How to minimize distractions of OS X

In the last issue, we've raised defense lines against the Internet. Or, better said, protected the Internet from our inner zombie.

Let's try and picture this zombie right now. In case you've forgotten, the zombie mode is you when you are growing tired from your work and searching for an excuse to slack off. Being in the right mind, you have blocked access to all the cute kittens and Facebook reviews of new productivity apps for your inner zombie.

And now it's eyeballing the screen in search of anything to turn to (except for actual work)..

This is Microsoft Word for Windows actually,
but it is a great illustration of how distractive interfaces can be

Literally anything would do here, like an icon in the dock, or even in the menu bar. You'd be amazed how fascinating staring at your CPU usage can be given the lack of kittens. Not to mention the notifications. The notifications are able to derange a normal person, let alone a zombie.

As you've probably guessed by this point, there is just one key to success – get rid of as much stuff as possible. And I mean everything down to the bare essentials.


Notifications

This would be the first feature to get rid of. If you have no time to turn off notifications for all the apps individually, you can set up the Do Not Disturb mode, for example, from 7 a.m. to 6:59 a.m. Then if you somehow manage to wake up at this unearthly hour, you'll be able to witness all the OS X notification madness you've saved yourself from yesterday.

I've realized eventually that I'd like to keep the feedback from some of the background features. So I went through all applications in the settings menu and disabled all notifications apart from the required ones.


Notification center

Sadly there is no way to hide it. But you can disable its activation in the trackpad settings.

What about that icon in the menu bar? You can get rid of it, too, but you'd have to pay for this.


Menubar

Unfortunately, not all applications allow you to toggle the "Show in the menu bar" option. In result, your menu bar is starting to look like a garbage heap.

The Bartender is perfect for menu bar clearing.

Bartender (OS X app)

You can move some of the icons to an additional panel (opens via hotkey) or hide them forever.


Menu Eclipse is another possible solution. This is another paid software and unfortunately, the app still can't handle full-screen mode – the dimming strip stays in place. But anyway:

Menu Eclipse (OS X app)

Dims your menu bar (you can adjust transparency).


Dock

Now this is the most controversial one. Some users keep the dock visible, others try to hide it as far as possible. This is, in fact, an interesting topic. Let try and sort things out.

Members of the Open Dock Guild claim they need a visible dock for two reasons: quick apps launching and receiving notifications from apps.

Launching apps

Well, you can quickly launch your apps via Alfred/Spotlight. If you do not know what Alfred is yet, go figure it out!

Alfred (OS X app)

Spotlight ancestor


Notifications

If you keep notifications on the screen you become reactive, not proactive. And that usually sucks, because then your apps decide what you should be doing, and not yourself.

* * *

I guess some folks simply like to look at the pretty icons. If you are using OS X for less than 6 months, then it's OK.

I feel that the more you work on Mac OS, the stronger you feel the need to hide the dock. It's annoying as it obscures your working space or flickers when the mouse is accidentally hovered over. But this probably is also related to you monitor size. If you have a huge external monitor than you don't care so much about the workspace size.

Anyway, you can't put it away forever, but you can set an open timeout. This means that it will not be accidentally popping up on every mouse hover.

Launch this in your Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Dock autohide-delay -float 10000 && killall Dock

Don't thank me.

However, Dock will be still visible in case you are using Expose or Mission Control.

Mission Control

You can disable Mission Control in the trackpad settings and remove the hotkey.

I suppose, not everybody would be willing to do that. After several weeks of working without it, I've decided to turn Mission Control back on.

However, I came up with a new purpose for the dock: instead of adding the most popular apps, I've started adding the less used programs. I've added some apps, which name I couldn't even remember to launch these through Alfred.

Desktop

There are applications to make your Desktop blank. But they are not necessary. Just launch this in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false && killall Finder

Browser

In Safari go to Preferences → General, and set "New tabs open" to "Empty Page"

For Chrome use "Empty new tab page" extension, which we mentioned in previous article "How to limit yourself for the good of the cause"

App switcher

The one opened with `Alt+Tab`. Yes, you can dump some of the redundant icons here, too.

LiteSwitch X (OS X app)

Allows you to hide apps from app switcher bar

This app is no longer progressing but still gets the job done. Just add some apps to the Exclude list.

And it seems that the app has become free.

How to launch applications that cannot be accessed via `Alt+Tab`? Obviously, hotkeys are the solution. We'll cover this topic in one of the next issues.

Is this really necessary?

If all the twists and turns seem needless to you – congratulations! Your inner zombie is not powerful enough and your concentration cannot be ruined with some spare icons on the screen.


Have you learned anything useful so far? If so, please send me a message with what was the most useful thing so far, or tweet mentioning @ProductivityMod.

This article is a part of Productivity Mode for OS X newsletter.
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