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- The free website blocker designed for studying or focusing on work. Block distractions like social media, games, apps, Youtube or even the entire Internet.
- I accidentally set the self-control app that blocks websites and now I need to undo it. I meant to set it for 2 hours for Facebook but accidentally put 21! Continue browsing in r/mac. A community for all things relating to Apple's Macintosh line of computers.
V3.0.3 for Mac OS X 10.8+ Users of older OS versions can download SelfControl 1.5.1 for Mac OS X 10.5+. SelfControl is a free and open-source application for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist.
'Is there a word for someone who blocks themselves from accessing everything work-related, leaving them only with Twitter?' That's the question I asked shortly after blocking myself from everything Ars in an attempt to test out SelfControl, a simplistic (if not strict) distraction-blocking app for the Mac. Created by developer Steve Lambert for free under the GPL, SelfControl blocks a list of domains for a specified period of time in order to help you focus—presumably on work. The app works with websites, e-mail servers, and, as I discovered, even IRC servers and the like.
Unlike apps like WriteRoom—a word processor that visually blocks you from seeing anything in the background—and Freedom—an app that blocks all Internet access for 8 hours at a time—SelfControl lets you specify exactly what you want blocked through a blacklist while allowing everything else. So, while you'll be able to see your IRC buddies chatting away in the background (if you didn't block it), you can still access the things you need to get things done.
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The blacklist has no bells or whistles whatsoever—just start entering domains you want blocked. The only feature it has is the ability to import your e-mail servers, in case you're a compulsive e-mail checker.
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The only other element to SelfControl is a slider on the main screen that lets you decide how long you want your blacklist to be enforced. You can choose anything from a few minutes to a few hours, but beware with experimentation, because once you click that 'Start' button, you're committed to being blocked for that entire period of time, no matter what.
That's right—there's no way to stop the block. Quitting the app won't work, and not even rebooting will lift you from your self-imposed jail cell. Lambert must have serious issues with (actual) self control (we kid because we love, Steve), because this app is not screwing around. Incidentally, we investigated to see whether SelfControl modifies the machine's hosts file in order to impose the block, but it does not.
(In my playful experimentation gone wrong, I had to switch computers altogether in order to get this article done. Theoretically, you won't be as stupid as me if you use this application.)
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Assuming you are happy with the blacklist and you click Start, SelfControl places a semi-transparent countdown timer on the screen that you can move to wherever you want. Try accessing any of the websites you blocked and you'll be presented with an error saying the browser can't connect. Your mail, IRC, and whatever other clients will just act as if the servers are down. Enjoy the silence.
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Ultimately, SelfControl is not about exercising self control at all. It's an application that is meant to replace your self control with strict, compassionless rule enforcement. If you need that kind of thing in order to get your work done, then download away. If you like being able to moderate your own Internet usage, then this app is definitely not for you.
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Or, if you're not entirely sure, go ahead and play with it for a while—it's free! Just keep in mind that you brought this on yourself when you find yourself halfway into your solitary confinement and you need to get to a website you blocked.