Anti-Distraction Apps: Keep Yourself On Task

It seems that most Mac users hate distractions, but can easily be distracted. That’s why there are so many apps out there to keep you focused. Here are a couple anti-distraction apps that can help keep you focused.


Think 1.0 Features

This app has already been featured on MacApper, so you might be somewhat familiar with it. Think lets you focus on one application without getting distracted by the dock or other open applications. It accomplishes this by putting a solid color background that hides all but your selected application. There is a simple user interface bar that allows you to change the color of the background, as well as the level of transparency.

Pros: Think has a clean and unobtrusive user interface. It’s easy to change the background color and transparency preferences.

Cons: I only have two complaints about Think. First, you have to use its built-in application switcher to switch between applications. Otherwise, the background goes away and you’re back to distractionville. Second, there is no built-in keyboard shortcut for Think’s application switcher. You have to press a button on the application’s panel. For someone who uses Alt-Tab extensively, this is a problem.

Get Think.


Backdrop App

Backdrop is a similar app to Think. It will create a “backdrop” color of your choice that will hide applications under it. It has the added feature of allowing you to assign a background picture instead of a boring color. I find only marginal value in that feature since a picture would probably be…distracting.

Pros: This is the only anti-distraction app that I’ve seen with the option of having a background image. I suppose that might come in handy at some point.

Cons: Like Think, this app shows up in the Alt-Tab menu and on the Dock. Also, it does not isolate applications. For example, if you switch between a Safari window and your text editor, both windows remain above the “backdrop”. That kind of defeats the purpose of having the backdrop.

Get Backdrop.


Isolator App

Isolator is another app that will give you the solid color background and hides your desktop. However, unlike Think, Isolator is a menubar application. You can configure the background color and level transparency from its Preferences. Isolator is by far my favorite anti-distraction app.

Pros: It is a menu bar app, so there is no icon in the Alt-Tab menu, nor does it clutter up the Dock while it’s running. It also has the hotkey F8 assigned to turn the background on and off, a big plus.

Cons: The only downside I see about this app is that there is no option to set a background image.

Get Isolator.

Overall, each application offered the basic functionality of a background to hide all the stuff you don’t want to see. However, I think Isolator does it the best. Check them out and let me know what you think.


26 Responses to “Anti-Distraction Apps: Keep Yourself On Task”

  1. alej744 on February 21st, 2007 7:07 am

    This app is fun to play around with, because I think it was designed very nicely, but to me it seems useless. After having this app open for a while I realized it just wasn’t for me. Nice try though, Freeverse. Isolator def. looks like the best one.
    Link to MacUser Think post: [ ]

  2. John Baker on February 21st, 2007 8:24 am

    This was a great complement to my post right under this about PresentYourApps. Good timing!

  3. Richard Neal on February 21st, 2007 9:52 am

    The most useful anti-distraction app for me is MegaZoomer, a SIMBL plugin which basically lets you do the equivalent of the Windows maximize button, so you aren’t wasting all that screen real estate with some background.

  4. Rebby Brarbs on February 21st, 2007 9:54 am

    Glad you liked it! Thanks to the editors for making it beautiful!

  5. Rebby Brarbs on February 21st, 2007 10:01 am


    Does this zoomer app work when you need to have two windows up? For example, when I’m writing I have my outline/thoughts on the left in a text window and my article on the right…Would it work for that?

  6. Joseph L on February 21st, 2007 1:01 pm

    I think Backdrop’s ability to show an image is good for taking a screen shot of an app on the default Aqua wallpaper.

  7. Andre on February 21st, 2007 1:22 pm

    Or you could always just hide your dock and make the application as full screen as possible.. :)

  8. Indraneel on February 21st, 2007 6:37 pm

    i just turn my internet off whenever possible (ie. never ;-)

  9. Annie Martin on February 26th, 2007 9:48 am

    Desktopple is what I use ( It really helps keep me on task.

  10. Blog Mirrors » Download of the Day: Isolator (Mac) on February 26th, 2007 4:45 pm

    [...] Isolator [via MacApper] [...]

  11. Zach on February 26th, 2007 5:50 pm

    Think and isolator don’t seem to work on my MBP. However, Backdrop is pretty slick and works no problem.

  12. RazorSharp iPods & Raw Gadgets » Isolator: Think Again on February 28th, 2007 4:33 am

    [...] [Via MacApper] [...]

  13. Sara Wilson on April 5th, 2007 3:57 am

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  14. emma on April 9th, 2007 5:45 am

    cool blog!

  15. Timoty on April 16th, 2007 2:13 am

    cool blog!

  16. 5 Productivity Boosting Mac Apps | MacApper on August 30th, 2007 9:30 am

    [...] done each day must really be helping you get places. Applications to keep you focused have been featured here before, but I would like to give you my take on [...]

  17. Damien on August 30th, 2007 10:20 am

    I definitely agree with the recommendation for Isolator, it works very well and IMHO works better with OSX’s standards.

  18. curt on April 21st, 2008 2:49 pm

    I have used many apps to keep my focus and cut down on visual distraction. Currently I’ve settled 3 different applications to do this.

    1. Isolator
    to focus between apps
    2. Camouflage
    to hide the desktop
    3. Spirited Away 0.6 (works under tiger)
    to hide apps that I haven’t used in a few
    user defined moments

    And a 4th worth mentioning is the only app you have to pay for Sticky Windows which gives you tabs al la system 9 that can automatically open and close

    Plus you can use spaces multiple desktops

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