Remote Camera Viewing Software For Mac

04.08.2020by

Most users of IP cameras (network security cameras) want to access their camera remotely to see live video. Accessing cameras remotely from desktop software (Mac and Windows) and mobile apps (iPhone and Android) is extremely common for home owners and business owners.

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The most common way to enable remote viewing to IP cameras is by manually setting up port forwarding on the network router that the camera is connected to. UPnP (universal plug-and-play) is a newer method that is supported by some routers and cameras but is not as reliable in my experience. This article explains ports forwarding and dynamic DNS – two concepts to understand if you want to access security cameras remotely. Setting up port forwarding for multiple IP cameras is also covered.

Please note that although this article focuses on IP cameras, the process and concepts are the same for network video recorders and security camera DVRs.

Here is and explanation of how it works using the above network diagram to explain.

Network Diagram / Wiring Installation Explanation

  1. All of the devices on the right of the red line are on the local network where the camera is located.
  2. The laptop on the left of the red firewall is at a different location than the IP camera and not connected to the same network. The laptop on the left can be located anywhere in the world as long as it is connected to the Internet.
  3. The red line in the middle represents the firewall that separates the local network from Internet.
  4. The IP camera in the upper right is hard wired to a network router using CAT5 Ethernet cable.
  5. The laptop on the right is also hard wired to the same router.
  6. The network router is hard wired to the Internet modem using CAT5 Ethernet cable. This modem can be a cable, DSL, direct fiber, or any other type of high speed Internet modem.

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Connect to Camera on LAN

Before you setup port forwarding for remote access, you should first connect to your cameras on the LAN (local area network).

  1. Our IP camera is running on port 7000. Please note that different IP camera manufacturers use different default ports. Check your manual to confirm the port that your camera uses. Please note that you can change your camera’s port when you login to it.
  2. Typically, when you connect an IP camera to a router and power it on, the camera is assigned an IP address by the router. This is known as DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Our IP camera was assigned IP address 192.168.0.101. Most IP camera manufacturers have their cameras setup to use DHCP by default, but some have a static IP address assigned to their cameras. You need to check your camera’s manual to confirm. If you are unsure, plug your camera into your router and power it on. Most IP cameras include PC software to search your network for IP cameras. If yours does, run this software to locate the IP address of your camera and make note of it.
  3. Using a computer on the same network as your IP camera, login to your IP camera. IN our example, we are using a laptop on the local network with IP address 192.168.0.2. Most IP cameras have an interface that can be accessed via web browser. In our example, would enter the following address into the web browser of the laptop on the right. https://192.168.0.101:7000. If the address and port is correct, you will most likely be prompt for a user ID and password by your camera.
  4. Enter the default ID and password and you should see a live view of your camera or a configuration screen. Congratulations, you just accessed your camera on the LAN.

IP Reservation

After confirming that you can access the IP camera on the LAN (local area network), you should reserve that IP address specifically for your IP camera. By reserving an IP for your camera, if your router looses power or needs to be re-booted, that same IP will always be assigned. This is important because your port forwarding rule that you will setup will not work if the IP address of the camera changes. Consult with your router’s manual on how to setup IP reservations for your specific model.

Port Forwarding Setup / Network Setup

Port forwarding is what enables you to access your camera remotely over the Internet. In the above diagram, the red line represents the firewall provided by the router. Basically, no outside traffic is allowed into your network. When you setup a port forwarding rule, you create a controlled hole in your firewall.

To set port forwarding, login to your router and navigate to the port forwarding section of the interface. This will vary by make and model. You should consult your manual or search online for instructions.

In our example, we forward incoming requests on port 7000 to IP address 192.168.0.101 on port 7000. This allows access to your network, through your network firewall, (only on port 7000) and forwards all of those requests to your IP camera.

Test Remote Access

To confirm that port forwarding is setup properly, you must try to connect from a device that is not on the same network as your camera. If you are on-site where the camera is located, you can turn off the WIFI connection of your phone so that you connect over the cellular phone network.

  1. 207.5.23.205 is the IP address of the Internet connection in the above example. You can find out what your Internet IP address is by using accessing this page from any computer or mobile device on the network where your camera is located: What is my IP Address?
  2. If you have trouble accessing your camera, us this open port forwarding test tool to see if the port is properly open.

DDNS Setup for Dynamic IP Addresses

Contact your Internet service provider and ask them if your Internet connection has a static or dynamic IP address. If you are fortunate enough to have a static IP address, you can always access your camera remotely using the IP address of the Internet connection (207.5.23.205 in our example) where your camera is installed. If your Internet IP address is dynamic, you should setup a DDNS service to manage changes in your IP address.

