Multi-camera video surveillance software for the Mac
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you offer camera sales or installation services?
We do not ourselves offer these services, however we have partnered with many resellers worldwide who do offer these services.
Which network cameras are supported by SecuritySpy?
How can I use SDI cameras in SecuritySpy?
SDI (Serial Digital Interface) cameras can be used in SecuritySpy using suitable input hardware from BlackMagic, for example their DeckLink PCIe cards (DeckLink Quad, DeckLink Studio, DeckLink Duo, DeckLink SDI, DeckLink Mini Recorder) or UltraStudio USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt devices (UltraStudio Mini Recorder, UltraStudio Express, UltraStudio SDI).
How can I use HDMI cameras in SecuritySpy?
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cameras can be used in SecuritySpy using suitable input hardware from BlackMagic, for example their Intensity PCIe, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt devices (Intensity Pro, Intensity Shuttle, Intensity Extreme) or UltraStudio USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt devices (UltraStudio Pro, UltraStudio SDI, UltraStudio Express, UltraStudio Mini Recorder).
How is it possible to get input from multiple analog cameras?
The best solution is to use one or more Axis network video servers or other video server supported by SecuritySpy. See a complete list of supported network video servers here. Video servers provide high-quality video and can be connected to the computer via an ethernet network over long distances if required.
How can I disable a camera?
Initially, SecuritySpy will use all available video input devices, including the computer's internal iSight
camera. If you don't want SecuritySpy to use a particular camera, you need to disable
it by unchecking the Camera enabled option in the Camera Setup window:
How much hard drive space is required for the captured footage?
The amount of hard disk space used depends on many factors including frame rate, compression format and quality, video size, and how much motion is detected. To give some idea, MPEG-4 video at medium compression quality at 640x480 resolution recorded at 10fps with temporal compression enabled gives data rates of approximately 100 KB/s. This is roughly 3 hours of constant recording per GB of hard disk space. If using SecuritySpy's motion detection capture, recording will only take place a fraction of the time, so depending on how much motion there is you can get maybe several days' worth of footage per GB of hard disk space.
MPEG-4 is a good choice for a video surveillance because of its high quality at low data rates and use of temporal compression. SecuritySpy also supports capturing in JPEG and H.264 format. H.264 is approximately 2 times more efficient than MPEG-4 (ie. files are half the size at the same quality) however it requires a very large amount of memory and processing power. Therefore MPEG-4 is usually the best choice.Our System Requirements Calculator will give you a rough guide to how much hard drive space is recommended for a particular setup.
Can SecuritySpy capture to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device?
Yes, providing the NAS supports AFP (Apple File Protocol), which most do.
To set this up, mount the NAS device on your Mac, either from the Devices section on the left of every Finder window, or via the Finder's Connect to Server... option from the Go menu. Then, in SecuritySpy, go to Preferences -> Cameras -> Setup and use the Capture Destination option to set cameras to capture to the NAS.
Most NAS devices support AFP, including devices from Qnap, Synology, Drobo, and Netgear.
What specification computer do I need?
This depends on many factors. Our System Requirements Calculator will give a reasonable recommendation.
How can I connect multiple FireWire webcams?
Uncompressed FireWire webcams are not recommended for use with SecuritySpy.
Due to (typically) low quality optical systems, bandwidth issues and cable length limitations, they are a poor choice for video surveillance, therefore we don't support using these cameras with SecuritySpy, and advise you against it. The below guidance is provided for your information only and is not a recommendation.
Some FireWire webcams such as the Unibrain Fire-i have two ports, so you can daisy-chain multiple cameras together. The cameras would then be in a long line all attached to one FireWire port. With cameras that have only one FireWire connector, you can use a FireWire hub (or several FireWire hubs). A FireWire hub is a device with one input and several outputs, allowing you to connect several devices to one port.
There is a limit to the number of cameras that can be connected due to bandwidth limitations. Mac computers typically have two FireWire ports sharing one controller (bus), so the bandwidth is shared between the ports. To increase the amount of FireWire bandwidth available you can add FireWire buses to your computer using PCI cards (or Cardbus Cards on a laptop). PCI FireWire cards are available with up to 6 ports per card (although typically multiple ports will share the same bus).Generally, with a frame rate of 30fps, it is possible to use up to 8 cameras running at 320x240 or 3 cameras running at 640x480 on one FireWire 400 bus. If however you are using the (now discontinued) Apple iSight cameras, it is only possible to use 4 cameras at 320x240 or one camera at 640x480. It is normally possible to reduce the frame rate of the cameras in SecuritySpy, thereby reducing the bandwidth used and increasing the number of cameras that can be connected to one bus. Most FireWire cameras support 15fps (the iSight camera supports 15fps, 7.5fps and 3.75fps).
Can SecuritySpy run before login on Mac OS X?
No, any application with a user interface, such as SecuritySpy, needs to be run within a user account. An alternative is the following:
- Set your user account to log in automatically, under Login Options in the Users & Groups system preference.
- Select the user account on the left of the Users & Groups window, and click the Login Items tab at the top of the window.
- Drag the SecuritySpy application into this list of login items, to have it open automatically.
