By Mark L. Chambers

Security applications are available to track a stolen MacBook if the unthinkable happens: Your MacBook is stolen while you’re on vacation or on a business trip, and you know that the chances that it will be returned are next to nil. You’ve resigned yourself to replacing it (and all your data).

But wait! You might just receive an e-mail message on your desktop computer that tells you the Internet (IP) address of the thief or perhaps even the address where he or she is staying.

If this scenario sounds a little like a James Bond movie, you’ll be surprised to learn that several tracker applications are available for Mac OS X that will run invisibly on your laptop.

A tracker application can turn your MacBook into a transmitting beacon, broadcasting its current location and all the Internet information it can get to you — allowing you to alert police and apprehend the crook (who might be in the middle of creating an iPhoto library).

For example, GadgetTrak invisibly sends an e-mail to you each time your laptop is connected to the Internet. The e-mail outlines the network environment and physical location of your MacBook, using WiFi positioning. (Heck, your MacBook even takes surveillance photos using its FaceBook camera!)

GadgetTrak costs about $35 per year, which is pocket change for a corporate Road Warrior or design professional who depends on both the laptop and the irreplaceable data it contains.