Minimize Distractions in OS X with HazeOver

Do you ever find with too many windows open on your Mac desktop you get easily distracted when you’re working? There are so many apps and web sites vying for attention on screen sometimes that it’s difficult to focus on one thing at a time. HazeOver is a simple but effective productivity tool that helps you focus on one task or window at a time.

HazeOver works by automatically highlighting the active app window in the foreground by dimming all of the background windows. If, like many people, you have multiple apps open at one time, Hazeover helps improve your concentration by focusing on one app at a time instead of trying to attend to things such as tweets, emails, instant chat messages and Facebook status updates at the same time. Used in collaboration with a project planning app such as LiquidPlanner, ProWorkflow, or Wrike, it can really help you focus on the tasks at hand.

How does HazeOver work?

HazeOver works by automatically highlighting an active window or app when you switch windows but the less you use a window, the more it will fade away into the background. You can configure the hazing intensity and speed from a soft dimming to a very dark background which pretty much eliminates all distractions. This can feel a bit odd at first until you get used to it and if HazeOver starts to annoy you, you can disable it easily via the Menu Bar.

HazeOver allows you to easily toggle it on and off via the Menu Bar.

HazeOver allows you to easily toggle it on and off via the Menu Bar.

HazeOver runs quietly in the background of OS X and when you switch to a different window, the application automatically fades over the previously used window.

There are very few options in HazeOver but you can select between instant switching between windows or smooth animation and choose the dimming intensity.

HazeOver doesn't have many options but you can control the dimming intensity to your liking.

HazeOver doesn’t have many options but you can control the dimming intensity to your liking.

You can also operate HazeOver using a keyboard shortcut to turn it on and off. Simply press Option, Shift, Command and H to turn HazeOver on and off: ⌥⇧⌘H.

HazeOver can be triggered using a keyboard shortcut too.

HazeOver can be triggered using a keyboard shortcut.

Access all areas

HazeOver can also use the OS X accessibility feature to instantly know when you switch between windows. HazeOver prompts you if you want to enable this feature but you can do it manually by going to “System Preferences”, “Security & Privacy”, “Accessibility”. You may then need to click the padlock symbol in the bottom left corner to make changes and you simply select enable “HazeOverDimmer” in the app list. Although this is is not essential, it does improve the way HazeOver works and integrates with OS X.

HazeOver has recently been updated so that you can control it with AppleScript. To do so, you must launch the AppleScript Editor app and select “File” > “New” menu and paste the following text into the script window: “Tell application “HazeOverDimmer” to set intensity to 70”. Simply then Select “Script” and then “Run” and HazeOver should automatically change the dimming intensity. To find out all the possible properties you can add to HazeOver just go to the AppleScript Editor library and “select “Show Package Contents” for HazeOver.

Maintain your focus

Hazeover feels like a snappier and more effective way of staying focused than minimizing windows which can get easily forgotten or constantly closing and opening applications which can be time consuming and inconvenient. Hazeover is also very useful for stopping popups within applications distracting you or if you simply want a gentler hue from your screen when working at night.

HazeOver would be especially useful for those people using more than one monitor to keep tabs on which is the active one. Also for those that use applications that have lots of inspectors and toolboxes, it helps shade them out so that the main window is the only one you’re focused on.

Conclusion

There’s very little to fault with HazeOver as it’s such a simple and effective application but it would be useful to be able to control which apps fade. For example, it would be nice to be able to specify apps that you don’t want to fade with some kind of blacklist that you don’t want HazeOver to touch.

HazeOver is not one of those apps that suddenly starts hogging RAM or sends your fans whirring when it kicks into action either and it does not slow down the amount of time it takes to switch between apps either even if they’ve faded into the background.

If you’re having trouble focusing on one task at once or you find that OS X sometimes overwhelms you with too many windows, HazeOver is a remarkably simple but effective way to help you focus. Combine it with a project management app and you’ll have a great setup for keeping you focused on your job.


Summary

Simple productivity app to help you focus

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