- To make the computer go back to the login screen automatically, download this login script application and also drag it into the list.
With this setup, the Mac logs in automatically, opens SecuritySpy, and then returns to the login screen. SecuritySpy continues to run in the account, behind the login screen.
For added security, you can create a special non-admin account specifically for running SecuritySpy, and use the above method to automatically run SecuritySpy in this background account upon startup of your Mac. However, there are two limitations with this method:
- The system refuses access to USB and built-in cameras to background user accounts, so these devices won't work.
- The system limits CPU resources to background user accounts, so you may experience poor performance.
Which SecuritySpy licenses do I need to purchase for streaming video from one computer to another?
This FAQ covers the situation where you have SecuritySpy running on one computer with its web server enabled acting as a network video server, sending video to another computer running SecuritySpy, which is receiving and recording the video. This setup is described in the user manual section SecuritySpy as remote viewing software.
Each license of SecuritySpy is for a single computer only, so for each computer from which you are streaming, and for each computer on which you are receiving and recording video, you will need a license of SecuritySpy.
For example, in a situation where you have four iMac computers with built-in cameras, sending video back to a central computer that is recording the video, you will need four single-camera licenses of SecuritySpy for the iMacs and one four-camera license of SecuritySpy for the central computer.If however you are using SecuritySpy simply to view (not capture) the video streams being sent from another computer running SecuritySpy, you do not need to purchase a second license for the viewing computer - SecuritySpy is free for this purpose.
I don't see my network device in your list of supported devices - will it work with SecuritySpy?
Most likely it will. SecuritySpy supports all industry-standard formats (JPEG over HTTP, and JPEG/MPEG-4/H.264 over RTSP). SecuritySpy also supports the ONVIF protocol, which makes setting up any compliant device very easy. New network cameras and video servers are being released regularly and while we try to confirm support for new devices as they are released, there may be some that are not yet on our supported device list. If you don't see your camera on our official list of supported cameras, please email us to ask about support.
Can SecuritySpy capture to a cloud service such as Dropbox?
Yes, SecuritySpy can capture to most cloud services, including:
These cloud services all work by using a local folder on your Mac's drive that is automatically synchronised to the cloud. For each camera that you want to store on the cloud, set its Capture Destination to a folder within this special location, and all the captured footage will be automatically uploaded. Note however that you may need an internet connection with a fast upload speed in order to cope with the amount of data being generated (depending on your capture settings and number of cameras).
Can SecuritySpy capture screenshots from the computer's screen(s)?
Yes, with the SecuritySpy Screen Capture Pack.
Can SecuritySpy capture from a Windows PC webcam or screen?
Yes, with the AbelCam webcam software for Windows. In AbelCam, the web server feature must be enabled as well as the Screen Capture option (if required). In SecuritySpy (version 2.0 or later), add a new network device and select the AbelCam option in the Device type list.
Is there an iPhone or iPad app for SecuritySpy?
Yes - we produce our own SecuritySpy iOS app for iPhone and iPad.
In addition, Remote Patrol is a fully-featured app that is easy to use; simply enter the SecuritySpy server address details, and Remote Patrol will automatically detect and import all available cameras and relevant settings.
There's also Spyglass, which has a sleek user interface and great feature set.
Is there an Apple TV app for SecuritySpy?
Yes - we produce our own SecuritySpy tvOS app for Apple TV.
Is there an Android app for SecuritySpy?
We recommend the tinyCam Monitor app. To set up a camera in the tinyCam app: add a new camera, set the Vendor to Mac and the Model to SecuritySpy, enter the IP address, port and username/password of your SecuritySpy server, and in Advanced Settings set the channel number to a SecuritySpy camera number. In this way you can add multiple cameras to be viewed by the app for live video streaming. Alternatively, the IP Cam Viewer app also supports live video and audio streaming from SecuritySpy.
Is SecuritySpy's web interface compatible with a Windows PC?
Yes, provided QuickTime is installed on the PC. All features are available, including playing captured footage and viewing live video and audio.
How can I view live video from more than 6 cameras simultaneously using a web browser?
This is an unfortunate limitation in certain web browsers (including Chrome and Safari), where they limit the number of simultaneous connections to any server. To view more cameras simultaneously, you can do one of the following:
from the popup menu in the main web interface page)
• Use FireFox, which has an adjustable limit
• Use another copy of SecuritySpy, which is free for the purposes of remote viewing
In FireFox, the limit is set to 6 simultaneous connections by default, but can be adjusted in the following way:
Type "about:config" in the address bar in FireFox
and press return.
Find the entry for network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server.
Double-click this and increase the setting to the number of camera feeds you want to display simultaneously.
How do I set up a multi-stream Vivotek network camera in SecuritySpy?
These cameras have two or more streams that can be set with different parameters such as compression and video size.
Firstly, connect to the camera using Safari or some other web browser (type the camera's IP address into the browser's address bar and press return). Locate the Video Settings page (Audio and video on some models) - there you will see configuration options for the streams (note that the camera may have an "advanced" and "basic" mode for the settings - you will need to be in advanced mode).
