HazeOver is a small piece of software that does one job really well. In the old days we used to call software like that a “hamster” after the way those tiny rodents single-mindedly twirl on their wheel all day.
What HazeOver does is enhance your focus on the job at hand by dimming the rest of your desktop ahd giving focus in the true sense of the word to the app you are using.
In this review we’ll look at purchasing, installing and using HazeOver on your Mac and see whether it really does do this one job really well.
To obtain HazeOver, go to the Mac App Store and type “hazeover” or follow this link. After purchasing the app for $3.99, it is installed in your Applications folder directly. Once the software is installed, you run it in the usual way. It will stay residently parked in the menu bar until you quit.
The preferences pane pops up on the first start, and you get to choose the level of dimming and if you want it in the menu bar and at the start at login. Also, there is a button to allow the app in the security permissions so it doesn’t ask you every time if it’s okay for the app to mess with your screen settings.
Once you are done messing with the settings, you can close the Preferences and get started. As you do so, a little alert will pop up to remind you that the app will stay running in the menu bar.
There are no controls to speak of apart from in the preferences (and the menu bar menu) to allow you to adjust the darkness of the dim. In practice, you need far less than you would assume, so go with the defaults at first and tune it down to taste.
It’s a deceptively simple thing, but it works. Basically what happens when the software is in play is that any window you are working on looks as normal. Anything in the background is dimmed out. Sounds simple when you say it like that, doesn’t it? In fact, the difference, perceptually speaking, is huge, and you really do pay less attention to what’s going on behind the apps you are working on.
Anything that pops up is less clear and so much easier to ignore unless you are the sort of person who is biochemically obsessed with knowing everything that’s going on. If you actually want to ignore everything else other than your chosen task, HazeOver really does help.
You might get slightly irritated by the way focus changes, but they’ve done a pretty good job of minimizing any annoying scene changes. In the test period, everything worked as it should, and there were no weird transitions between windows or views. Overall it was really solid.
Fade to Black
HazeOver is a paid app, but that shouldn’t upset you. It’s easy to get hypnotized by free stuff and the prevailing going rate of apps in the store and start thinking that paying more than a few cents for an app is outrageous overpricing, but let’s be real. Software, good software you actually use, is made by real people who need to eat. And the price in this case is reasonable.
With that out of the way, the price is right because this is a piece of software you will actually use. Frankly it’s something that should be an option in the OS anyway, and it’s possible in the future it might be. Until then this is a cheap and user-friendly option.
In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that although our copy of HazeOver was provided free by the manufacturer, this in no way affects our honest evaluation of the software, and the developers were happy for us to review this product on that basis in our own words.
Of course if you have any thoughts about work focus and methods to enhance your focus and productivity during work hours, let us know in the comments below.