In the wake of recent stories focusing on iCloud's Find My Mac/iPhone feature -- one positive and one negative -- it's worth noting that there are a number of different services to help locate or erase a lost Mac.

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TUAW profiles Undercover 5, a $49 service that uses GPS, a new keylogging feature in version 5, the FaceTime camera and a clever "Plan B" to fool technologically inept criminals:

After you've collected FaceTime pics, geolocations, screenshots, and keylog files (all shown automatically in your "Thief Report" section of the Undercover HQ center) you can quickly and simply submit all this information to the local police. But what's even cooler -- and a bit out of a Hollywood movie -- is that if the police can't recover the stolen Mac, you can always resort to Undercover's aptly named "Plan B."

Plan B allows you to launch a simulated hardware failure on your Mac so the thief has no choice but to take it into an Apple Store for repair. Once you track it to the Apple Store (or Best Buy or wherever) you then activate part two of plan B -- you tell the Mac to display a message on the screen saying the Mac has been stolen and the repair shop should hold onto it and call the police.

There's also Prey, an open source computer tracking service that offers both free and paid plans, though for users with a single device, the free plan may be sufficient.

Apple recommends and sells Computrace LoJack in its retail stores and online. The product promises to locate or erase a tracked computer or they'll pay $1,000. LoJack comes in 1-year and 3-year plans for $49 or $99 respectively.

Top Rated Comments

67952 Avatar
131 months ago
What's to stop someone from stealing a Mac, and on the first boot putting an install disc in and completely wiping the operating system?

If someone did that it would have no ties to anyone's iCloud and wouldn't be trackable or controllable.

Just saying, none of these services really protect you.

A firmware password. You can't wipe and reinstall the OS if you have a firmware password set.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Repo Avatar
131 months ago
A firmware password.

Does that protect against someone removing the HDD?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
inlinevolvo Avatar
131 months ago
How do you setup a firmware password?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macnerd93 Avatar
131 months ago
A firmware password. You can't wipe and reinstall the OS if you have a firmware password set.

you can quite easily bypass the master password. I had to do it on my old Power Mac G4 tower after the previous owner set one and forgot it as I wanted to upgrade from Jaguar to Tiger.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
noodlelegs Avatar
131 months ago
firmware password, boot camp questions

I have a couple questions:
Can someone explain more about this firmware password thing? Also, I usually run boot camp Windows 7 on my macbook pro. How do I protect that part of the computer? Will Undercover 5 work with both windows and os x?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brdeveloper Avatar
131 months ago
My Undercover license was eligible for the free upgrade. I'm glad I've only used Undercover in tests (not in a real stealing event).

The keylogger is a nice new feature in the version 5.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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