away with you, menubar!

October 31, 2008

This is part of an ongoing series called Blinders where I explore some of the ways I streamline my computer workflows to minimize distractions.

My digital life took a turn for the better this week. Here’s a peek:

Nothing special? Look pretty boring? Exactly. I was able to put the final piece in place toward having a clean, distraction free screen.

A few years ago, on this episode of MacBreak, Merlin Mann introduced me to the idea of the distraction free screen. He demonstrated how he works with nothing but a black screen behind whatever app he happened to be working in. I was troubled, perhaps even horrified. How could he work without all those convenient gizmos and doo-dads just a few pixels away?

But then I started to experiment with it, and…I liked it. I put most of his suggestions in place. Unfortunately, my clean screen ways were hindered late last year by an obstacle called Leopard. I used Merlin’s suggestion, MenuShade, to hide my toolbar. But, this beloved utility no longer worked after I installed Leopard, and it was never updated. Despite a few thorough web expeditions, I was unable to find a replacement.

This week, I decided to venture out again, and I did not return empty handed. I’m now sporting a nifty utility called PresentYourApps. It’s not quite as convenient as MenuShade, which universally dimmed the menu. PresentYourApps instead requires you to set your menubar visibility for each application. It’s a little more work upfront, but nothing significant, and I can once again take a deep breath and enjoy my clean screen.

Now that my clean screen is once again complete, I’ll post a summary next week of some of the tricks and utilities I use to pull it off. You still think this is crazy? Think you need more visual stimuli? Maybe…or maybe you just haven’t tasted the goodness of it yourself yet. I dare you!

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