9 Apps to Keep You Healthy on Your Mac

How many hours do you spend in front of your Mac each day? The internet is where we find our entertainment and where we go to work. It’s easy to lose track of how much time you’ve spent sitting in front of the screen, and if that number gets to be a big number of hours per day, then you ought to change a few habits, don’t you think?

Today we’ll be showing you a few apps for minimizing bad habits with your computer usage. We’ve got it all: apps that remind you to take a break once in a while from your computer, apps that help you stay focused on your tasks so that you can have more time for yourself, and utilities for reducing eye strain. Let’s do this!

Take a Break!

Awareness

Awareness is an app that sets a timer in your menu bar, counting the time you’ve been active in your computer. Once you reach a specific period of time without taking a break, the sound of a bowl will play, reminding you that it’s time to step away for a while. If the app doesn’t detect activity in your computer after a set period of time, the timer will reset; however, if you keep working without taking a break, the next time the timer goes off, the sound of the bowl will be played twice, and so forth.

It’s a nice tool for staying “aware” of how much non-stop time you’ve spent at the computer. The app even includes a link to a website where you can find some useful ideas on how to take advantage of your breaks.

Price: Free

Requires: OS X 10.6 or later.

Developer: Future Proof

Time Out Free

Time Out is similar to Awareness, but it’s a bit more intricate. It includes a GUI for announcing breaks and postponing them, and it also changes a few of the mechanics for keeping you away from the computer. For example, it uses a combination of shorter and longer breaks to avoid stress.

It’s a nice app that goes beyond what Awareness offers, but it can get a little intrusive at times. I much prefer the simplicity of Awareness, but if you’d like to try an app that’s more elaborate, Time Out is a cool alternative.

Price: Free

Requires: OS X 10.5 or later

Developer: Dejal Systems

BreakTime

If you’re willing to spend a few more bucks for a better designed app that’ll give you an overall richer experience, BreakTime is what you are looking for. It fulfills the same purpose as the other two apps, but it is better thought out, and it feels like a smarter and finely built app. For example, it notifies you before your break is due, so that you can finish what you’re doing before being locked out of your screen. As the developer says, “it’s the little things”.

Price: $4.99

Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later

Developer: Excited Pixel

Focus!

Focusbar

Focusbar is as simple as an app can get: you tell it the task you’re working on, and it will constantly remind you of it every time you switch windows or after a set period of time. It’s not for everyone, as some will find it annoying, but for the few of us that get distracted easily, it’s nice to have it pat you in the back once in a while and tell you, “Hey! Remember we’re working? Good.”

Price: Free

Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later

Developer: Macoscope

Houdini

Houdini automatically hides apps that haven’t been used in a while in your computer, so that you can stay focused and free of distractions from other things that aren’t relevant to what you’re doing at the moment. It’s very customizable, you can set a different timer for each app given how you interact with it.

Price: Free

Requires: OS X 10.6 or later

Developer: UglyApps

Mindful Mynah

As you can guess by its name, this is an app that helps you be more mindful of your computer usage, and it does so by ringing a bell every set period of time (15 minutes is the default). You can lose track of time really easily while you’re on the computer, so this works as a very simple, barebones solution to making you conscious of how much time you’ve spent procrastinating, working, or just sitting down in front of your computer.

Price: $1.99

Requires: OS X 10.6 or later

Developer: Rich Henderson

Be Kind to your Eyes

f.lux

f.lux might seem like a strange app at first, but once you start using it you won’t let it go. It works by automatically dimming your screen to a “warmer” color at night, making it easier on your eyes and helping you avoid sleep problems, eye strain, headaches, and all other sorts of wonderful things that can come from staring at your screen too much at night.

Price: Free

Requires: OS X 10.5 or later

Developer: f.lux

Work Smarter

If you want to maximize your productivity so that you can have more free time, you might want to start setting some boundaries around how you use your tools. This could be any kind of self-imposed rule for your workflow such as “No social networking until 8 PM” or “Only check email once a day”. Otherwise, you could adhere to a popular productivity method, such as Getting Things Done.

I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique works well for me because of the way it’s setup: 25 minutes of work, and then a 5 minute break. This not only keeps me focused, but it also guarantees that out of every hour I spend working, 10 minutes of it will not be spent close to a computer. And with certain tools that I’ve recently reviewed, such as Tomatoes and Eggscellent, using this technique is quite easy and even a little fun.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, having the right tools will not immediately make you healthier or more conscious of how you’re using technology. There should be an effort on your part regarding how much you want to let your gadgets interfere with your life. These tools we presented to you today can help you be more conscious, healthy and productive, but ultimately what you do with them or with the free time you’ll save is entirely up to you.

So, what are you gonna do with them? Do you have any other apps that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.


  • bob

    man just tried it, it makes everything orange – doesn’t feel easier on my eyes at all – and i have migraines and MAV. better for me to just turn down the brightness. deleted it within 10 min.

    • Andy

      Use f.lux for a week and you’ll wonder what you did before that.

      • http://portfolio.bemyself.pt Miguel

        True story !

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