DDNS Account Setup

  1. Create an account with a DDNS service provider. DynDNS and No-IP are two of the biggest service providers out there. At the time of this writing, DynDNS cost $40 per year and No-IP has a free account that requires that you login through a web browser once a month to keep it active. Some IP camera manufacturers provide their own DDNS service for free.
  2. After you setup an account with the DDNS provider of your choice, a connection to the service must be made from your IP camera, a PC on the same network, or in your router. Where you do this depends on which of your devices support the DDNS update service.
  3. When you setup your account, you will choose a hostname to use. For example, my-ip-camera.ddns.org. After DDNS is setup, you will use this hostname instead of your IP address to access your IP camera remotely.
  4. You can see these instructions on how to setup DDNS for Zavio IP cameras. Please note that not all IP cameras have this built-in. If yours does not, check to see if your router supports it or your last option is to install a DDNS client on a PC. Please note that if you choose the PC option, that PC must always be running.

How DDNS works

Here is how DDNS service works.

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  1. There is a service running on your IP camera (or network router or PC if you chose those options) that monitors the IP address of your Internet connection.
  2. When the service detects a change, it contacts the DDNS provider and updates them with the new IP address.
  3. The DDNS provider updates the record for your hostname with the new IP address.

The result is that whenever you access your camera remotely using the DDNS hostname (my-ip-camera.ddns.org is my example), the request is always routed to the correct IP address.

Port Forwarding Multiple IP Cameras

Suppose you want to enable remote access for more than one IP camera. The IP cameras are the same brand, maybe even the same model – so they use the same port. This is how you can setup port forwarding for multiple IP cameras running on the same port.

Here is the same diagram that was used in the first explanation except a second IP camera was added to the network. Everything is setup the same way with the following additions and notes.

  1. The second IP camera is assigned LAN IP address 192.168.0.102.
  2. The second IP camera uses the same port as the first one, 7000.
  3. The port forwarding on the router is configured to forward port 7001 to the second IP camera at address 192.168.0.102 on port 7000.

You see that the external Internet port does not need to match the internal LAN port that you setup forwarding to on your router.

Alternatively, you could change the port that the second IP camera uses in the IP camera’s settings. For example, you could switch the second IP camera to use port 7001 instead of 7000. I have personally found that it is easier to manage if you keep all of you IP cameras on their default ports and setup unique forwarding ports, as described in the above digram.

What is Port Forwarding?

If you would like further explanation of port forwarding, please watch this video.

Remote access to Mac, anywhere
Get Screens and work across multiple remote Macs.

While many countries are on a lockdown due to COVID-19, remote work is becoming a lifestyle. Remotely accessing a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has spent a lot of time ensuring anyone can log in to their Macs — both desktop and laptop — from any other Mac device, anywhere. And, besides, there are a variety of third-party apps ready to help with that too.

Still, remotely managing their Mac sounds overly complicated to a lot of people. From how you connect to sharing files or screens to using your Apple device as a remote mouse, we want to demystify the process in the easy-to-follow guide below.

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There are times when you want to access your Mac remotely, and there are many different solutions to remote access your Mac. Best utilities in one pack, give it a go!

How to access your Mac from another location

There're two ways: you can allow remote login to your Mac from another computer, or allow others to access your computer using Remote Desktop (it's available from the App Store).

Allow remote login to your Mac from another computer

For devices using the same macOS, you can allow remote Mac login using a Secure Shell (SSH). This enables Mac remote desktop access using a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).

To set up Remote Login:

  • Go to System Preferences > Sharing
  • Select Remote Login.
  • Choose which users you want to have remote access or the ability to control your Mac.

You can either select All Users, which means any other device on your network, or any Mac you own, can access and connect, or click the plus sign to pick the exact users.

When you want to remotely log in to your Mac from another device, you need to know your username (the name that appears when you login) and your computer's IP address. Write them down and keep them safe, as allowing access to your Mac does make it potentially less secure, especially over cellular or public Wi-Fi networks.

Accessing, controlling, or viewing information on your Mac can be done with a built-in Terminal or any other SSH app using your username and IP address.

Allow others to access your computer using Apple Remote Desktop

With macOS Sierra remote Mac access and control is even easier. To set up it:

  • Go to Menu > System Preferences > Sharing
  • Select Remote Management - it should appear as a checkbox.
  • Now you can select who has remote desktop access. Either select, All Users, which means any other device on your network, or Mac you own, can access and connect, or click the Add button(+), which gives you the ability to select who can have remote access and/or control.

If you are using a VPN or VNC viewer and want to access your Mac remotely, you will need to setup a password first. It is also possible to use iOS devices, such as an iPhone and iPad, through Apple Remote Desktop, available from the App Store.

How to stay on the same page with Screens

Collaboration has become of utmost importance to today's workplaces. And with more and more people working remotely, being on the same screen (ahem, page) is a must.

Screens allows you to work remotely with any computer regardless of your location. Whether you are on a business trip or traveling, stay confident knowing you can access any file on your home computer at any time.

