Is there a simple way to know an "average person" have physically accessed your Macbook at work or at home?

Of course, I can use a keylogger or an app to record what is going on the screen or using a webcam, but the downsides are huge. Reviewing all the pressed keystrokes will be a very hard work. And recording the screen or the webcam means shortening SSD lifespan, and also Macbooks highlight the webcam when it works.

Maybe there are other, "think-out-of-the-box", solutions? (And no, I cannot simply install the password.)

  • 1
    What stops you from having a strong password only you know and making sure you lock the screen before walking away from the Mac?
    – nohillside
    May 15 at 14:09
  • 4
    Technology is a bad substitute for social problems. Setting the lock timeout to a minute should solve the locking problem, but if your girlfriend knows your password, it obviously won‘t help. Having said that: can check /var/log/system.log, but given your comment above I‘m not sure knowing that somebody accessed your Mac will do any good.
    – nohillside
    May 15 at 14:30
  • 7
    You don’t have a tech problem, you have a social interpersonal one. Either enable the password and deal with the fallout or bring your Mac with you everywhere so it’s always in your control.
    – Allan
    May 15 at 14:45
  • 1
    The 'last' command may be useful
    – hym3242
    May 15 at 23:39
  • 1
    If you discover that she has been accessing your Mac, what will you do then? Lock her out now, and then have the conversation about boundaries, privacy, and equal respect. As said: this is not a tech problem.
    – benwiggy
    May 16 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


I wouldn’t worry about SSD wear, Apple specs devices with extreme durability and extra capacity.

Get security software like a logger or a screen capture if you want the best chance of surveillance.

For an average person, physical surveillance is also very effective. Control where you leave the device and set up cameras or sound recorders so you can know who comes and goes. Set up a guest account you don’t use and look at activity logs and energy use on the Mac after it’s been unattended. (Same trick works for your main account, too.)


To answer my own question. The best technical solution I currenlty see is to install an app (or maybe to write a script, using FFmpeg, for example) that will take a single webcam capture: ...

  • about 5 seconds after logging in
  • about 5 seconds after opening Macbook

That is, when I leave home, I log out, leaving my Macbook with the 1234 password, which both my girlfriend and I know. Or I simply close it. When I return home, I log in or open it, and the script makes a capture.

  • Please include a sample script and basic instructions to replicate so your future self or any user with a similar need can accomplish this.
    – CodeCamper
  • @CodeCamper Of course, as soon as I will have time to write such a script. (I just started to dig this.) Here are two links that seem to be useful: superuser.com/q/486815 and blog.petehouston.com/…
    – jsx97

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