Recording Conversations Remotely From a MacBook
By Ellis Davidson
Most desktop and laptop computers have built-in microphones that can be used to record ambient conversations in their immediate vicinity. These microphones can be controlled remotely from a MacBook after setting up the computer to allow for remote connections. This will display the recording software on screen, making it clear that recording is taking place.
Set up a laptop or desktop computer in the vicinity of the area where you wish to record a conversation. Check to ensure that the computer has an internal microphone or has an external microphone connected to the microphone or USB port.
Launch the computer's audio recording software to ensure that it is working properly. On a Windows computer, the application is named Sound Recorder. On a Mac, the application is named QuickTime X.
Turn on remote access for this computer. On a Windows machine, this can be found in the Remote Access control panel. On a Mac, turn on Screen Sharing in the Sharing preference pane.
Connect to the computer over a local area network or over the Internet. Use the Screen Sharing application to connect to a remote Mac computer. Screen Sharing is included with OS X and is located in the /System/Library/CoreServices/ folder. To connect to a Windows computer, use the Remote Access application included with Microsoft Office 2011 or a VNC (virtual network computing) app.
Activate the recording software on the remote computer and create a new recording. Save the document to the remote computer when you are finished recording.
If you do not have Microsoft Office 2011 on your MacBook, you can access a Windows computer's screen from a Mac by installing VNC software on both computers; VNC is an open standard and many free and paid applications are available for both Windows and Macs.
Recording an audio conversation without the knowledge of the other parties is illegal in many states and jurisdictions, so do not attempt this without alerting people near the remote computer that they are being recorded.
Ellis Davidson has been a self-employed Internet and technology consultant, entrepreneur and author since 1993. He has written a book about self-employment for recent college graduates and is a regular contributor to "Macworld" and the TidBITS technology newsletter. He is completing a book on self-employment options during a recession. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.