Use DropBox and Hazel to Bust the Scumbag Who Steals Your MacBook

hazel and dropbox to secure your mac

If someone stole your Mac, that would stink, to put it mildly. Not only would you be out an expensive piece of equipment, but your sensitive data might be accessible to the criminal who stole your gear. Using two free programs, you can not only remotely secure your Mac if it is stolen, but you can bust the loser who pilfered it. A combination of Hazel, Dropbox, and a bit of geek kung fu allows you to record the crook’s IP address, snap a screenshot of him, record his browsing history, disable automatic login, and lock the stolen machine.

Hazel is a program ($21.95) that automatically watches folders, and performs actions on them according to rules that you create. For example, you can use it to keep your desktop clean, by automatically moving older photo or video files into designated folders after a set period of time. Dropbox is an app that keeps a main folder, and subfolders, in sync across computers.

The idea behind the Hazel process is that it monitors a file in your Dropbox folder. If your computer is stolen, you can go to your Dropbox account from any other computer, and change the name of that file to something that you preconfigure in Hazel. Hazel will recognize the changed name, and start firing off commands. It use your Mac’s camera to take a screenshot of the person  using your Mac, and uploads the image to your Dropbox. It will log the IP address of the crook, and copy your Safari history and last Internet session details to your Dropbox. It will mute the computer, snap a screenshot, and then restore the volume, all using Automator. Finally, it will disable automatic login (assuming you have it enabled), and lock the screen to prevent any further use of the machine.

For full details, and to get the script, check out Tech Blog /via Dirt Don. I first heard about the possibility of using Hazel and Dropbox this way on the Mac Power Users Podcast, and then a Google search led me to Dirt Don’s blog.

How do you secure your computers from theft?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.

2 Comments:

  1. Neat! Would this work on the iPad too? Far to nickable…

Leave a Reply