Choose a stream to use with SecuritySpy (usually the first stream), and set your desired stream parameters (for example, H.264 at the highest resolution with a medium-high quality). Then, in SecuritySpy, open the Video Device Settings window, add a new network device, select the Vivotek Multi-Stream option, enter the camera's IP address, select the input number corresponding to the video stream number you set up in the camera, and select the Format that you set for the stream in the camera (JPEG, MPEG-4 or H.264).
How do I move SecuritySpy from one computer to another, retaining all settings?
All settings are stored in the SecuritySpy Preferences file, which is located in the ~/Library/Preferences/ folder (within your user folder). The file will also have an appended version number (for example "v71"). Simply copy the file with the highest version number to the same location on the second computer.
Then, either copy the SecuritySpy application to the second computer (it is in your Applications folder), or download and install the correct version from our web site:
Make sure to delete or unregister SecuritySpy on the first computer, otherwise you will have licensing problems if both copies of the software are run at the same time. To unregister SecuritySpy: open it, select "Registration..." from the SecuritySpy menu, and click the Unregister button.
If you are running Mac OS X 10.7 or later, the Library folder is hidden. To open it, hold the alt key while clicking the Finder's Go menu, and select the Library option in that menu. Then navigate to the Preferences folder within this Library folder, where you will find the SecuritySpy Preferences file.
How do I reset SecuritySpy's master password?
This is the password you set in the Preferences window for limiting access to settings and camera activation. The only way to reset this password is to erase SecuritySpy's preferences - unfortunately this will erase all settings and SecuritySpy will have to be set up again.
Firstly, if SecuritySpy is currently running, press cmd-alt-esc, choose SecuritySpy from the list in the window that pops up, and click the "Force Quit" button. This will force SecuritySpy to quit (it won't quit normally without the password). If you have enabled the option in the Preferences window to automatically restart SecuritySpy after a crash, it will open itself automatically again - hold down the cmd and alt keys before it loads. Otherwise, open SecuritySpy yourself while holding the cmd and alt keys. SecuritySpy will ask you if want to erase the preferences - click Yes.
Can SecuritySpy capture audio without video?
SecuritySpy is designed to capture video and audio together. However, a good solution for audio-only capture is to install our "dummy" video input components. Download the dummy video input components.
These components simulate video inputs, allowing you to capture movies with that have an audio track and a blank video track. The download expands to a folder called "Dummy Video Inputs" that contains 16 component files, allowing up to 16 dummy inputs. Copy one or more of these component files to the /Library/Components/ folder on your computer to install them. Quit and re-load SecuritySpy and it will automatically detect and use these extra video inputs.
Does SecuritySpy integrate with home automation systems?
How can I fix a damaged QuickTime movie file?
Although SecuritySpy has features to minimise the chance of data corruption, if there is a power cut during recording there is a chance that this will damage the movie files that are currently being captured. In this case you can try our Movie Fixer utility software to try to fix the damaged QuickTime movie files.
Why can't I play back captured files in a web browser?
SecuritySpy produces two types of movie file, depending on your settings:
MP4 Movie File
These files are produced when the video codec is H.264 and the audio codec (if audio is present) is AAC. The file extension for these files is .m4v.
QuickTime Movie File
These files are produced when the video or audio codec is anything else (e.g. JPEG or MPEG-4 for video, PCM or μLaw for audio). The file extension for these files is .mov.
Most modern browsers will only play back MP4 files, so if you are having trouble playing back any movie file in your browser, check the file extension: if it's .mov, this is most likely the cause of the problem.
To change your settings so that you get MP4 files:
If the camera is sending any video format except H.264, enable the Recompress video data option under Preferences -> Cameras -> Device, and set H.264 as the video compression under Preferences -> Compression.
If the camera is sending any audio format except AAC, enable the Recompress audio data option under Preferences -> Cameras -> Device, and set AAC as the video compression under Preferences -> Compression.
You can check which video and audio formats are being sent by the camera from the Camera Info window.
Can I run SecuritySpy on a headless Mac?
Yes, though without a monitor, the Mac will most likely turn off its video hardware acceleration, which can have a big negative impact upon performance, especially with any of SecuritySpy's video windows open. Therefore, we would strongly recommend attaching a dummy monitor adaptor ("dongle"), that fools your Mac into thinking there is a real monitor attached. If your Mac has an HDMI port, a suitable dongle is the CompuLab Display Emulator, or for a Mac with a Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort, you can use the NewerTech Headless Mac Video Accelerator (or you can build one yourself).
What resolution do I need for my cameras?
Cameras are available with a wide range of resolutions, from standard-definition to many megapixels. Choosing the right resolution for your particular application is important: too low and you won't be able to see important details in your images; too high and you are wasting recording capacity, processing resources, and money.
The number of pixels you need for your cameras depend on what you want to capture, how far away it is, and the focal length of the camera's lens. This is not easy to calculate, but there are some tools to help you with this, such as the useful ViDiLabs Calc iOS app.
Remember though, overall image quality is not only about resolution: other factors such as optical quality and low-light sensitivity are extremely important. Beware of cheap cameras that tout impressively-high pixel counts; you may be disappointed with their image quality.