You have one old desktop or Mac Collect dust in your home? Put the device to productive use by converting it into a makeshift security camera. All you need is an app that allows you to view your webcam remotely from your mobile phone or tablet.
This guide highlights apps that allow you to view your computer’s built-in camera or external webcam on your smartphone. With these tools, you can remotely monitor your children, elderly parents, housekeepers or valuables from anywhere in the world.
These apps are a boon for individuals who don’t want to invest in new security gadgets. They are easy to set up and require no technical port configuration on your router. All that is needed is an active internet connection.
Before proceeding: Important things to keep in mind
We recommend plugging your computer into a power source if you use these apps as a handy home monitoring system. Also, configure your computer monitor to never go to sleep.
On Windows, launch Control Panel and go to The hardware and the sound > Energy options > Change plan settings and set the option “Put the computer to sleep” to Never—For “On battery” and “Plugged in”. Option Save changes proceed with.
For Mac desktops and laptops, visit System Preferences > Battery > Battery and set the “Disable display later” slider to Never.
We should mention that you may not need these apps if you are using an external USB webcam with dedicated software that supports live streaming. Native webcam apps with remote streaming capabilities will certainly perform better. So check your webcam’s manual or manufacturer’s website for device manuals to view your webcam on Android and iOS devices remotely.
1. AtHome Video Streamer (Android, iOS, Windows and macOS)
We tested many surveillance apps while compiling this section to review webcams remotely, and “AtHome Video Streamer” was successful for several reasons. First, setting up the app on our device was easy. It also boasts many of the security-focused tilt features you’d want in a surveillance application — video snapshots/screenshots, two-way communication, night vision, video recording, etc. This feature is available for free, but you will need to pay for cloud recording, HD streaming, and other advanced features.
On the desktop app, there is a “Power Saving Mode” option that sends the app to the background, locking your computer and turning off its screen without terminating the webcam stream. This feature saves battery life (on laptops) and allows you to view your webcam feed secretly.
Visit developer site, download “AtHome Video Streamer” on your computer and install “AtHome Camera” app on your Android or iOS device. Launch the mobile app, create an account, tap plus symbol (+) in the upper right corner and select Add camera by QR code.
Launch AtHome Video Streamer on your computer, select Generate QR code and scan the QR code that appears on the screen.
Select your computer’s webcam in the “Camera” section and the app will broadcast a live stream from the webcam. It will also show your computer’s timestamp and battery percentage.
Use the controls at the bottom of the screen to change the video quality, record footage from the webcam feed, enable night vision mode, and adjust other settings.
2. Alfred Home Security Camera (Android and iOS)
The app has a freemium model that grants users free access to features like two-way communication, motion detection, and a low-light filter (or night vision) for free. The Android app comes with extra features like motion detection reminder, Google Assistant integration, password lock, etc.
Install the Alfred Home Security Camera app on your Android or iOS device and create an account with your email address. You can also sign up with your Google account or Apple ID. Make sure to verify your email address to log into the client. The next step is to link your phone to the Alfred Camera client “WebCamera”.
Visit AlfredCamera website on your web browser and log in to your account. Give the web app access to your Mac or PC’s camera and microphone when prompted. Then turn on the camera and motion detector options.
Open the Alfred Home Security Camera app on your smartphone or tablet, go to the “Camera” section and select the webcam with the “Live” placeholder on the thumbnail. That will instantly mirror the webcam feed on your PC.
If there is an external camera connected to your PC, select gear icon in the bottom right corner of the video feed, select external webcam in Camera drop-down menu and select Accomplished.
With the free plan, Alfred Camera automatically records a 30-second clip (called an “Event”) in the “Event Book” when the Motion Detector senses motion. These Events are then grouped into an “Event Group,” a collection of 30-second clips from a webcam feed. You can export these clips as “Moments”, save them locally on your device, or share them with friends.
Note that Unsaved Events will be deleted from Alfred Camera’s servers after seven days.
You will need to pay a subscription fee (from $5.99/month) for premium features like HD streaming, extended video recording (up to 120 seconds), person-only motion detection, copper recording time on multiple devices, expandable cloud storage, etc.
Alternatives: Remote Management App
In spite of remote management tool lacking advanced security features, they may suffice as a temporary monitoring tool allowing you to view webcam feeds remotely from your iPhone or Android device.
3. Splashtop (Android and iOS)
While you need a subscription (from $5/month) to view your webcam remotely with Splashtop, the developers offer a 7-day free trial period. Install the Splashtop Business app on your Mac or Windows PC and smartphone. You also need to install the application helper software (for example: Splashtop Streamer) on your computer. Splashtop Streamer runs in the background and allows you to remotely stream your webcam feed without launching the Splashtop Business app.
Install and set up the Splashtop client on your device, create a Splashtop account, and sign in to the desktop and mobile apps with your account credentials.
Note that you must authenticate your device before using applications from viewing your webcam remotely. Check your email inbox, open the verification email from Splashtop and verify your device.
Then, connect your device to the internet, launch the Splashtop Business app on your phone, and select your PC from the list of available devices. Wait for the application to establish a connection with your computer and launch the camera/webcam application. You should see the webcam feed on your phone. Touch menu icon to change video orientation, frame rate, and adjust other important settings.
Splashtop also has a Chromebook app and Chrome Extensions. So, if you have an old Chromebook, install the Splashtop app on the device and convert it into a live monitoring tool.
4. TeamViewer (Android, iOS, Windows and macOS)
TeamViewer is one of the best apps that allows you to remotely access your PC or Mac from your smartphone. The app, free for personal use, uses cloud-based technologies to provide screen sharingOnline collaboration and remote management solutions.
Install the personal/free version on your Windows PC or Mac. You can also run TeamViewer without having it installed on your device. Select this setting if your computer is running low on storage space or if you plan to use the application only once.
Go to the “Remote control” section of the app and note the connection ID (or “your ID”) and the password.
Then, download the TeamViewer app on your iOS or Android device, go to the “Connections” section, enter the connection ID in the “Partner ID” dialog box, tap Remote controland provide the password on the next page.
Make sure that both devices are connected to the internet, preferably on the same network. The TeamViewer app will start connecting and projecting your computer screen onto your smartphone. Select your PC on the Teamviewer app’s control panel and enter the partner password. If everything checked, you should see the webcam feed on your phone or tablet screen.
View Your Webcam Remotely: Limitations
Try to set up your security monitoring system on a bigger screen. Since smartphones have small display sizes, the image/video quality of the app (especially the free versions) is blurry and pixelated. Apps that offer HD streaming (for example, the Alfred Home Security app) usually require a subscription.
The remote management apps, as mentioned earlier, lack security features like motion detection, night vision, etc. Also, you can’t record clips or enhance video quality while streaming. route your webcam via the remote management app. However, they are innovative alternatives to standalone webcam applications.
Whatever app you decide to adopt, make sure you give it the necessary permissions for optimal performance. You should also visit the manufacturer’s website to understand its policies and usage instructions.