I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

For more, check out the archives.


Can’t concentrate because you’ve got a billion windows opened?

Check out Isolator. The clever Mac app dims background application windows to keep you focused on the current application. Couple it with Menu Eclipse to dim your menubar, and you’ve got a distraction-fighting dynamic duo.

I’ve covered similar apps, Doodim and Menushade, two years ago. Unfortunately, bugs in both apps have made them unusable in the long run. Doodim doesn’t support drag-and-drop between apps, and switching programs doesn’t always work. Menushade now breaks on my MacBook Pro running Leopard.

Isolator and Menu Eclipse resolve these issues splendidly. With Isolator, you also get a few new features.

You can:

  • Blur, “bloom”, pixelate, or crystallize background windows (in addition to dimming them)
  • Set the color of background tint to any color you want
  • Turn Isolator on and off with a keyboard shortcut

Windows users, I haven’t forgotten about you. Check out Jedi Concentrate or Dropcloth.


  • Lilly

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    8:49 am

    Desktopple Pro (http://foggynoggin.com) is my choice a productivity enhancement (and to hide my persistent Desktop messiness). It combines a lot of these into a single app, which also keeps my menu bar tidy.

  • Rafael Madeira

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    9:26 am

    I’ve been using Isolator for a while now, and it works perfectly. As a recent switcher, I was shocked at how the interface elements of the Adobe suite are simply scattered all over the Desktop.

    I just wish there was something effective for completely auto-hiding the menu bar, not just making it translucent or invisible and still occupying space. Just like the way you can auto-hide the dock. But all solutions I found are unstable or clumsy.

    Also, how hard is it to add a “maximized” window state to something like clicking the green button while holding the alt/option key? I get the reasoning behind “zooming”, and I think it’s valid — but just as valid as maximizing. So give us the option.

    It would certainly account for many instances where we are forced to resort to Isolator.

  • Benjamin

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    10:41 am

    I like Think for hiding my open apps and concentrate on one specific app. Its free and easy to use.

  • sam

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    7:12 pm

    I’ve loved doodim for so long, but isolator is even more kickass – love the blur action. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Chanpory Rith

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    9:41 pm

    @Lilly, Thanks for pointing us Desktopple. Unfortunately it doesn’t dim background windows.. just the menubar.

  • Michael@ Awareness * Connection

    gravatarAug 11, 2008
    10:53 pm

    Since I use Spaces these days I don’t need this as much as I once might have. But it is good to know about it. Glad to hear the comments saying that it has been useful as well.

  • Will

    gravatarAug 19, 2008
    10:59 am

    I’ll second the “Think” app. I love it. The folks at Freeverse got it right. It’s simple slick and gets the job done.

  • goat

    gravatarSep 25, 2008
    2:37 pm

    Another vote for “Think”. Best of its kind, that I’ve found at least. http://www.freeverse.com/think/

    Rafael – Your wish for a “maximize” button is echoed by many a mac user, and not just recent switchers. There is unfortunately no way to do this and I too am surprised no developer has written some code to alter the functionality of the green stoplight. Maybe one day…

  • emomsmoupsrap

    gravatarApr 1, 2010
    11:07 am

    1. Cygnus X – Superstring (8:16)
    2. Armin van Buuren presents Rising Star – Startheme (7:32)
    3. Members Of Mayday – 10 In 01 (8:56)
    4. Marco V – Simulated (7:50)
    5. Push – The Legacy (8:56)
    6. Perpetuous Dreamer – The Sound Of Goodbye (8:48)
    7. Rank 1 feat. Shanokee – Such Is Life (8:49)
    8. Three Drives On A Vinyl – Sunset On Ibiza (7:57)
    9. Solid Sessions – Janeiro (11:04)
    10. Signum – 5 Yards (7:14)
    11. Airwave – Save Me (9:41)
    12. Insigma – Open Our Eyes (7:30)
    13. Vincent De Moor – Flowtation (7:24) ??????? ??? ????????? ???? ?????? ???????? ?? ????? ??? ?????? ????????????? ????? ??????? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????? ???????? ?? ? ????? ????????? ???????? ?? ? ????? ????????? ????????? ? ??????? ???????????? ????????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ???????? ? ?????-?????????? ???? ????????????? ??? ?????????