Isolator: Minimize distractions while you work

Computers these days are wonderful; thanks to the joys of multi-tasking you can happily have ten apps open at once. There’s an argument, though, that humans work better when focusing on one task at a time, with minimal distractions.

The rather nice WriteRoom took this message to heart, giving you a full-screen word processor that’s just green text on a black screen. No frills, no distraction.

Recently a vaguely related app caught my eye: Isolator. Rather than being a simplified version of a word processor, Isolator is a free menu bar app that hides the windows of all applications except the one you’re using. You can even hide the Dock. (It would be nice if you could hide the menu bar too, and have it fade in when you move the mouse to the top of the screen. Maybe in the next version?) It’s easy to flip Isolator on and off when required with a key combo.

You can hide all other windows behind a completely black background:

…or you can customize the isolation effect in different ways. Here I’ve made the tint effect slightly transparent and added a blur filter:

Isolator is a nice way to block out distracting apps while you concentrate on the task at hand. I often find myself wandering off to check my mail in Mail, surf the web in Firefox or play with my iTunes playlists, and Isolator helps me avoid these apps and keep on track.

One slight problem is that many of the apps I use – Terminal, Firefox, TextEdit – tend to have multiple windows open at once, and Isolator can’t hide inactive windows within an app. So it’s quite hard to get it down to just one window along the lines of WriteRoom.

Having said that, Isolator is a handy little app, and it’s free to boot. If, like me, you’re easily distracted, then this might just help boost your productivity!

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2 Responses to “Isolator: Minimize distractions while you work”

  1. WetcoastBob Says:

    MenuShade does just what you want with the menu. Check it out.


  2. Matt Says:

    Thanks Bob, but when I tried MenuShade it dimmed my menu for about 3 seconds, then crashed. This is on 10.5.5. I guess it doesn’t work with Leopard?