connect to the Internet, and send that information to you at regular intervals.
VUWER operates independently of Apple’s iCloud “Find My Mac” service, and provides information and capabilities that “Find My Mac” does not. “Find My Mac” only shows the approximate location on a map. In an urban setting (e.g. an apartment building in a city), it may be impossible to determine exactly who has your laptop using “Find My Mac” alone. And while “Find My Mac” gives you the ability to remotely lock or erase your laptop, doing so may actually reduce your chances of getting the laptop back. The philosophy behind VUWER is different: by allowing the thief to use your computer, you can discreetly gather information about him, including his photograph, his name, his home address, the network(s) he uses, and the web sites he visits. With this information, your chances of recovering your laptop (and having the police arrest the thief) are greatly improved.
Unfortunately, VUWER (or any other Mac recovery software, for that matter) may be useless against a professional thief who knows how to bypass password protection in OS X, or how to format or replace the hard drive before using the computer. However, my observation has been that the overwhelming majority of computer thieves are not professionals. In general, they are petty criminals (often drug users) who are looking for quick cash, and will sell a laptop to someone who is willing to buy stolen goods. If you provide the thief (or buyer) with the means to use your laptop, he may be quite content to use it to surf the web, access Facebook, send email, etc., giving you the opportunity to track him and hopefully recover your property. The installation procedure will describe how to accomplish this while keeping your personal data secure.
Š VUWER Features
(1) VUWER is free of charge, open source, and relies on standard OS X commands and readily available freeware applications for installation and operation. Also, since VUWER is written in Applescript, it is relatively easy to modify or enhance in any way you choose.
(2) You are in complete control of where the captured data from your stolen laptop is sent and how it is accessed; data can be transmitted either by email or by secure file copy to another computer account.
(3) You can remotely capture screenshots, built-in camera images, and IP geolocation information from your laptop, and separately choose their respective repetition intervals.
(4) No third-party intermediary is required to track your laptop. VUWER eliminates any possibility of an unscrupulous person at a theft-recovery company snooping on you.
Š VUWER Requirements
The latest version of VUWER will work on any Intel Mac running OS 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) through 10.11.x (El Capitan). The CPU load for VUWER is almost negligible (less than 0.1% on a Core 2 Duo Mac).
An older version of VUWER (1.7.7) is available for older PowerPC Macs running OS 10.4.11 (Tiger) through OS 10.5.x (Leopard).