3 Mac apps to help you concentrate

by Milind Alvares

3 Mac apps to help you concentrate

by Milind Alvares on April 20, 2009

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think-macThe Mac user environment can get quite crowded at times. You have twitter feeds, iChat windows, icons on your desktop, and working on a single task seems impossible. Some apps attempt to take this full screen, but that’s not the solution to the problem.

Personally speaking, I think OS X is fairly capable of handling messy desktops. We have Stacks to solve the issue of a crowded desktop. Spaces helps you organise your windows into separate groups. I’m also very used to the Cmd+Option+Click on any dock icon, which hides all apps and windows while focussing on the one you just clicked. But, for those who want a forced environment, which will make sure your procrastinating (means twittering) days are over, here are a bunch of them that will help you out.


A very simple app, which makes you focus on one single task at a time. Upon launch, you select which app you want to ‘think’ upon (get it?!). Once that app is loaded (its icon shows inside the Think icon in your dock), you can’t see what’s in the background. Just your dock, menubar, and the application. Clicking anywhere outside the app will result in nothing.

The beauty is that it doesn’t take away anything from your work environment. You can still use Exposé, Spaces, and drag/drop files. You can even bring up another app inside this space by clicking the dock icon. You can also change the backdrop opacity so that you can see what’s going on behind your window. My only problem is it doesn’t have a ‘no think’ mode, so if you want to work around freely for a bit, you have to quit the app.

A free app, Think is worth a try.



Very similar to Think, but so different in the way it works, Isolator also covers up your desktop and lets you focus on a single app. However, you cannot bring up another app into the mix. The moment you Cmd+Tab, it’s focus changes to the next app. Isolator is less forceful than Think.

Isolator allows you not only to cover up your desktop, but adjust transparency as well as blur. You can also Hide the background apps if you choose (otherwise they’re just covered).

Also a free app and well featured if Think is not your cup of tea.


The no fuss application, Backdrop will just cover up your desktop with a full screen of whatever colour you wish. You can only Cmd+Tab between applications to switch focus. You can even use an image as a backdrop if you want to do something like take screenshots. However, Backdrop works a little differently from the other apps mentioned above. It has no ‘focus’. It’s basically an application with a window filled with one single colour. The moment you start clicking around, you will find all kinds of apps coming up in the foreground. Click Backdrop and they all disappear.


Drifting away from its core functionality, you can run a pixel test to find or fix any dead/stuck pixels. A free app, Backdrop might just be your cup of tea, although I’d say the other two are more focussed on the task at hand.

Hopefully that brings you some peace in your otherwise busy workspace. Apart from using the said methods to manage my workspace, I do use Think on occasion. It’s when I find I need to complete a project, and twitter + internet just doesn’t seem to let go of me.

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