This robust screen sharing tool for Mac supports:

  • Multiple displays
  • Drag-and-drop file sharing
  • Hiding your remote screen while accessing it
  • Accessing other computers (e.g. colleague's) as a guest
  • Alternative shortcuts (useful when connecting Mac to PC)
  • Custom actions in case of disconnection

To start using Screens, get the app from Setapp and configure the following:

  1. Remote login and remote management (as per the guide above)
  2. Install Screens Connect helper app and create a Screens ID on every machine you'd like to connect to in the future
  3. Use your Screens ID in the Screens app and it will automatically determine which of your computers are available for connection

Remote desktop client for Mac

Control any computer remotely – a perfect way to access your Mac from anywhere without limitations.

Share files between devices

Today we have plenty of ways to send and share files. But ask someone to send something, and you are likely to get it through email. Due to the ubiquitousness of email, it's still the default method for file sharing, despite its obvious flaws and constraints.

Fortunately, there are much better ways:

Native macOS File Sharing

Few people know that their Mac has native file sharing functionality built in. To use this feature, activate it in the Sharing pane of System Preferences by checking File Sharing. If you only want to share specific folders, add them to the Shared Folders list. If you only want specific users to access the folder, add them to its Users list. Otherwise, everyone will be able to access it.

AirDrop

Although not the most reliable solution, AirDrop works fine for occasional sharing a file between Apple devices. In the Finder, choose Go and then AirDrop on both the sending and receiving Mac. As soon as you see the receiver's user icon, drag the desired file onto it to send.

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Read more about how to use AirDrop

Dropshare

If you don't want to send files Mac-to-Mac directly but rather through a cloud storage, there is no easier way than Dropshare. The app works with numerous cloud providers, from Dropbox to Google Drive, and saves your files for sharing by simply dragging them onto its menu bar icon.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

The most technical but also the most robust way to share files from your mac is to use FTP, which you could do either through Terminal or an FTP Client, the latter being much more user friendly.

There are a few popular FTP clients one could choose from. The robust file managing app ForkLift covers most of the FTP functionality but takes it to the next level and could be a viable replacement for the Finder altogether with its quick search, instant previews, and file comparison.

DCommander is another full-featured file transfer app for Mac that combines speed and reliability, able to handle thousands of files, schedule backups, and even automate transfers.

At last, when it comes to sharing the same files on different devices, an app like ChronoSync Express becomes invaluable.

ChronoSync Express is powerful tool for sharing and transferring files from Mac to Mac, or any another Apple device. With a feature called Synchronizer Document, you can select which files need to be automatically synchronized and shared between devices, just like that:

  1. Create a new synchronizer document for each folder synchronization you'd like to perform
  2. Name the synchronization
  3. Change the Operation to Synchronize Bidirectional
  4. Select folders to sync on the left and right
  5. Test with a Trial Sync

Do you need to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?

Whether you are working on your Mac directly, logging into your Mac remotely, or sharing access with someone else, security should be on top of your mind.

As a rule of thumb, you should always use a VPN when connected to a public Wi-Fi network, as someone could log in and see the information you send just as easily as you do.

And with remote access — even in the View Only mode — someone can see every file and document on your Mac, except those that are password protected. Unfortunately, if you leave passwords in a visible document, you expose yourself to immense risks.

A secure VPN client for Mac like Shimo is well worth using to stop unwanted eyes from lurking around, especially if you are sharing sensitive files, financial records or customer data.

However, for extra peace of mind and security, consider firing up your VPN automatically on all networks you are not 100% sure about to keep your emails, bank accounts and personal documents safe.

To share your Mac with someone else, download a remote Virtual Network Computing (VNC) app like Jump Desktop. With full remote access and Mac remote control, the other person — or yourself connecting to another Mac — can have the same level of control as the person using that device. Except for Admin level access, since it's password protected.

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Starting with Jump Desktop is easy: either yourself (gaining access) or the person you are giving a remote view or control access to your Mac, needs to add details of the device and the password.

Secure your access with VPN

Get a VPN client for Mac to avoid privacy infringement while connecting remotely. It's secure and free to try.

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Once permission is granted at the other end, remote Mac screen sharing or control (whereby you can use the iOS device as a remote mouse) becomes possible.

How to use your iOS device as a remote mouse

If your remote work starts on a patio hammock somewhere in east Asia, you should note that Apple iOS devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, can be used to control a Mac remotely, much like a mouse can control a desktop or laptop. Apps that make this possible work on VNC.

Remote Mouse is the easiest, most effective way to turn your iOS device into a wireless remote control for your Mac.

Although remote access through a local network would be most effective, since the closer you are to the device the quicker the connection, it's also possible from anywhere in the world, providing the network is secure and fast enough.

Setting up and granting access to the iOS device is the same process as when someone wants to access using a Mac. Except you need to give them a password. And make sure it is different from your primary Mac or iOS (App Store) one.

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So working together or checking on your devices can be done from anywhere in the world and there are lots of ways to do that, from sharing screens and files to having complete access to a system set up far away. Setapp equips you with all the apps needed to remotely access any device you need and elevate your work to the global level.

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